Quitting with no gig lined up - deathwish?

I am a top BB, top group and top bucket analyst based in London.

I've done quite some soul searching, and came to the conclusion that I want to do VC in SF / Menlo. Have a comp sci education and experience in tech, so don't think VC per se is a far shot.

For a variety of reasons, my current plan is to quit banking, move to SF and devote myself to full-time job hunting over there. I've tried the headhunter route, but it's difficult to get traction from across the route. In addition, I am working 120 hours weeks, and finding it very difficult to put time into prep.

My question is: would VCs be put off by the fact that I would be unemployed when reaching out to them? I was recently ranked in the top of my analyst class, so that should provide some comfort that I'm actually good, and not someone who quit banking for fishy reasons.

Also, please ignore any immigration points, as I have the right to live in the U.S.

Any advice / insight would be incredibly appreciated.

Comments (59)

 
Feb 4, 2015 - 6:09am

No man don't do this. Get an MBA and intern in a tech firm.

 
Feb 4, 2015 - 9:38am

the silver lining in all you said is that the time difference would make it possible for you to speak (over the phone/skype, etc.) with potential employers in SF even with your full time job. You just need to make sure they understand that you have no immigration issues and have no second thoughts about making the move from london to sf.

Quitting your current job is never a good idea.

 
Feb 4, 2015 - 12:07pm

Counterpoint: Higher risk, higher reward, full time job searching can broaden and increase knowledge of the job market as well as enhance personal sales skills. Headhunters can be good but also bias towards their clients.

A reason for leaving is critical because everyone will ask this. "I left my firm in London to pursue the economic opportunities in San Francisco and to experience another country. Silicon Valley is the future and I wanted to be a part of it. I had some interview leads and pursued those leads."

But how would you secure a house or an apartment? To me, that's the hardest part, I guess you would need a bunch of cash. The MBA idea kind of solves this problem.

 
Feb 4, 2015 - 8:32pm

ChicagoMammoth:

Counterpoint: Higher risk, higher reward, full time job searching can broaden and increase knowledge of the job market as well as enhance personal sales skills. Headhunters can be good but also bias towards their clients.

A reason for leaving is critical because everyone will ask this. "I left my firm in London to pursue the economic opportunities in San Francisco and to experience another country. Silicon Valley is the future and I wanted to be a part of it. I had some interview leads and pursued those leads."

But how would you secure a house or an apartment? To me, that's the hardest part, I guess you would need a bunch of cash. The MBA idea kind of solves this problem.

This.

I'm going to go against the grain and say "quit." If you are miserable working 120 hour weeks and want to do VC then go chase it full time. Be sure to leave in a classy way and on good terms with your boss and colleagues.

You can use the answer in the quote above by @"ChicagoMammoth" to answer the "why did you quit" question. You can also say "banking just wasn't for me. It was sell side and transaction driven. I wanted to invest. I wanted to be involved in transformational stuff etc" Lots of guys like to hear that stuff (in addition to their passion, its validating their careers).

Securing housing? Plenty of people with little/no money do it. Live in a middle/lower class area, or dial it back to the college days and find some roommates. No big deal.

Life is short. If you have some experience in banking, you can probably get back in. One has to take chances... In addition to the risk of not getting a job quickly, there is always the risk of... well.. not taking the risk of doing something that you want to (or think that you want to) do.

Good Luck.

Good Luck

I used to do Asia-Pacific PE (kind of like FoF). Now I do something else but happy to try and answer questions on that stuff.
 
Feb 4, 2015 - 2:55pm

Considering that no one here has ever quit without anything lined up, I'd take their advice w/ a grain of salt

speed boost blaze
 
Feb 4, 2015 - 3:13pm

I'd test the waters with the VCs that have offices in London first. It'll be way easier to get a position with a London office and transfer than it will be to quit and do a cold search in a brand new country and city. If you're such a good analyst, why not request a transfer to your bank's SF office? That way they'll pay your moving expenses, and you'll be earning a decent salary to afford the insane cost of living while being on the doorstep of all the funds you want to join.

VC is incredibly competitive, and it sounds like you're vastly underestimating the talent pool already in the Bay Area. Just because you're a good analyst at a good bank doesn't necessarily mean you've got a shot at VC. A comp sci undergrad is a dime a dozen in SF, everyone has "tech experience", and VCs prefer to hire entrepreneurs than they do bankers anyway.

