Do you exaggerate connections to a city to headhunters / PE firms?

As I begin the headhunter conversation process, I had a question regarding location. I'm primarily interested in MM PE funds, many of which are not located in major cities-- that's totally fine for me as I'm more of a small town person. Is it ok to express that I'm genuinely open to most cities, regardless of location? I'm more about the job opportunity rather than location.

Additionally, I'm imagining PE funds in non-major cities care a lot about interest in their location. Would it be compelling if I stated the above rationale when responding to questions on that topic? I'm not keen on lying and saying I have friends or family in XYZ city, though I guess it is a white lie... Would love to hear how others have approached this topic and if it's a major issue.

Comments (9)

Jan 6, 2021 - 11:00pm

I'm just a shitty college student but from what I've been told, if you say that you're open to all cities and you're just about the job or w.e you tell yourself, they'll smile, shake your hand, and write you off for not knowing where exactly you would like to be. They won't take a chance on you at that point in giving you interviews with their clients. Best to pick a location and exaggerate why tf you want to be there.


Also, side note. If you don't like lying or at least twisting the truth just enough to win the client's trust in you or fool your interviewer into giving you the job, you're going to hate your life in finance in the long run.


Again, I'm just a shitty college senior. Wtf do I know about life or finance? Take my shittyness as a grain of salt.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jan 7, 2021 - 12:21am

Why do so many college students on this forum think lying is a trivial thing? I love my job in finance right now (not dying to get into the buyside fwiw) and never have had to lie. I'm considered a top performer. Not really sure what's so hard about that.

Most Helpful
Jan 7, 2021 - 12:20am

I think you want to strike a balance. I do think you should indicate that based on your personal preference, you're mainly looking at markets outside of NY/SF/LA etc.

I would then say you're open to a number of smaller cities such as Austin/Denver/Chicago etc, but are ultimately flexible. I'd then say that you're mainly looking at MM funds because you want to find opportunities where you get to see the E2E of a process, want to be part of a growing fund, blah blah. I don't think you need to make up some elaborate story as to why xyz city, but I would try and figure out a least a few top choices and then indicate some specific interest as to why those cities. At MM funds, especially ones that aren't two and out, they might tell the recruiter that they have a preference for someone with ties to the region. Even if you say something like "I've visited Denver a number of times, have a few close friends in the area, and have really seen/heard about the development in the region over the past decade. I really like the area, enjoy skiing, and could see myself staying for the long-term if I found the right role".

So basically say that you're flexible, but give them something to take notes on. Also, it's unlikely that you're entirely open to everywhere. If you found a great fund, but it turned out to be a 5 person family office in South Dakota, would you really take that? You need to take some of diligence into your own hands and at least have an idea of what you want to try next and where you want to be. That will also held recruiters target funds for you.

Jan 12, 2021 - 6:04pm

In summary - yes exaggerate actual ties and your interest/rationale for that city, but make sure it defends the question "will this person not quit on my in the 2 years due to feeling sad for not having friends and family here" and "if I want the candidate to potentially stay longer term, is it likely this person if they do well, will stay in this city?" - it's not just about whether you will pack your bags and fly there and start working oh and from the recruiters POV "does this candidate like this city enough such that if they got a comparable offer fund wise but from another city (good candidates might get multiple offers right) will they want to take this one (I want to get paid)?"


I would say you're open, but you def should have a targeted few cities otherwise you're wishy washy and there's plenty of people just as good if not better than you who have more legit ties. Funds & recruiters in the non-cool places would rather a mid bucket person who's family is from there over a top bucket person who floats around, for talent retention purposes since recruiting is tougher. 

So, if you're interviewing in a small town place, like yeah sure I'm sure you would move there...but would you stay if given the chance? Would you stay there for the rest of your career? Prob not right, you would just be open to more cities after a few years maybe, but if you had social and or familial ties, then that chance is lower. If its a 2 and out program then that is easier, but they're still fearful of you quitting in the 2 years (it's like how IBs fear the person who breaks down crying in the bathroom or got that job bc their dad is a PE partner and the son/daughter doesnt know what EBITDA is and now has decided they want to travel the world since "IB wasnt right for me" and quits like fuck now we have to get a lateral).

So you can convince someone you'll go there to work, but it can be tougher to convince them you'll be able to stay. I wanted to leave NYC for a bit if not long term for PE recruiting and said I was open to places but listed a few key geographies, then before every 1st round in a non-major city would usually be asked my rationale and "being open" to stuff isnt enough, the way saying "IB sounds cool, mergers sound interesting haha" isnt enough to get an IB job, I do generally know a few people in each city that I recruited in so would exaggerate more so the depth of my friendship to them rather than make people up, but would always always bolster this with the insiders POV of that city that that person told me and why that interests me and why I want to leave my current city and why I am not a flight risk (my case was, I dont really have family anywhere so I dont have any real ties that I would be leaving or want to return to).

I prob lost an offer or two earlier on when I couldnt convince them that I would do well in that city culturally since I didnt really have a strong enough POV yet (it's 2 and out who tf cares) - I'm also not white, and in a few processes with recruiters or the fund itself, was flat out told that there arent a lot of people my race in that city lmao (didnt take it any one way or another, that's a valid concern, but ended up figuring out how to answer that after the initial wtf moment in my first process).

I'm personally a little more loosey-goosey with things, kinda used to pitching throughout my life and kind of exaggerating to hopefully get a shot at something so idrc, but I also did have a few friends in the surrounding cities driving distance and 2 friends (more so 1 good, 1 acquaintance) in the city.

Hope this helps. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jan 13, 2021 - 12:56pm

Really helpful. Think we're in a pretty similar situation. People never talk about it here but I've always felt that interviewers took these factors very seriously (it's almost more perception / ego than anything objective). To be fair, I do it too (we probably all do).I do anticipate that a number of otherwise attractive funds will probably not give me a real shot for the same reasons you outlined, but hey I guess that's life.

Jan 13, 2021 - 3:24pm

Yeah I mean it ended up working out / was able to pass that geographic test with recruiters and the firm. The recruiter just needs some basic backup (oh I have a friend/family member there) but you have to obv be more concrete if you make it to a superday

I agree people take it very seriously, it's very tough to navigate so you have to choose your battles. Not quite tracking what you mean by funds wont give you a real shot - I found recruiting out of NYC to be a lot easier than recruiting in NYC, just make up a story if you have to lol. "I love Dallas! I've been to every 'Dallas BBQ' in NYC and so I would be a great fit for TPG Dallas!" 

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