Changing Jobs - Hold ON!

I have been on this website for more than ten years and thought I would dish out a bit of advice.

A bit of background:

I worked up to director level in trading, before going to get an MBA and changing industry to work in private equity. The exact same story repeated itself, so I thought I would share it and give some pearls of wisdom.

I was on a trading floor at a BB - my entire team had been decimated by the Lehman crisis and the year that followed was awful. I hated my job, worked with a trader who was an absolute ass hole and the other traders were not particularly good people either. I was mentally and physically abused every day, that was to be expected on a trading floor at the time, but this was made particularly worse given the constant state of fear of losing your job everyone was in. Long story short: I wanted to get out and seek a better life despite the BB I was at being top in their product group.
I interviewed at a few different places at the time but had one year of experience, not particularly great. Everyone was happy to interview me, I had a solid education and started to have a small reputation on the market.

I was offered the same job, with the same salary at a BB with the MD telling me he would shake with me on a guaranteed bonus but could not put it down in writing. My mentor at the time fortunately told me not to do this, as this was a stupid move. You have to understand I hated where I was and just wanted to get out. I listened to him and stayed put. Another bank offered me the same conditions, I did not have enough experience for them to hire me at a more senior level or pay me more - they just wanted to chance it on me.

Tip #1 - Don't Rush

When you are a junior, stick it out a few more years, don't rush out to move in your first or second year. PUT UP WITH THE SHIT. Remember that when you feel like the world is about to end you still have a job and you are not an ISIS sex slave.

After I was promoted to associate I was made an offer by another BB, this time with a guaranteed bonus and a decent salary. I went to my mentor, who again told me not to take it, as they were having me at a discount as he said.

Tip #2 - Two Jokers

He told me you have two jokers in your life, once you change job you burn one of your jokers so you better make your move count.

I listened to him and refused the offer. Just a week later a bank came to me and offered me a VP role and made me a stupid offer paying me pots of money. (The BB was guaranteeing me but taking me at the associate role I had just been promoted to), here I climbed a ladder in hierarchy and got paid. I took that offer and never regretted it.

What completely threw me off and the point of me writing this story is that I just had a similar experience happening to me.

I am in private equity at the moment as a post-MBA associate, been in the role for almost two years now. Love the job, don't like the instability of the management team. Had a few head hunters calling me so I took that opportunity to interview. Received three offers, just said no to all three...

Two wanted to promote me to a level higher than my current one, but one wanted to pay me below my current base... The other one was a startup fund and did not want to sign any carry but promised that after six months they would give me some carry. The last one wanted to offer me the same level of seniority with an oral promise to promote me after six months.

Fortunately in this case I do not need a mentor to figure out what to do with my life, but I still ran this idea with people more senior than me and asked them their opinions.

Tip #3 - Get a mentor

Get a mentor and run things through him, if you don't have a mentor never make a decision on your own - get some feedback from others, keeping in mind you don't have to listen to everything they say

Tip #4 - Headhunters = BS

Head hunters will bull shit everything, NEVER listen to a word they say. They do not have your interest at heart, ignore the fuck out of them. I was thinking to myself just now: if I had been just a bit younger, those ass holes were so persuasive about me leaving I could have potentially listened to them

Tip #5 - Don't rush to make a decision

If you hate your place, do not think of how great it will be to leave your job. That thought is fantastic, but this should not drive your decision. You might rush things to get to this nirvana of saying fuck you to the people you don't like. Don't follow that idea (incidentally one of the head hunter kept on telling me "remember why you want to leave", they play on this emotion as it is extremely powerful)

Final thought

(sorry if the above was hard to follow): I still don't like the management where I am - I am not paid what I should be paid - I don't have the title that I want. But it's a long game. I have time. The longer I stay where I am, the more I learn and the higher my value goes up in the market. I compare it to trading, you can trade in and out of a stock and make a bit of cash, but if you stick with it you get to collect the dividend and sell for a much bigger payout, in this case a better title, bonus, etc... I might be wrong in what I did, one of the offer could have been for a much better future job, but I don't want to risk it. A new environment has too many variables you do not control - where you currently are you know everything and have some built in goodwill, this should never be underestimated.

I am sure I can dish out some more wisdom following this post - but at this point I can't be asked. I hope that this LONG ass post might hopefully give some sort of feedback to some of you out there. Don't rush into things and consider everything. They are doing a lot of DD on you, do the same on them.

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Comments (27)

Most Helpful
Apr 4, 2019 - 5:47pm

Wisdom. As someone who just went through a dramatic long job search with two runner-up denials, two important points:

  1. Do NOT, under nearly all circumstances, quit a job or let them know you are considering leaving without a written offer elsewhere.