 
Feb 4, 2015 - 3:49pm

The other thing not being mentioned is a plan B. If you actually did quit and you were having trouble getting a VC gig, you need to have a timeline and a gameplan for other options. Also, what kind of savings do you have? SF ain't cheap... I mean, I wouldn't quit with 10k to your name and some hardcore ambition. Ambition don't pay the bills.

"Decide what to be and go be it." - The Avett Brothers
 
Feb 5, 2015 - 9:15am

There's lots of good advice here already, so I don't have much to add. @Marcus_Halberstram and @xqtrack sum up nicely the two perspectives you should be balancing.

The bottom line is that if you're going to do this, you have to know deep down that this is what you want, and you have to know that you've put in the blood, sweat, and tears to get the data you need to understand your chances and position yourself correctly. My gut reaction from your post is that you haven't done this yet, but you're the only person who can really answer the question.

http://www.deconstructingexcellence.com/
 
Feb 4, 2015 - 4:07pm

VCs invest in unemployed people. Don't see why they would make that a big deal for employees.

Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne
 
Feb 4, 2015 - 4:47pm

Just because you've done banking and have a little tech background doesn't make you a fit for VC. VCs have gotten extremely competitive over here, even more so than the traditional IBD/PE etc just because there are so few spots and they take people from non-traditional backgrounds.

If I were you I would either look for VC in London, or look for a banking/corp dev/consulting job in the bay area, move over here for a few years and then make your move to VC.

 
Feb 4, 2015 - 6:04pm

arbrisk:

I am a top BB, top group and top bucket analyst based in London.

I've done quite some soul searching, and came to the conclusion that I want to do VC in SF / Menlo. Have a comp sci education and experience in tech, so don't think VC per se is a far shot.

For a variety of reasons, my current plan is to quit banking, move to SF and devote myself to full-time job hunting over there. I've tried the headhunter route, but it's difficult to get traction from across the route. In addition, I am working 120 hours weeks, and finding it very difficult to put time into prep.

My question is: would VCs be put off by the fact that I would be unemployed when reaching out to them? I was recently ranked in the top of my analyst class, so that should provide some comfort that I'm actually good, and not someone who quit banking for fishy reasons.

Also, please ignore any immigration points, as I have the right to live in the U.S.

Any advice / insight would be incredibly appreciated.

I call bullshit.

No chance are you working consistent "120 hours weeks" in London (great spelling and grammar for a top bucket analyst!). You've "done quite some soul searching" have you? And the end result of this intense process was you want to trade one prestigious finance job for another? Get lost.

Are you even a real person, or is WSO so starved for content that they're inventing fictional people with fictional problems?

 
Feb 5, 2015 - 8:59am

AndyLouis:

CuriousCharacter:

Are you even a real person, or is WSO so starved for content that they're inventing fictional people with fictional problems?

lol

Looking at his username now I'm starting to think WSO created this second guy to accuse the first guy of being created by WSO so as to throw us off the WSO content creation trail.. I need a drink.

This to all my hatin' folks seeing me getting guac right now..
 
Feb 4, 2015 - 9:01pm

I'd take these other posters' advice with a grain of salt. Most of them are highly risk averse and not everyone has the self confidence and stick-to-it-iveness to pull it off. It sounds like you may.

If you really want to do VC, leaving London for SF is probably a good start. But make sure that:

(1) you have meaningful experience at your current bank, i.e., at least 1-2 years; if you've been there less than a year you will have a VERY hard time since people will immediately assume the worst when they see you unemployed 6-12 months out of college
(2) make sure you have enough scratch saved up or have a few solid friends to crash with; be prepared for this to take longer than planned and longer than comfortable; obviously base case is it will be done in a timely manner... but you need to be prepared for a downside case
(3) make sure you've already exhausted all opportunities before hand, i.e., trying to get traction for SF while sitting in London
(4) lay down the ground work before you leave; this is a somewhat risky maneuver so you want to minimize risk in the areas you can control; I'd do this by pre-networking with people so you have some solid warm leads once you step foot in SF; also there's not only 2 scenarios where one is being unemployed and the other is working 120 hours a week, if you know you're leaving, you might as well keep clipping a paycheck and half ass at work so you have time to get your affairs in order, do research/networking to learn how VCs do business, maybe interview with some VC/tech/start-ups in Europe to get some interview practice, etc

I have a friend who did something similar but he went NY to CA, and it wasn't for VC but for lateral within banking. He really wanted to be on the west coast and is in a very specific banking group and wasn't having much success interviewing for West Coast positions while sitting in NY. So he laid some groundwork, eventually quit his job, moved out west and ended up landing something within short order.

