Off Cycle Recruiting Stories

With the quote, "If you build it, they will come" in mind, does anybody have any success stories related to holding off with on-cycle recruiting, dunking on your first 2 years as an analyst, and then having PE firms knocking on your door? Or, is that a fool's plan and the most successful recruit ASAP.

Comments (29)

May 25, 2020 - 9:36pm

There are definitely cases in which you wait and then can get an amazing offer towards the end of your analyst year but imo it's not worth the risk to wait (can think of an analyst every year in my group that has done this and 80% of the time they end up with a fantastic offer) but I'd prepare for on cycle and try for then as it will be the time where you have the most options.

Of course if you're not ready at the time of on cycle then wait but I'd recommend recruiting as early as possible (if you know you want to leave and know what type of place you're looking for). If you don't know what you want to do next then spend time figuring that out first.

May 25, 2020 - 9:52pm

It took me the better part of 2 years and no invitations across two on-cycle events to get an offer, but when I finally did, I got two at once, one with a top fund (e.g., Vista, APO, etc.) and one with an UMM. In my two years, I got dinged at MFs (e.g., Advent), hedge funds, FoFs, VC firms, and tiny LMM funds alike. You can definitely be patient and opportunities will come. If you don't convert... that's on you.

  • Analyst 3+ in Consulting
May 26, 2020 - 4:32am

As in you didn't get interviews in the first 2 years, or you did and didn't land them? What changed?

Most Helpful
May 26, 2020 - 11:36am

As some background on myself, I am currently finishing up my two years in IB (coverage) at a BB (NYC) and will be transitioning this summer to working at a MM buyout fund in NYC.

I purposely held off on on-cycle recruiting right out the gate back as it starts a couple of months after you hit the desk after college. While I understand that on-cycle recruiting is the sure-fire and sometimes only way of getting into MF roles, at the end of the day it is a little absurd to recruit for a role after just starting at your present role as well as intellectual dishonest to look the recruiter or whoever is interviewing you in the eye and tell them that you know what you are talking about with respect to your "time in finance" as at that point you have limited to no tangible deal experience.

What I did instead was to focus on getting quality deal experience my first year so that I could have something to speak to during my interviews as well as on meeting all the PE head hunters, while telling them all that I only intended to recruit after completing one year on the job.

After the year passed, I followed up with the recruiters who I connected with with a well padded CV, networked with associates across the street, received interviews from about 10-15 places, and subsequently, received an offer from my top choice shop.

I would personally recommend not waiting two years to recruit, but rather build a solid foundation of work that you can speak to in one year and then use your remaining analyst year to fully commit to recruiting.

Off-cycle recruiting, particularly later in your analyst term is slightly more difficult (although I don't know as I didn't do on-cycle) because you are expected to know your stuff. You are expected to know your technicals and complete your model tests with no issues, you are expected to have deal experience and be able to speak to your deals inside and out. However, if anything, later term recruiting is less of a crapshoot in that way in that it allows you to come in fully prepared.

There are downsides however, if you don't prepare adequately and or just cruise through your first year in IB, that hurts you on the back end as you are expected to have experience out the gate. Furthermore, as just happened with recruitment collapsing in March / April, you can be caught on the wrong side of the cycle and out of the job versus your friends who might have recruited earlier / on-cycle.

Ultimately, any career move is a game of pros and cons. I personally would recommend to do off-cycle recruiting as it allows you to 1) maximize your preparedness, 2) network a ton across the street and 3) identify the opportunities you actually want to work (think lifestyle / culture, industry, fund strategy) rather than simply joining the rat race of on-cycle recruiting and that is the strategy that worked for me.

However, I have also heard plenty of success stories of people receiving fantastic on-cycle / early off-cycle offers, and if it works it works!

Happy to discuss further.

May 26, 2020 - 1:04pm

If you interview on-cycle with a firm and don't get the offer, is it possible for to get another interview with the same firm later on during off-cycle? As in, do you only get one chance before being dinged for a few years?

May 26, 2020 - 2:04pm

I have not heard of anyone getting an offer to re-interview after they did not get an offer the first time around for Private Equity.

It's kind of like dating if you think about it, you have one shot to make a great impression and given the raw amount of qualified candidates that are available, what is the point of going back to the person you rejected previously?

Again, there always is an exception and I'm sure maybe there is one person on this forum who might fit the bill, however, generally you should have the perspective that you have one chance, so make it count.

Jun 5, 2020 - 4:26pm

Yes, it is possible. BUT, it largely depends on the reason you didn't get the offer the first time around. The pace during on-cycle recruiting is insane, and as it kicks off earlier and earlier, we've seen candidates fall out of the process because they simply aren't deemed competitive with the 2nd year Analysts that are also interviewing. Many times it's a technical fail -- either not doing well on the modeling test, or unable to respond to the case questions "thinking like an investor"...but if you score really well on an interpersonal/fit level, you can often be considered for future processes. It's not unusual for us to reconsider candidates in a future off-cycle process, but whether or not they are invited to interview again is dependent on their "current" competition in the process and the new hiring need.