  2. NEVER ever ever give up - continuously network and try to find other job opportunities. If you are young, don't be afraid to move to another city for a promotion or lateral to buy-side. Things change drastically after you get married and then once you have kids.

Apr 6, 2019 - 3:06am

You are spot on with your number one. Until it's signed it's not in the bag. One thing I should have mentioned as well was be careful not to drop what you are doing at work. Both times in my life I was so convinced I was going to quit that I was being intolerable to my superiors and half assing my job.
This time I made sure that I wasn't putting everything off completely, but still. Now I have to spend more time at work making up for all the tasks I thought I would leave behind.

Also one thing I forgot to mention: unless it's written down NEVER trust an oral promise. "we will promote you" "we will give you carry" etc... Fuck you. Unless you write it down for me it's worth nothing. You did not go to school with those people, you did not work with those people, you only met them once or twice - how can you trust them? That was a key thing my first mentor told me.

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Apr 5, 2019 - 5:24pm

As someone who just accepted a job offer, this is very relevant. I was coming up on a promotion, but that promotion meant that I would more or less be in it for a career. I felt like I was missing something and decided that I needed to get other experience before settling in a career.

Given that I was up against the clock and had to either A) accept the promotion B) find a new job, or C) wind up unemployed, I began looking pretty hard for new roles and found one that fit everything I was looking for.

Everything works out for a reason.

Apr 8, 2019 - 2:55pm

Did you ever feel that you would turn down the promotion if you received it before receiving a job offer elsewhere? And InVinoVeritas would this apply to your number 1, or is it an exception? I'm in a similar spot of being promoted in short order but want to recruit and leave and do something else. Don't know how honest I should be at time of promotion.

Apr 8, 2019 - 3:17pm

Our promotion process is pretty telegraphed and inflexible, so I knew deadlines up front and was able to plan accordingly. To answer your question though - no I wouldn't have turned down the promotion because at the end of the day I wanted to stay employed. I would've continued to look for jobs though.

I know some of my colleagues/friends elected to not go through with the A2A/promotion process and opted-out without a back-up plan. For some it worked out, but others were forced to accept a job offer they weren't excited about given they had to pay the bills and were facing unemployment. They all wished they had at least opted-in to be considered and to have options.

My office is very open to helping Analysts decide on their next steps and I was having discussions with my managers about going through the promotion process to have a back-up plan in case no outside offers came my way. I wouldn't recommend this to most people given it's risky and it's a tough balance to strike, but I knew my team well enough to be comfortable making the ask. In the end it worked out, but it took me months to find the right job.

Apr 6, 2019 - 11:46am

Hey Disjoint thanks for sharing your story - terrific read. If you don't mind sharing, I have two questions:

1. Can you elaborate on how you made the switch from S&T to PE?
This one hits home for me because I also started out in S&T around the credit crisis, realized I didn't like it (wanted to be in PE), and had to work through some steps before finding myself in VC (which I love). You mentioned you got into it after mba. This challenges the normal convention of it being difficult to get into post-mba PE, even for some that did pre-mba PE, let alone those wanting to go in via IB, consulting, and to the near impossible feat of getting into it right after S&T. Huge props and making it happen; would be great to hear how you managed this.

2. How did you meet and build a relationship with your mentor?
The importance of a mentor who has navigated a path before you is often understated and under appreciated. After reading this, it's a reminder for myself that I need to do a better job cultivating and maintaining a relationship with people who could be or I can consider mentors. How did you come across yours so early in your career, and build that relationship?

Apr 6, 2019 - 5:41pm

I am a decent hustler - I hustled myself like there was no tomorrow. I went to a tip top MBA, without giving too much away it was Harvard/Wharton/Stanford. The brand helped.

I took an internship in between the two years. Took a lot of emailing to alumni and asking to meet them. From one meeting to the next some guy needed an intern and was willing to pay next to nothing. I took it. I had no full time job after graduation despite some major hustling, but was offered another internship in a fund that would give me a full time job if I was successful (previous place I interned at gave me a glowing recommendation). I managed to not suck too much and they gave me the role.

I agree though, most students want to do PE or VC when they get into an MBA - then they panic and switch to consulting or IB. Had I wanted to do IB I wouldn't have left it in the first place! So I just kept on pushing. Eventually someone was bound to take pitty on me. It was a very specific sector I recruited in, and could also demonstrate a genuine interest in it.

First mentor - Given I spoke a certain language, they put me with a guy from my country to back him up on his trade and learn from him. I didn't cover the same market as him so except for looking after his stuff while he was away there never was any competition between the two of us. That helped. He was decent, so I just went to him all the time with questions and he would answer.
Second mentor - my MBA matched me with a guy who is heading a large fund. He volunteered to participate in the mentorship program so by default I got to benefit from him!
Otherwise I have informal mentors I ask advice from. My mother in law, by step-brother, my dad, etc... All give different advices and have your interest at heart.