Keep in mind, this has a lot to do with attitude and preparation. This could very easily end up being a fuck up if you're not diligent and smart.

So proceed with caution,, but believe in yourself and be resilient.

Array
 
Feb 5, 2015 - 6:55am

Marcus_Halberstram:
if you know you're leaving, you might as well keep clipping a paycheck and half ass at work so you have time to get your affairs in order
I'm always surprised when someone knows they're going to leave a job soon and is still grinding it out as if they're going to stay forever. I would take this advice OP. Try to get as much stuff set up as you can from your current seat and you will probably know when it is time to leave.
 
Feb 4, 2015 - 11:12pm

This is a really dumb idea, if you actually want to be in VC for your next job.

If, however, you want to be in banking (like Marcus Halberstram's friend), or are open to the idea of generally just finding employment in San Francisco (say at a tech startup doing biz dev work or what have you), then it makes a lot more sense, and is doable.

VC is extremely competitive -- I have friends in b-school right now who are fighting to get a job at VC funds. You're a much less compelling candidate if unemployed, particularly if you don't have any relevant experience (like it sounds beyond banking, and it seems like you may even be a first year analyst). If you have some experience that you haven't talked about that makes you a compelling candidate (other than banking), then it may work out as well.

It's not about risk aversion...it's about probability of success. If you set a really high bar for your next goal, it's always a long shot even when you are the 'perfect' candidate. So don't make yourself an imperfect candidate willingly. On the other hand, if you're willing to settle in order to make a change and realize that risk that you may have to permanently take your standard of living down from what you're used to in the finance lifestyle, definitely go for it.

 
Best Response
Feb 5, 2015 - 1:39am

So I'll be the contrarian here. Go for it. Seriously. Quit, pack your bags and go. Life is short and it will all work out. I did something very similar, quit my top BB job as an associate, moved across the globe....even went traveling for 6 months in between....and found a job within 4 weeks....and it was exactly the job that I had always dreamed of having. Of course there were so many nay sayers, but at the end of the day you have to take some risks in life. Most people don't regret the things they did, only the things they didn't do. I have tried cross-continent job hunting before and it's kinda tough. People would ask me if they could meet me in person the following day and I would be like..."uhmmm...no....the flight takes 20 hours and time difference is 15 hours...so maybe next week?" This really doesn't work too well. So if you know what you want, just go for it. Of course there is no guarantee that you will get exactly the type of job you are looking for, but oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. You have worked at a top BB and I assume you didn't just start 6 months ago, so unless you blew it all, you should have some savings that would be able to sustain you for a while. Don't do an MBA. That's 2 years and lots of $$$ gone. I thought I needed to do an MBA to get into the type of PE that I wanted to do and had already sent all my MBA applications in when it occured to me that maybe I should just apply for my ideal jobs as well and see what happened...and voila, I got it, no MBA needed. You can still do an MBA later on if you want to/need to.

Somehow people are so concerned about making their resumes look perfect and there is this real fear of any gap on your resume which I just so don't get. Life is more than your resume. And the most interesting and most succesful people I have ever met are the ones who took some risks at some point. In my life, there have been 3 instances where I have taken real risks (professionally speaking I mean) and each of these times, it has turned into the most amazing and crazy opportunities...opportunities that I couldn't even have envisioned in my wildest dreams had I not taken those 3 crucial risks where everyone told me that this is career suicide.

And btw, I am telling you all this despite the fact that I don't even like SF, I worked there and didn't like it at all, but this does not change my advice to you. It could be the best move you will ever make, but there is only one way to find out.

