Leaving IB Before Recruiting for PE

Been at an elite boutique in M&A in a major city (not NYC) for about 2 years now. At first, I was interested in continuing on as an associate (my firm allows A to A), but I'm leaning towards PE now. Given hours, I find myself exhausted, with little time to prep for PE recruitment. I know people on this forum are risk-averse and would say to continue in IBD while PE recruiting, but I definitely think I would find a PE job faster if I could dedicate myself full time to that. My firm hasn't historically been open to PE recruiting, but they are starting to change. Can't really get out of doing real, 80 hour a week work right now since we are extremely leanly staffed (aka 3rd years without any first year support on most projects).

Was wondering if anyone had quit after completing 2+ years as an IBD analyst (wanted a break / couldn't find time to recruit / travel) before trying to recruit for PE, and if so, how open recruiters were to talking with you? Are recruiters risk averse (i.e. they think there's something wrong with you if you didn't recruit while in IBD), or are they open to candidates that have taken a 1-3 month job break (I mean, they do get paid if they place someone)? Obviously, I'd mention just taking time to travel / family issues (this is actually true as well), instead of "hey I wanted a PE job but didn't have time to recruit".

Tangentially related, how open are PE firms to recruiting individuals who have taken some time off after doing their IBD stint? Obviously depends on the firm, but a general sense would be appreciated!

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Comments (7)

Best Response
Jan 11, 2018 - 1:37pm

I think recruiting after quitting will raise red flags that you can do little about at that point. The problem is that even if you're much busier than the average analyst doing PE recruiting, that explanation's not going to buy you a lot of sympathy. As far as they're concerned, everyone's busy, and you just have to be able to manage it.

How much latitude do you have in pushing back on new/bad projects? Presumably you have a bit more say now that you've been there a couple years and the first years should be ramped up by now. That's one lever you could pull

Another thing to try before quitting is scheduling a vacation (week+) and using that time to get through as much recruiting prep as you can. You can get a lot done when you don't have to deal with work at the same time.

Since you're generally getting a break between banking and PE anyways, I don't think that using that as a reason to quit first is the best strategy

  • 4
Jan 11, 2018 - 3:50pm

I'm sure someone could come in with anecdotal evidence of when this has worked out, but for obvious reasons I wouldn't use those instances to validate a decision to leave IB early. Unless you had a very compelling reason for leaving IB, it's going to be incredibly hard for you to get into PE at this typical entry point. Not having enough time to prep is unfortunately just not a good reason.

Also, this depends on the type of firm and location that you're recruiting for. But a lot of the opportunities you'll see now are going to be off cycle and random in timing, so you may not necessarily get a PE job earlier, or at least one that you really want. You could find yourself waiting around for a while for the right opportunity (which the lack of a job would only exacerbate the risk that recruiters and PE firms don't view breaks favorably) or taking a job that you're not fully happy with.

Jan 11, 2018 - 4:13pm

Probably not as applicable in the US, but here in Europe, plenty of people that started full-time after their undergrad do a masters (consecutive, not MBA) after their 2-3 years in IB. A lot cheaper than MBA and more than enough time to recruit for Buyside (or generally figure out what to do with their life)

Jan 12, 2018 - 11:02am

I'd probably take @orangemarker's advise - push back on some work, if you know there are first years who have capacity (and at times eager to learn and want to get experience) get your staffer to double staff some of your teams or as suggested take a week+ long vacation (classic 2nd year move!).

I do think most bigger PE firms wouldn't appreciate you leaving because you wanted to focus on recruiting but again depends on what you are looking for - I know people who left banking before having anything lined up but ended up going to corp dev or consulting roles.

Jan 12, 2018 - 1:48pm

Definitely not advisable. Would raise red flags for sure. Everyone else is working the same grueling hours as you AND prepping and nailing for interviews. Why would you not be able to handle it? If you can't handle that, what makes you think you'd be able to handle PE as a career? At least that's what the PE firms you're interviewing will think.

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Jan 13, 2018 - 2:41pm

"I definitely think I would find a PE job faster if I could dedicate myself full time to that"

Why do you think this?

PE recruiting takes up a lot of time, but prepping for PE recruiting does not - once you've figured out the general modeling tests and how to talk about a few deals intelligently, you can basically recycle that for every interview.

Jan 15, 2018 - 4:09pm

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