Post #2: Update as of Feb 21, 2014
It has definitely been a stressful month. Recruitment has fully kicked off for me and I was surprised at the amount of traction I've gotten so far. With each interview, my responses have gotten better and I learned to BS better on some of the questions. I think the most frustrating part of the whole process is still the waiting period for headhunters to get back to you on job opps. It's especially frustrating during periods where I've exhausted LinkedIn and all other possible job posting boards and can't do anything but wait for responses. Another reason I was frustrated was probably because I haven't worked out in months because I've been busy with work and recruiting. I felt disgusting mentally and physically.
Update on the recruiters:
A lot of job opportunity emails from recruiters for hedge funds and corporate development roles – not really what I was looking for but I'm keeping my options open. I think I've reached out to a decent number of recruiters so I've been slacking off a bit in terms of soliciting recruiters. At this point, I should be following-up with recruiters just to refresh their memories of my resume.
Permsol – I had sent a follow-up email to my contact at the firm after my last post; additionally, a colleague of mine was contacted by the firm for a job opp and he referred me for the job. So I finally was able to get in touch with someone here. The recruiter had one job opp I was interested in and I submitted my resume not realizing the job is located outside my preferred geographical location. I was selected for an interview and took it because I just wanted some interview practice.
Amity – Received a contact through a generous poster at WSO (thanks a bunch!) and was able to schedule an introductory meeting with the recruiter. She had the same feedback as everyone else – not much in the market right now but recruiting season will kick off March / April
CPI – Most responsive recruiter out of all. They sent across a couple of job opps that I was really interested in.
Still think LinkedIn is the most useful tool to use for the job searching process. For those of you who doesn't know this, LinkedIn offers a month of premium LinkedIn for free. I took advantage of this and updated my LinkedIn and added all my headhunter contacts to my network. In case you're not familiar with job search on LinkedIn, here's what I did to find jobs on LinkedIn:
- On the homepage, click "Jobs" on the menu bar on the top of the page
- In the search bar, type in job description (e.g. private equity associate)
- On the left side there are filters you can apply to the job search (e.g. locations, company etc.)
- If you click on a posting that may be of interest, it brings you to the job opportunity page where you can either apply directly on LinkedIn or directs you to the website where you can apply. LinkedIn Premium members can also see how competitive your resume is compared to the applicant pool.
- Additionally, at the bottom of the page, LinkedIn has a section for similar job postings which I found pretty useful.
Google is also a useful tool to search for any job postings if you know how to use it but it can take a decent amount of time to find them.
- On the search bar, type in the job description title (e.g. private equity associate)
- On the search results page, click on "Search Tools" below the search bar; click on "Anytime" and select "Past Month" or "Past Week" to filter out the old job postings
- I usually do this once a week so I select "Past Week" every time I do this
Progress as of Feb 21, 2014
Fund 4: A small / MM PE fund in CT (not Greenwich / Stamford) that I was not really interested in; Raising its second fund targeting close of $750mm. Found this through a headhunter I found on Google. First round was a phone interview that was really technical. I was asked to talk about the deals on my resume and was grilled on the model of one of the projects. They were looking to learn more about my thought process on the deal and whether I understood why I did what I did. I was asked to meet with the fund for a second round and walk them through a model I worked on; purely technical interview (e.g. why did you make certain assumptions in the model). Received an email a week later that they're moving forward with another candidates.
My thoughts: I took this interview purely for the interview practice. The dealbreaker was the fact that it was out of my geographical preference and I would have to move to a different city and that's not something I was looking to do. The guys I met seemed like a good group of people but I was just not willing to give up my current residence in the concrete jungle. The interview was definitely the most technical one out of all the interviews and definitely a great learning experience.
Fund 5: A sovereign wealth fund trying to establish a presence in the US. I found this job through one of the headhunters I reached out to. The interview didn't go too well. One of the questions I stumbled on was "what do you think is the investment strategy of a sovereign wealth fund", to which I responded with "I believe a SWF has an investment strategy to invest in safer assets and hold it for a longer time horizon compared to a traditional PE fund."
My thoughts: I didn't have high hopes for the fund post the interview. Mostly because my answer to the SWF question was weak and wrong. And also because I discovered the head of the US office had just switched over from another PE fund whom we kind of screwed over on its first deal in the US a year ago. So unfortunately, I did not get a second round. I wasn't particularly bummed about not advancing with this opportunity because I didn't think I'd be a good fit at the fund.
Fund 6: A megafund with $7bn dry powder; industry focused fund looking for an immediate start. First round was very technical; I met with 2 VPs and a senior partner. The VPs asked purely technical questions and the senior partner was semi technical and some fit questions. I didn't think I'd get a second round but I was asked to come back for a second round. Met with 5 senior guys at the fund and was given a case study and model afterwards; unfortunately didn't not get asked to go back for a third round.