Apr 6, 2019 - 3:45pm

Here is the best advice I got when choosing a buy side job. I was pursuing public market buy-side but I think this pertains to private market as well:

  • Choose an established/stable place that will not go under the next day: does not have to be famous, just stable enough that they will not close out because of a few trades. This is specially important for early careers.

  • Make sure you agree with their investment philosophy: He thinks if two people does not like each other that much, as long as they share the same investment philosophy, they can still work together. Of course, it will be great if they also like each other. This can be in terms of investment horizon (short term quarters vs. 3-5 years), growth vs. value, fundamental vs. quantitative, P/E vs. EV/EBITDA vs DCF, etc.

  • Make sure you work with people you can TRUST: this is the arguably the most important and hardest to tell factor. But when a recruiter is reaching out to you for a job at one of the pods (Point72, Citadel, Millennium etc), I think naturally you should be cautious of the high turnover nature of those places. I know there are great/responsible managers in those firms but chances of discovering them is low and takes special DD. Word of mouth, friend of friends, ex-employees might help on that front.

Also trust your instinct, do you feel connected? Do you sense something fishy? If you feel good, it might be good/bad, but if you feel out of sorts, something is probably wrong.

Apr 7, 2019 - 11:07am

This 100%, especially on sticking it out and not taking the first thing that looks decent. When I graduated college, I started in B4 audit. I absolutely hated it and was desperate to get out. I wanted to do IB and was willing to take any role that could help me lateral there since I was struggling to lateral. I ended up taking a few practice interviews and I received a job offer to work back office at UBS. They promised me orally that if I performed well, they would allow me to interview in IB after a year. They offered me significantly more money than what I was making at the time. I had a good relationship with the recruiter who I thought had my best interest at heart. They pressured me really hard to take that job. I didn't and I was told by the recruiter that I was being really stupid. No one ever makes it from public accounting to banking and I threw away a great opportunity. They also told me that some people in banking actually go to public accounting because they can make decent money with no stress. I wondered if I made a mistake.

A few months later, I accepted an analyst role at an IB, and was there for two years before jumping to PE. I am now entering my third year in PE and planning on making it a career. So glad I didn't jump at the first thing that appealed to me and just stuck it out.

Apr 7, 2019 - 3:28pm

As a fellow ex-Big 4 auditor who now works on the buy side, I was holding my breath reading this story, hoping it would end well. You did the right thing. Recruiters pounce on naive young Big 4 auditors like vultures. Many of them are completely full of shit, and young people need to understand that the recruiter will always put the recruiter's interests first and foremost.

"Now you's can't leave." -Sonny LoSpecchio
Apr 7, 2019 - 3:31pm

After leaving Big 4 for a shitty offer I shouldn't have taken, I spent the second half of my 20's bouncing around in closer-to-finance roles, networking my ass off, and passing CFA exams until finally landing the dream job on the buy side. It was absolutely worth it, but what a journey. I wish I'd been better informed when I was younger. This site/community was invaluable to me.

"Now you's can't leave." -Sonny LoSpecchio
  • 1
Apr 8, 2019 - 3:27pm

Thanks for the advice.

Question though:
Would you agree that sometimes "sticking it out" isn't the best bet? For example what if you're in an industry / role that you really just don't like and don't want to be in. You had the benefit of being on the trading floor, where whether your life sucked or not, the experience was valued by many of the jobs / industries you wanted to pursue. Would you recommend this to someone that isn't in a similarly "highly-valued" role?

Apr 8, 2019 - 4:11pm

I think that's a very fair point - but then it's not so much sticking it out that matters, but finding the right opportunity and not just rushing out at the first thing that seems mildly attractive. As someone mentioned above in their story, they were at a big 4 and some headhunters offered them a middle office job. He did not want a middle office job but an analyst job in front office. He stuck it out until he got what he wanted.

Apr 8, 2019 - 4:56pm

Ok well how about I make it a bit more "grey", since if you're in finance and want to pursue acting then the choice is pretty clear, leave.

What if you're early career in a Corp Dev / Strat role. You know you want to end up in PE but aren't sure if you want to go the 2 year IBD -> PE -> BSCH -> PE grind. Do you stay in Corp Dev / Strat until you break into PE (rare, I know). Or do you bite the bullet, go do something that would make you less happy (MM IB) and then try to break into PE (I suppose this would still be the equivalent of playing the "long game", but taking short term discomfort to achieve a longer term goal).

See I think at that level it gets much more difficult to assess the situation and "know your worth" which is what I think you tried to get across at the beginning.

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