On Being Pushed Out

Hi WSO - been lurking for a while and wanted to share my experience of being pushed out. It's been about two years ago and when I was going through everything, I didn't see much coverage on here and I wanted to give back.

TLDR: worked hard as analyst; thrown under the bus on a project and pushed out; landed on my feet.

Background Story:

For some background - I entered investment banking (entity level capital raising and m&a advisory) coming from less than a year at a real estate broker and before that, coming from a non-target school. My team was small and although our brand is large in the a select space, it's not known for IB capabilities. When I joined, our team initially focused on a specific form of bond issuance after about a year, we brought on a guy that headed up the investment banking group at an "elite boutique" (think greenhill/Lazard) so we could enter the m&a advisory space.

First Year:

Over my first year, I would usually be staffed on tougher deals/projects than the other two analysts on my team usually because I focused on simply not making mistakes. I read that once on WSO and it has really served me well. So when the m&a guy joined the team about a year in, I was staffed working with him instead of focusing on the less detail oriented bond issuance focus. When I first started to work exclusively in m&a advisory, it was a fantastic learning experience and where I worked tirelessly (80-100 hour weeks) and learned so much about operating companies over the next 9 months. Because I didn't have the m&a background, there was a well-respected VP on the bond team that gave me guidance on m&a work because the head of m&a was focusing on business development instead of simple deal execution.

VP Completely Threw Me Under The Bus

About six months into my time on the M&A team (about a year and half in), I was staffed on creating a portfolio analysis for an existing client and as per usual, the bond VP would provide me guidance on how to complete it. There was a tight deadline (two days) and the m&a guy told me how much responsibility he was giving me so I naturally cared a great deal. I worked through the clock and the night before it was due, I sat down with the bond VP and he provided his critiques on the presentation. He basically told me to do an analysis a completely different way than the guidance provided by the head of m&a and told me to "trust him and keep it between us." I trusted him and when I turned it in the next day (sleeping about two hours), the head of the m&a team was infuriated. I explained what happened and my VP completely threw me under the bus describing how I purposefully ignored his and the head of m&a's guidance. I tried to defend myself but everyone had already made up their minds. I didn't have email evidence because the VP made the critiques orally in a room as the last ones in the office.

"Consistently make errors"

Next thing I know, I'm being pulled into an office with the head of the bond team (my official boss) with HR on the line saying how I "consistently make errors". This event occurred three weeks after I received a fantastic performance review by the same bond VP (that threw me under the bus) and paying me a bonus that was twice as large as promised. I tried to defend myself but they were not having it.

Asked to resign

I continued to work on projects over the next several weeks and whenever I submitted a first draft to the bond VP, he suddenly started forwarding it to HR describe it as sloppy when there was frankly no decline in my quality of work since one month earlier. One week later, I was pulled into my boss' office and I was being asked to leave. I asked to resign and they accepted it.

I was devastated

I could see the position I'd worked so hard for crumbling in front of me after the first HR talk so I was aggressively putting my resume out there. Even though the work I had been doing was great for interviews, I couldn't land something concrete before having to resign. I was devastated. However, I think in situations like this, it's important to focus your energy on creating a pipeline of opportunities. I kept interviewing and kept my resume dates saying "present" until a month after I left when I added the end date. Employers were surprisingly ok with the end date, it's just really important to have a reference in the event employers ask for it (the job I ended up taking did not even check references after asking for them).

Interviews - Keep it Positive

When they asked the recurring "tell me about yourself" bit, I simply just closed with "and I'm looking to enter [a larger shop/bigger team/get more asset level exposure]", just not even mentioning the exit. If they drill on why you left, just be nonchalant and say something along the lines of "I wanted to move closer to home (which was my situation) / it wasn't a good fit / or one of the above examples [feel free to add more in the comments]. Again, keep it positive and don't linger on it.

Landed a new role

After a little over 2 very intense months of looking (~a month after being jobless), I ended up getting three offers over a several day period. 1 was a reserve and two very good jobs. My reasoning with the reserve job is even if it ended up being terrible, I've heard from VP of a mid size PE group that a year is a minimum to not raise any major flags so I knew I could put up with whatever (and still keep learn) for a year. For a reference point, even after being pushed out like that, I ended up staying at this job for almost two years (with the goal of consistently learning) and just landed a job at a very well-respected buy side job (think VC/PE). I was only actively looking for like two months too. I think these great groups really judge you by your interviewing presentation and your knowledge more than anything.

Comments (37)

Apr 24, 2019

Wow! Very interesting story. Thanks for sharing. Could you describe in more detail what the process of "so I was aggressively putting my resume out there" looked like exactly?

Apr 24, 2019

It was basically just emailing my resume to every recruiter I could find and actively applying to open positions. I found recruiters to be generally more helpful than applying on a company site but take both avenues.

