Career Fairs Today – Thanks for the preparation (and most importantly perserverence) I had some fruitful conversations, looking forward to the presentations tonight!
Why You Can’t Get an Investment Banking or Private Equity Job via Recruiters – And What to Do About It
You need to demonstrate 3 specific skills when you interview:
- How you made money for your firm in the past.
- How you saved them money.
- How you improved a process.
People come to me all the time and say, “So, where will I be in 10 years if I go to this firm? Can you give me an exact blueprint of my future career?”
Sure, here’s your blueprint: you make a lot of money for your firm and you move up. You don’t, and you’re out.
I could probably write a book about key mistakes, but here are just a few more:
- Not proving that you can evaluate and run a deal by yourself.
- Focusing too much on features and not enough on benefits.
- Relying on pedigree rather than results.
For #1, private equity firms might look at hundreds of deals each month, but might only invest in 2-3 per year max. Principals don’t have time to sift through all the information and evaluate every single detail – they need someone who can step up and do everything on their own.
On #2, this is just a classic sales mistake: too many people go in there and say, “Well, I have a 4.0 GPA from Harvard and I worked at Goldman Sachs.”
Guess what? Those are features, not benefits.
How will you make me money? How much money have you made or saved for other people in the past?
Whenever I meet a candidate for the first time, I make him/her write down 10 things that are great about himself/herself.
Even if it’s “I’m great at baking cookies, so you can enjoy great food if you hire me” that’s better than nothing – the point is to always present benefits rather than features.
#3 is related, but I see a lot of people from Ivy League schools and bulge bracket banks expecting the world just because they have well-known names on their resumes.
It doesn’t work like that: you need to deliver results if you want to advance.
Q: I also get lots of questions from people with Liberal Arts backgrounds who want to do banking or PE – how should they position themselves?
A: Actually, if you have a liberal arts background that can often be a big advantage because you’re probably much better at talking and BSing than math/science/finance nerds.
You want to position yourself as someone who can tell a good story around the numbers rather than just cranking out models all day long.
When they ask about your weaknesses, don’t say your analytical skills even if you’re tempted to mention that – pick something more qualitative and show how you’ve improved over time.
It’s not that you’re unqualified – but we just have so many people who do have finance experience lining up for jobs that it’s almost impossible unless you’re the Chairman’s son or you can bring a unique skill set to the table.
Q: OK, so what should people without the required experience do? How do you get noticed if you’re not a perfect match for the job?
A: Become your own recruiter. Make a list of firms you want to go after, go to LinkedIn, look up people at those places, contact them, call them, visit in-person and start introducing yourself like that.
Then once you get to know a bunch of people at a specific firm, you can come back to me and say, “Hey, I’ve made some inroads on my own and know these 10-15 people – now that I’ve done that, what can you do for me?”
That puts you in a much better position to interview there, and we can help you a lot more if you’ve already done some of the work yourself.
Also, look up jobs on Indeed.com – other sites are OK, but I’ve found that Indeed is the best for finance. Just search for “banking analyst,” don’t narrow down the region, and see what you can find there.
Some of these listings are for “ghost jobs” – they’re not actively recruiting at the moment, but they’re collecting resumes and will contact you when they’re ready.
A lot of bankers apply and expect to hear back the second they submit their resumes, but it doesn’t work like that – expect to wait up to 3 days for any “live” jobs.