How to Jump to the Buyside After Your First Year

CaptK's picture
Rank: Neanderthal | 2,419

So now that your first year bonus has hit your bank account, you're realizing that the real reason you got into banking was to get OUT of banking, and you've got your sights set on hopping to private equity as soon as possible. And why not? Why waste another year of your life being miserable if you can jump to the next rung up the ladder early?

I posted this as a comment in another thread, but thought it would be useful reading for every current monkey looking to get out of banking early and jump to the buyside. Hopefully my experience is helpful to some others:

Proactivity and networking are key. I decided pretty early that I wanted to get over to the buyside as fast as I could. So I made a list of PE shops that focused on technology (my area of interest) and figured out which I thought would be a fit for me. As an analyst, you should be well practiced at making lists of financial sponsors, so use it to your advantage. My initial list was probably 50+ firms, which I then whittled to 20 "top targets" and another 20 "second choices". Once you have this list, figure out how you can get an "in". Don't cold call or cold email except as your last resort. You need a warm intro. Hop on LinkedIn, ask your parents, ask family friends, any favorite professors from college, etc. Find someone that knows someone, its 100x better than a cold call, especially when you're asking for special treatment like getting hired a year early.

Simultaneously, make a list of headhunters. Some firms focus on PE generally, some have specific strengths in certain types of PE (VC, mid market, name brand, certain industries, etc). Figure out who they are - ask older analysts who they've worked with. There are also lists on this board if you search. Most analysts just wait for headhunters to call. You should proactively reach out - they will talk to you. Again, it helps if you can drop a mutual acquaintance - "You placed John Smith at Battery Ventures last year, and he suggested I contact you." Remember, they get paid if they place you, so they'll be glad to receive your resume and make some introductions if you're a good candidate.

If you want to get out in front of everyone else, you've got to make it a priority. It takes work and you've got to get over your fear of rejection. But the payoff is worth it.

  • Capt K
    "Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. If you want to make ambitious people waste their time on errands, bait the hook with prestige." - Paul Graham

Comments (9)

Jul 25, 2010

were you at a BB or MM firm? Do you think its worth the time and effort to make a list/get in touch with headhunters if you are at a MM firm? Or is it better to try to directly reach out since you are not at MS M&A or GS TMT so headhunters won't be that interested in you

Jul 25, 2010
TheBenevolent:

were you at a BB or MM firm? Do you think its worth the time and effort to make a list/get in touch with headhunters if you are at a MM firm? Or is it better to try to directly reach out since you are not at MS M&A or GS TMT so headhunters won't be that interested in you

According to who? Head hunters don't just focus on MS M&A or GS TMT... Wall Street is a lot bigger than you think lil buddy...

I know a guy that went from CS S&T to Magnetar. MS and GS sure does look great but it will not dictate where you will end up.

Jul 25, 2010
TheBenevolent:

were you at a BB or MM firm? Do you think its worth the time and effort to make a list/get in touch with headhunters if you are at a MM firm? Or is it better to try to directly reach out since you are not at MS M&A or GS TMT so headhunters won't be that interested in you

I was at a MM firm, and yes, it is definitely worth the time and effort. In fact, I'd say the time and effort are even more critical since you're not going to have the same volume of headhunters banging down your door as you would at a large BB bank. Directly reaching out without a connection is nearly always futile - most of the time they're running their process through a headhunter anyway.

And you're completely incorrect that headhunters won't be interested in you. The perception on this board has gotten warped far beyond the real world in terms of importance of prestige. Some of the best analysts I knew, and some of the best associates and partners I've worked with have not been from top 5 schools or top tier BB banks. Sure it helps, but if you have good deal experience, know your shit, and are a good interviewer, you'll have plenty of success (I interviewed with firms like Carlyle, TCV, BAML Capital, HIG, and more through headhunter connections).

Jul 25, 2010

Thank you for the great advice CaptK, it is very much appreciated.

But how the hell do you go about getting access to the names of 20-40 PE firms and/or headhunters? Also, how do you go about finding/making the time to put forth the work necessary for such an early exitt?!

Jul 26, 2010

Thanks, that is good to know, I am gonna get on it in a few months!

Jul 26, 2010

This may be comming from a place of ignorance, but isn't it generally better to stick out your second year if you can? Every PE associate I know (which is few) all completed their two years & two of them took their extra 3rd yr offer. Your bosses (VP's & MD's) can be excellent resources for PE recruiting.

Also, I've only been working for a little while now, but am already getting close with some of the other analysts. I could see where this network could be helpful down the road & it wouldn't be adventageous to bail half way through. Just my thoughts for what it's worth.

Jul 26, 2010

Sure, I definitely agree that you don't want to burn bridges. But you'll see once you've been working a little while longer that the learning curve begins to flatten out (in my opinion). By a few months into your second year, you've learned probably 85-90% of everything you're going to learn as an analyst, so I just felt it was more efficient to keep on climbing.

Of course you want to try to leave on a good note, and definitely, definitely stay in touch with your analyst class - you're absolutely right that they become an excellent network over time.

Jul 27, 2010

What about making the jump from M/B/B consulting? Would that be next to impossible?

Aug 1, 2010
Comment