My thoughts: I was a bit bummed I didn't get this job purely because (1) rejection still sucks no matter the number of times being rejected and (2) it was a very well reputed fund in the industry. However, I didn't connect very much with the junior guys so maybe it just wasn't meant to be.
Fund 3: I was asked to go back for a second round. I met with a vp and 5 senior guys at the fund. The questions centered around my deal experiences so I was grilled on every project I listed on the resume. I thought the interview went well. I really liked the people I met so far and it seems like a great opportunity ($4 bn dry powder). I was asked to conduct an online assessment that took 3.5 hours at my own convenience.
My thoughts: It was definitely not a good idea to begin the test on a Monday night at midnight and I didn't get home until 4am that morning. I was sort of nervous on the result because it's one of those tests where I had no grasp on how well/bad I did. Luckily, I was asked to come back for a third round a week later. I met with the most senior guys at the fund and they were both asked behavioural questions. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this one.
I've just recently started recruiting for PE and figured I'll keep the PE-hopefuls at WSO updated throughout the process and get some advice from the more seasoned guys here.
A little bit about myself:
- 3rd year at a MM IB firm
- Industry coverage with 4 other team members in the group
- Graduated from non-target undergrad with a degree in Econ
- Female, Non-Caucasian
Situation overview: Started out in the typical 2-year analyst program at the bank and really liked my experience the first two years. While some of the guys from my class started recruiting as early as 6 months into the job, I truly felt like I could do banking forever. My hours weren't that bad the first year - averaged about 75 hours a week; mainly because my group was recently established and the 2 senior guys were still building the pipeline. First year experiences included industry research, pitchbooks, formatting, etc., which I enjoyed doing. Did not gain much modeling experience because the industry is very niche and group members didn't trust me to build the models (models were over 10mb). Modeling was done by the associate, VP, and director of the group. I reviewed precedent models and online tutorials to get a sense of what it entails.
At the end of year 1, received mid-tier bonus because I "wasn't as strong as the other analysts". I think he was just looking for an excuse because (1) there was no formal analyst ranking system and we do not work with other groups so there was no way he would be able to compare the analysts and (2) the group generated 0 revenue since I joined. I was fine with the ranking considering the circumstances and the fact that my hours weren't so bad the first year.
Finally got to model during my second year. I was tasked with modifying and running a refi-model without any sort of training from team members. Difficult at first (I haven't even built a basic lbo model at that point!) but was successful after asking VP a lot of questions - definitely a huge learning experience for me. At the same time, I was having problems juggling priorities because I was the only analyst in the group and was being stretched in all directions. The model took a lot of my time (to get a sense of how big / intricate the model is, it took me 20 hours to change the calculation period from semi-annual to quarterly). Associate got annoyed at several occasions because I was tied up with the model.
At the end of year 2, received mid-tier bonus because: (1) I was only spitting out outputs and not putting in any effort in thinking about what the outputs meant; (2) I need to speak up more; and (3) I need to socialize more with the other analysts and build up my network (not sure how this is relevant to my performance; irregardless, I couldn't disagree with this more. I talk to almost everyone (at the junior level) at the office). Anyways, got an offer to stay for 3rd year, and it went downhill from there.
I've basically lost all motivation to work. I'm still the sole analyst in the group. I'm still doing the same b/s that I've been doing for the last 2.5 years (profiles, industry research, books, etc.), and my associate is getting on my nerves (usually happens when you have to work with someone everyday for the last 2.5 years and that someone micro-manages).
Recruiting process: Finally started recruiting for PE in November after realizing how much I disliked the job. Figured I can get the intro meetings out of the way before recruiting season kicks off. I asked the other analysts for a list of headhunters to reach out to and prep materials to use.
Below is the list of recruiters that I reached out to in November using the following criteria:
(a) Size - MM+
(b) Location - NY, LA, SF, London, Asia
(c) Industry - Prefer to be generalist but open to my current industry as well (although I am not interested in my industry, it seems to be the next big thing. It's only smart to use all the leverage I can).
List of Recruiters (let me know if there are any other recruiters I should reach out to):
Bellcast Partners - One of the very few recruiters who reached out to me second year; not very responsive on setting up a meeting; finally was able to schedule a meeting to meet end of Jan.
Mercury Partners - Another recruiter who reached out; have not set up an intro call but have been receiving job opps through email
JSB Partners - Referred to by Friend A in hedge fund; no response
iFind Group - Referred to by Friend A; met in person in November; firm is more focused on HF / FoF jobs
The Mergis Group - Referred to by Friend A; met in person in December; firm is more focused on HF jobs
Greenkey Resources - Referred to by Friend A; spoke over the phone in November; job opps so far have been corp dev / IB jobs
Atlantic Group - Reached out to me through LinkedIn; spoke over the phone in November; more focused on corp dev jobs
SG Partners - No contact at this firm besides the resume drop email (if anyone has any contact here, please forward!)
