Experienced PE/VC, ways to get noticed for new search?

Hey monkeys.

I spent the last 5 years working at a pretty private single family where we did both PE and VC, and I left as a Vice President. I got good experience but it isn't a well known or particularly respected firm. I came up through the military, not banking, and as such don't have quite the industry connections and ties to the headhunting community. Top 3 MBA. I'm Trying to figure out how to get seen by the recruiters, short of contacting them and sending resumes (which I have done). Are there resume books I should be getting into or groups I should be following or attending? I heard someone recommend the PEAC (Chicago). Anything out there like this? I'm lookign for small, scrappy, more esoteric places. My areas of interest are Boston, Philly, DC, NY, Charlotte, Atlanta. Are most MM / lower MM jobs being posted on places like Glocap, or do they fly under the radar somewhere? What about the VC stuff?

Comments (3)

Best Response
Oct 11, 2017 - 1:27pm

If you've been in the family office world, you probably know that nothing is done publicly, everything is done with discretion.

The best way to be able to move around is by having a strong network in the family office world. This means attending all the events that have cropped up in recent years, speaking on panels, going to conferences like PEAC, SALT (more geared toward public markets, but strong family office attendance), SuperReturn, and the like.

You ought to be a shoe-in for panel positions. The family office is the new private jet; everyone wants one, most have no ideal what it actually entails. Since you can be the guy speaking from a position of authority and experience (plus you have the added credibility of an HSW MBA and the military), no one ought to be turning you down.

You don't want to be in a resume book. I don't know of any that exist nor if I did would I recommend that you try to be included.

I may be wrong, but I get the sense you might not be in a major city, in which case I get your conundrum. Look for b-school 'family office councils': NYU has one of the best, oddly enough. Those events will have lots of people you can meet and speak with. In this world, being on the inside matters most. You're not looking for a job (by this I mean you should not come off as looking for a job), you're there to 'find new opportunities' because private wealth is looking to meet other private wealth.

Family office jobs at the level of seniority you're looking for open up very slowly and informally. You meet someone, you talk every couple weeks about the deals you're both looking at, maybe you go down the road a bit with each other, you may even invest in something together. Those 'reps' help someone get to know how you think, and more importantly, how you carry yourself. That's what guides a hiring decision, and it's usually less like "Please interview for this role" and more like "What would you think about working more closely together". You have to be smart enough to pick up on the subtext to that; it sounds like it might just be an invitation to share more dealflow, but it reads like a casual interview offer.

It's like dating, there has to be plausible deniability, no one wants to cause waves by looking like they're actively poaching away the investment professionals who have such intimate knowledge of another private person or family's business operations.

The only formal processes I've seen run are at the CIO level.

Outside of the family office world (e.g. if you want to be in classic buy-side roles at a fund with institutional LPs), yes, it's a recruiting game. You ought to be leveraging your b-school network.

Figure out what classmates are now at shops you'd be interested in working at, and also do the same through the alumni database. Given the caliber of school you went to, this will be a slightly tedious process (over a dozen hours), but you want to be thorough and informed.

Use LinkedIn's advanced search features as well. Don't just run one search, run multiple. For instance, do one search that pairs school and industry ["Private Equity and Venture Capital"], then do another that has school but no industry but a keyword like "buyouts". Then run that with a whole bunch of different keywords to capture anyone who uses different terms on their profile. Then run one for your school paired with each of the top 50 PE shops, then again for the 10 largest VC funds (i.e. the ones that do MBA hiring, like Accel, Sequoia, Bessemer, Bain, A16Z ...).

Keep track of all the names you find in a Google sheet or Excel. Then reach out to people, and keep in mind that this is going to be a 6-12 month process at minimum. That means don't burn the relationship immediately by asking for a job. You need to run a sequence of at least three touchpoints before making any explicit ask.

Reach out by explaining your commonality (school, military, whatever) and industry background to date and asking for a short call or coffee to learn more about what their role is like. At the end of that meeting (whether it was a call or in-person), ask if it's okay to follow up with any questions you have after your meeting. They'll always say yes. Wait two weeks, then follow up thanking them for their time and ideally also offering something of value yourself (a deal lead, a helpful industry primer or report that would normally be expensive, or a book you like).

This is why this takes so long, because it's like dating where you can't spook someone by coming on too strong too quickly.

After a couple of these (e.g. three months), read the situation to see if your vibe is warm enough to comfortably ask if they know of any open roles at their shop.

This is now a waiting game, but since you've hopefully been able to do this with a couple dozen different people at different funds, you've cast your net as wide as possible while still being targeted. This ought to generate several interviews. You'll also get several "We aren't, but so-and-so who was one year ahead of me at school is at X Capital and mentioned they might add someone soon".

In short, the best opportunities come from personal relationships, not a listed process. To maximize your opportunity set, invest deeply in watering your own garden, so to speak.

This is a powerful lesson separate from any temporary need to switch jobs. If you do this proactively, you start to really keep a pulse on what's happening with whom and where. This helps you see more cool stuff for yourself and also be in a position of influence to distribute favors to people you like.

Good luck.

I am permanently behind on PMs, it's not personal.

  • 14
Oct 11, 2017 - 6:19pm

Thanks! This is above and beyond the quality and helpfulness of a response than I expected. Sound and useful advice to many people, beyond me I would imagine. A few details to clarify on what you had to guess at:
-I'm currently NY-based but no longer want to be NY based
-We operate more like fund than like a family office - we just don't raise funds (founder's wealth). Not sure how many skirts my former firm is going to blow up in the family office world.
-I've actually been riding the pine a few months, so not sure how long I can cultivate new relationships (got a buyout so decided to take a break).
-I have a pretty sizeable network, so will certainly get cracking.
-Also found ACG has a site which looks like it has some useful postings.
-Anything good on the WSO board?

One lightning round question - Where would you think your most bang for the buck would be if you decided you wanted to go to an operating company (13 years experience, 5 of which is PE/VC, the balance of which is operations, leadership, and management, MBA but no accounting background)? I've found I'm not getting much attention for roles reporting to CFO's, but I guess I have to, like the above advice, get more active in networking.

Oct 11, 2017 - 8:38pm

I am permanently behind on PMs, it's not personal.

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