 
Feb 5, 2015 - 5:41am

Gini:

So I'll be the contrarian here. Go for it. Seriously. Quit, pack your bags and go. Life is short and it will all work out. I did something very similar, quit my top BB job as an associate, moved across the globe....even went traveling for 6 months in between....and found a job within 4 weeks....and it was exactly the job that I had always dreamed of having. Of course there were so many nay sayers, but at the end of the day you have to take some risks in life. Most people don't regret the things they did, only the things they didn't do. I have tried cross-continent job hunting before and it's kinda tough. People would ask me if they could meet me in person the following day and I would be like..."uhmmm...no....the flight takes 20 hours and time difference is 15 hours...so maybe next week?" This really doesn't work too well. So if you know what you want, just go for it. Of course there is no guarantee that you will get exactly the type of job you are looking for, but oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. You have worked at a top BB and I assume you didn't just start 6 months ago, so unless you blew it all, you should have some savings that would be able to sustain you for a while. Don't do an MBA. That's 2 years and lots of $$$ gone. I thought I needed to do an MBA to get into the type of PE that I wanted to do and had already sent all my MBA applications in when it occured to me that maybe I should just apply for my ideal jobs as well and see what happened...and voila, I got it, no MBA needed. You can still do an MBA later on if you want to/need to.

Somehow people are so concerned about making their resumes look perfect and there is this real fear of any gap on your resume which I just so don't get. Life is more than your resume. And the most interesting and most succesful people I have ever met are the ones who took some risks at some point. In my life, there have been 3 instances where I have taken real risks (professionally speaking I mean) and each of these times, it has turned into the most amazing and crazy opportunities...opportunities that I couldn't even have envisioned in my wildest dreams had I not taken those 3 crucial risks where everyone told me that this is career suicide.

And btw, I am telling you all this despite the fact that I don't even like SF, I worked there and didn't like it at all, but this does not change my advice to you. It could be the best move you will ever make, but there is only one way to find out.

This post should be pinned up somewhere on this board for all to read... specifically what I've quoted below from the post made by @"Gini" is what stands out to me.

1. "Go for it. Seriously. Quit, pack your bags and go. Life is short and it will all work out."

2. "Of course there were so many nay sayers, but at the end of the day you have to take some risks in life. Most people don't regret the things they did, only the things they didn't do. "

3. "I have tried cross-continent job hunting before and it's kinda tough. People would ask me if they could meet me in person the following day"

4. "So if you know what you want, just go for it. Of course there is no guarantee that you will get exactly the type of job you are looking for, but oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained."

5. " Life is more than your resume."

6. "And the most interesting and most successful people I have ever met are the ones who took some risks at some point." (one could also add: rich and happiest, not always the same but not necessarily mutually exclusive either)

I used to do Asia-Pacific PE (kind of like FoF). Now I do something else but happy to try and answer questions on that stuff.
 
Feb 5, 2015 - 10:35am

Most people on WSO will tell you don't do it because most IB types have a small appetite for risk. It's the nature of the role and it's place in the highly traveled finance career path. I have a good friend who left his gig at a F50 on the east coast to find a job in SF with an early-stage tech company. He slept on a couch for 2 months grinding to find that job but eventually landed an opportunity. He became one of the first employees in a company that has grown to a $5B+ valuation with an IPO on the horizon. If you're smart and have some financial stability I think there's unlimited upside potential with minimal downside. Its a no-brainer for me when you weigh out the worst case and best case scenarios.

 
Feb 5, 2015 - 11:27am

Is VC competitive, sure. Does that mean anything, no not really. All it means is you might have to put additional effort into it. I would go so far as to say VCs are more eclectic than they are competitive. If you have the boxes checked, it is going to come down to you more than anything else. Everyone likes to act like what they do is somehow ridiculously competitive or difficult. I can tell you from personal experience I found the HF work I did to be far easier than trying to whip a mfg company into shape to sell. If you can motivate people to reach goals and push limits you should be fine in the VC world. Just remember that the market is overheated. It is going to collapse at some point.

Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne
 
Feb 5, 2015 - 2:52pm

Firstly dont quit
Secondly there are a whole bunch of VC funds in London with SF offices surely it would make sense to lateral to their first?
Have you thought about goinging a clean tech banking group like GS'? Pretty open door to VC after a year or so.