Michael Page - Applied for a job through its website (large recruiting firm and not PE focused); met in person in November; more focused on IB / general front office positions
Oxbridge - Met in December; provided typical recruiting advice; have yet to hear from them
Opus - Have yet to speak on the phone with them but have been receiving job opportunity emails
Search one - Met in December; have yet to receive anything from them
CPI - Met in December; most responsive / successful recruiter so far; received several emails of interest
Permsol - Unresponsive
Long Ridge Partners - Spoke in December; more focused on HF
Amity - Have tried 2 different recruiters at this firm; both unresponsive;
McKibben Group - Unresponsive
Dynamics - Spoke over the phone in Jan;
CarterPierce - Spoke in December; mostly west coast; have received a couple of emails from them
Henkel Search Partners - Met in December; have yet to receive any emails from them
GloCap - Met in December; have yet to receive any emails from them
Selby Jennings - Reached out through eFinancial in Jan; Like Michael Page, it is a large recruiting firm and not PE focused
Websites that I've used:
eFinancial - limited job opps but useful
Go Buyside - limited job opps but useful
LinkedIn - most useful of all; highly recommend
Progress as of Jan. 15, 2014: It has been 2 months since I've kicked off the recruiting process. I have interviewed with 3 megafunds (industry focused):
Fund 1: One of the largest funds in my industry with over $100bn AUM. Found the job through LinkedIn. I first spoke with the firm's HR department for a quick intro / background discussion. First round interview is with one of the directors; thought I did horrible but got called back for a psychometric test the week after. Got an email 2 hours post the test and was told my results were really high, and scheduled a third round interview for the week after. Met with 5 team members for the third round and was asked some relatively difficult questions in regards to the return on the deals that I worked on. Didn't think I did well. Received the rejection call 2 days later. Main feedback was I need to think more like an investor.
My thoughts: I was severely unprepared for this. I did not know what to expect and only reviewed the basic Vault guide for PE, Breaking Into Wall Street PE, and the random prep materials from colleagues and whatever I can find on the internet. This was a huge learning experience as it got me thinking more from buy side's perspective.
Fund 2: MM / MF, with $12bn AUM and $3bn of dry powder. Found the job through LinkedIn. HR sent across a form to fill out with typical interview questions: why PE, where do you see yourself in 5-years, etc. Scheduled first round interview for the week after. I mentioned this job to my peer and he also applied for the position. Scheduled first round interview 2 days before mine, and told me that the interview was not at all technical. He met with the 5 team members + HR. I had 1 on 1 interviews with 4 team members (1 VP & HR had to jump onto another call) and genuinely liked everyone I met and the fund's strategy. Fairly basic interview questions: walk me through your resume, tell me about your deals, etc. Both my peer and I received a rejection email from HR a week later. I asked for feedback from the team but did not receive a response
My thoughts: Really wished I got some type of feedback from HR but I guess they were looking for a certain fit.
Fund 3: One of the largest funds in my industry with $5bn of dry powder. Found the job through a random website which directed me to a recruiting firm's website. Spoke with recruiter over the phone and set up a first round interview the following week (this past Monday). Met with one of the associates at the fund. The interview was a combination of fit and technical. He had a list of questions (e.g. where do you see yourself in 10 years; what are your main strengths / weaknesses etc.) and 4 case studies (e.g. given a CIM, how would you go about evaluating this company). At the end of the interview, I was told they're still looking through resumes so it'll be a while before I will hear from them
My thoughts: I think I did fairly well on the interview. Stumbled on a couple of fit questions but was on point with the case studies. Recruiter said the fit is very important at the firm so we'll just have to wait and see...
My group head / MD pulled me into his office in December and asked me what I planned to do next year. I gave him an honest answer - I told him I have not decided yet and have just started looking. It would be ignorant of me to not to. And he agreed and told me that while I do good work, he's not sure whether I would get an associate offer, that I haven't shown a desire to become an associate. I told him I agreed with him and that I had lost motivation at work, mainly because my learning curve has plateaued and I've been doing the same work for 2.5 years. His advice to me is to figure out what I want to do and go after it 100%. And if I wanted to do PE in my current industry, he'd be more than happy to put in a couple of good words for me. yes - I know it was stupid of me to tell him that I was looking but he would eventually figure it out and I didn't feel like lying. Better to be honest about it especially in a group with only 5 people.
And so here I am, browsing through WSO for any advice and tips it may offer while I wait on emails from headhunters, checking my personal email every 5 minutes. Wish me luck!