  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Cov
Jun 4, 2020 - 12:15am

How did you go about the initial HH emails that come before on-cycle? Did you ignore them until you were ready or did you speak with them and inform them that you were interested but wanted to wait?

Jun 4, 2020 - 2:07am

I waited until slightly past on-cycle recruiting, think winter of my first year as an analyst in IB to start reaching out to headhunters.

You have all their emails and they desperately want to meet as many people as possible as the more people they speak to, the wider pool of people they can potentially make money from by placing into other job positions.

It wouldn't hurt you in my opinion to start earlier and reach out to head-hunters before on-cycle if you indeed know that you are planning on doing PE.

Several things to make sure you are polished on before you meat head-hunters however are as follows:

1) your story -> why your current bank / group, where do you want to go? (PE) and why?
2) your work -> be able to speak on a high level about your work, if you are meeting a head-hunter right after starting, don't be afraid to leverage summer internship deal experience as some things you did at the firm
3) be neat and confident since headhunters are the gatekeepers of PE jobs (in most cases) and if you make a bad first impression with a headhunter there is no way they will connect you with their clients.

Hope this helped.

  • VP in PE - LBOs
May 26, 2020 - 12:34pm

Here's my story. Not saying it's representative of a normal experience but it's how things worked out for me. Apologies for the rambling ahead of time.

I started as an analyst in a mid tier group at a top BB (GS/MS/JPM) in 2013 and got absolutely crushed my first 6 months. I followed the crowd and dove into on cycle PE interviews in February of my first year and came up empty despite having a half dozen interviews with various MFs and UMM firms (Warburg, Lindsay Goldberg, Bain, etc). I only made it to a couple of second/final rounds and honestly was just i) a bad interviewer; ii) not particularly informed on my industry coverage; and iii) not completely there from a technical standpoint. I was completely demoralized after the process and didn't really know where to turn.

I spent the next several months taking various one-off interviews with all kinds of firms (HFs, LMM, distressed, credit, etc.) -- anyone who would let me in the door. Some of these were better than others but I noticed myself getting much better at telling my story, talking through behavioral questions etc. I was also getting better as an analyst and managed to get a couple of closed transaction under my belt while becoming an expert on my industry and developing some of my own unique views.

Finally, by the beginning of my second year I started having a lot more success with my interviews and eventually managed to get two separate megafund offers within the same week. Obviously I was lucky that they happened to have a need off cycle but I was ready to take advantage of the opportunity when it arose. In retrospect I don't know if it would have been better for me to wait out the on cycle process during my first year because it really was the repeated reps that gave me the edge. Your mileage may vary and if you're already a strong interviewer than maybe it makes sense to hold off an pick up deal experience. Otherwise, the practice really does help and to this day I view my interviewing skills as a key skill that helped me get into business school and get a good post-MBA job.

May 27, 2020 - 9:54am

Hey, would you mind shooting me a PM? Very interested in your background. Would love to ask some questions.


May 26, 2020 - 2:07pm

Let's just say I wasn't anywhere close to the process of on-cycle recruiting for various reasons.

I would have been written off by this forum, but long story short, got an offer at a very solid NY UMM off-cycle, business school (G/H), and have a post MBA position at a well known firm.

Moral of the story is at the analyst level, it tremendously pays off to be thoughtful with which firm / where you go / when to go - not to mention if you actually manage to do it with some deliberate thinking, it makes for a better HBS/GSB business-school story vs. the hundreds of applications they get every years that is Ivy -> GS/MS/JPM -> PE -> b school app.

  • Analyst 3+ in IB - Cov
May 27, 2020 - 11:34am

I waited about 2 years to interview. Spent my first year in banking at a meh shop with poor placement so I lateraled to an EB. Spent my second year getting crushed. Then right before my third year I started 2 UMM interview processes and went 2 for 2.

May 27, 2020 - 2:39pm

Would you mind Pm'ing me? Had a couple of questions about your experience- thanks sm.


  • Analyst 3+ in IB - Cov
May 29, 2020 - 3:45pm

For one of the funds I was referred by someone senior at my EB who was also kind enough to send them a note about how great of an analyst I was (whether true or not). For the other fund their strategy and investment criteria just lined up really well with the experience I had. I also think I was lucky and just got along particularly well with the people at both firms.

Plus I think having 2 years of banking experience and having had actual responsibility on deals was refreshing to the interviewers who are used to recruiting analysts with 2 months of experience.

  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Cov
Jun 4, 2020 - 12:16am

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