I also think it's important to really know your stuff cold (e.g. your "story" as well as more the more technical aspects of your job) before aggressively putting yourself out there. That way when the interview comes, your chances will improve dramatically. Recruiters will only put you up for so many interviews. That said, there are a ton of recruiters out there and companies often use multiple recruiters for the same position.

Apr 25, 2019

Do you feel like if you haven't done well (per feedback from one company who passed on you) then a recruiter might be disinclined to recommend you to another client in the future?

Apr 24, 2019

Why did you ask to resign? If fired, you could have alluded to wrongful termination, and then your employer would have likely provided some $$$ in exchange for you signing a release.

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Apr 24, 2019

I was thinking the same thing. If I opted to have been fired, sure I could have gotten some money but future calls to HR (for background checks at a new company) would show that I was employed on X dates and that I was fired. If I resigned, the HR person would say just that. I'd rather show that I resigned.

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Apr 24, 2019

Tbh I'm pretty sure HR at most companies just confirm that you worked there and the start/end dates, but I could be wrong.

Apr 25, 2019
Jumper83:

future calls to HR (for background checks at a new company) would show that I was employed on X dates and that I was fired

No they wouldn't. That's asking for a lawsuit

Apr 24, 2019

So that wouldn't be helpful to someone in a similar situation facing bad reviews, job search, etc? Especially with follow up questions?

Please point me to the useful stuff. I checked your post history briefly and didn't find any.

Apr 24, 2019

He didn't get bad reviews, to the contrary. He gave no details into his job search strategy. He didn't invite follow-up questions. Can't point you to the useful stuff because it doesn't exist in this post. Reading comprehension isn't your strong suit I take it. Try harder next time.

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Apr 24, 2019

I'm really confused by this story. You were doing a good job and had a VP that took an interest in helping you, and then in one day, for no reason, he decides to completely fuck you out of your job instead?

Most Helpful
Apr 24, 2019

VP told him to do the analysis a different way, VP's boss didn't like it and VP threw OP under the bus.

OP, glad you're still standing and took the high road, karma is a bitch for people like that VP

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Apr 24, 2019

Thanks man

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Apr 24, 2019

Good story and glad it worked out for you.

Takeaway for me (consistent with other stories I know) is that people will still give you a chance if you got fired or pushed out. I know OP didn't volunteer that info to employers, but I'm sure many of them thought it when he resigned without another job lined up. My guess is he would've had similar results if he volunteered the full info.

Everyone knows someone (often themselves) who was unfairly treated at a job. So most people won't ding you for that alone. There are a few mindless employers who run for the hills if someone was fired, but they're the extreme minority.

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Apr 24, 2019

Thanks for the thoughtful response.

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Apr 24, 2019

Anytime. I recommend you hire a PI to ruin the VP's life.

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Apr 24, 2019

Awesome story--

How'd you break in initially coming from an RE broker? I know the capital raising process is probably very similar but did you get pushback on working at the property level v company level?

Apr 24, 2019

It's a massive fortune 500 company and i interviewed for a different transaction-based role about a year earlier. I got to the final round but they ultimately wanted someone with more experience. I kept in touch with the HR person and when I started applying for new jobs I reached out to her. She was very friendly and went through the list of openings she had available including the bond job. I obviously chose that one and the interviews were basically asking me if I understood basic finance and showing that I had an interest. It was a new group and I think they wanted someone malleable (1 year of work experience) that could work.

Goes to show you to interview for whatever when you're desperate. Never know what can materialize.

Apr 25, 2019

It's really terrible to hear what had happened, but glad that you're on a much brighter path now!

What did you end up doing after you left that job? And how did this one help you pivot to your current job in PE/VC? Did you intend to recruit for this company or type of role much earlier on?

Apr 25, 2019

Thanks!

It's basically a back office support job that does works with PE groups with their distressed investments. As long as you're getting some exposure to what you really want to do, you can learn the skills you need independently and emphasize your experience during the interview.

Apr 25, 2019

It's these circumstances that separate the mentally fortified from the weak. Shit happens. Take a week to lick your wounds and get back after it.

Glad things turned out well OP. Read and take notes youngsters.

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Apr 25, 2019

This means a lot.

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Apr 25, 2019

How common is it to have a fucked up VP like that guy? Is the moral of this story to listen to the boss over the VP always? I feel like asking the boss to confirm would be a good move as well.

Apr 29, 2019

In a cutthroat industry like finance, there are just going to be a fair number of sociopaths, jerks and all around assholes. I don't know that I can assign a specific probability, but you will almost certainly encounter people like that if you're in finance long enough.

If I were in OP's shoes, I would probably have pushed back against the VP. Like how exactly is this going to be just between the two of them? They're showing it to the boss shortly... Maybe another route would be to send an email to the team suggesting VP's method and seeing if boss agrees before proceeding - "Hey we are looking at the analysis and were discussing method B - does this have any merit?"

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May 15, 2019
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Apr 29, 2019