 
Feb 5, 2015 - 8:41pm

caveat: i'm surrounded by people who took a big leap, whether it was to start a business here (i live in Buenos Aires), work remotely for an american company (like myself), or just simply hope they find something after they land, in due time. those that i end up meeting have usually survived, they've made it, so there is some obvious sample bias here

VC's, the corporate and finance world, obviously stricter paths for breaking in to something. VC's less so, but for some there is becoming a proper path of sorts

if all you can do is dream of this idea, if it makes you motivated to wake up in the morning, if you'll regret it for the rest of your life, then why not do it. be prepared though

how hard are you willing to knock down doors, cold call and network?
for how long and to what extent are you willing to rough at the beginning?
how much of your ego are you willing to swallow?
and even if you land safely, it make 2-3 difference VC positions before your'e truly happy with one

Some practical tips:
You must research / network / apply NOW. If you're too busy then you have to quit and live cheap until you're ready. The motivation may not be there to prepare for then (you're worn out, youre waiting till you arrive, etc) but trust me it is 10x easier in some respect (and less pressure obviously) before you've left than after you've arrived. I like above comments regarding associating yourself with the VC scene in London. If you have the time (hint make the time) get involved with the local scene, intern if you have to, whatever it takes. Why wait until SF? You ned relevant under your experience now.
Have at least 6 mo's living expenses saved up. More if you're willing/able to take a menial job in the mean time

Hope this helps

/

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

 
Feb 11, 2015 - 1:05am

Quitting job to search for new one (Originally Posted: 07/01/2014)

I've asked this question before in a consulting-specific context, but what are everyone's thoughts on quitting a time consuming job (finance, consulting, public accounting, whatever) in order to pursue something else with full focus and energy? The traditional wisdom says that any unemployed "gap" on a resume is a black mark, but young professionals today tend to move around significantly more than past generations. I've been told quitting a job to look for a new one is totally acceptable by some very qualified individuals, and I've seen others show much more hesitancy. Anyone have experiences doing this, or considered it before?

 
Feb 11, 2015 - 1:06am

lived with a guy who did it. took him 4 months to find something, wouldn't recommend it. financial reasons, he got bored out of his skull (you go gung ho for like 3 weeks with networking, applying, interviewing, and then it's a waiting game).

just say no.

 
Feb 11, 2015 - 1:07am

Like @"thebrofessor" said, I wouldn't recommend it unless you have a really big financial cushion. You can easily explain away a resume gap but you don't know how long it will take to get a new job. It's still not an awesome job market and if you don't have headhunters calling you it may take some time to land a new gig. Research headhunters in your field and talk to them about your background, how long they think it will take and the job market in your field and geography.

But I highly recommend taking a few weeks off between jobs once you're set with the new one.

 
Feb 11, 2015 - 1:11am

discodev:
Do you guys think it is a good idea to leave your job before having another one lined up?

The usual answer is no...

Does leaving my current job show I am committed to changing industries?

As far as I know, quitting a job without having anything lined up most prominently shows that you were tired of somebody's shit, or somebody got tired of yours.

If you absolutely hate your job and are liable to put your boss's stapler in jello just to piss him off, it may be okay to leave. But in 99% of cases I think it's best to suck it up and stick it out. Just ask yourself: if I were unemployed, would I actually dedicate all the time I spend at a job right now to finding another job where I want? If the answer is an honest yes, then consider it. Otherwise, keep cashing your checks and ramp up your job-search efforts.

in it 2 win it
 
Feb 11, 2015 - 1:13am

It will make it look like you got managed out/basically asked to leave. And then when you're networking/interviewing people will see you as desperate.

"Does leaving my current job show I am committed to changing industries?"

It may have the opposite effect. They may see you as some unemployed IM guy who'll take any job and is casting a wide net including energy trading.

And that's all ignoring the financial implications of possible extended unemployment, especially in this environment.

Stay at your damn job until you find another one.

 
Feb 11, 2015 - 1:22am

prob easier to get away with; just say you got laid off. accordingly, harder to get a job in this market as well. i mean at the end of the day, let's be real, nothing is ever resume suicide if you're smart enough or savvy enough to get around it. but yeah, if you can avoid quitting, i def would; it's certainly the safer option.

 
Feb 11, 2015 - 1:23am

Can you give us more background? Based on your limited info, I'd say it's a dumb idea and to avoid it all costs. The next firm you interview with is going to be that much more likely to call your old firm for references if you're not currently employed.

From their perspective, they're looking at 1 of 2 candidates. Candidate 1 is a strong and desirable analyst looking for other opportunities. Candidate 2 is unemployed and pretty sketch ("well he says he quit, but why would he? I think he got sacked" - what they're thinking to themselves) They'll be much more inclined to hire candidate 1.

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