For many people, a job in private equity would be a dream come true. Perhaps the generous salaries may be able to offer you financial security that you had never before thought possible, you may thrive working in a high-pressure and fast-paced environment, it may have even been a goal of yours to work in the financial sector since you were a schoolchild. The fact of the matter is though, private equity is an extremely competitive industry and securing a job at a top firm is no easy task. If you’re serious about looking for a private equity job, there are some measures you can take to give yourself the best possible chance of landing that dream position.
General Job Prospects
In case you have had your head buried in the sand for the past four years or so, we’re in the middle of a global economic crisis. This isn’t going to count in your favour I’m afraid, as business isn’t exactly booming at the moment for finance-based industries such as private equity. Don’t get disheartened already though, this just means it’s going to be difficult to find your dream job, not impossible.
Larger private equity firms are still looking to take on a small number of staff each year, so the vacancies are there, even if there is increased competition for them. If you already work in the banking industry, you may also find that you are recruited by a head-hunter for a job in private equity. If you’re not a firm believer in fate and you’d rather take matters into your own hands, why not track down and contact some head-hunters by yourself, if they think you’re a high quality candidate, they may be able to offer you a way into the industry.
If you’re a new graduate with aspirations of breaking into the private equity sector, you may be keen to realise your dreams immediately after leaving university. Unfortunately, you might have to slow down slightly. Unless you have been lucky enough to secure some work experience at a private equity firm in the past, you are unlikely to have the sort of experience that you will require for a job in the sector.
Don’t worry, this isn’t the end of the world. If you can afford to do so, why not try and find an unpaid internship at a firm, it will provide you with invaluable experience and you may even be offered at job at the end of your time there. If you know you won’t be able to afford to work without pay for a few months, you’ll have to either have earned a degree from a top (and I mean top) university or get lucky with your networking. New graduates may need to take a step back, find a job in a related finance sector and work towards private equity as a long-term career goal.
If you’re working in an industry like consulting which is somewhat related to private equity, you will have some good prospects of being able to secure the job you’re looking for in the sector. There are some firms out there that are notoriously reluctant to hire those from a consultancy background, but don’t let that discourage you.
Some private equity firms to the contrary are known for their predilection to those who have worked in consultancy; it’s your job to research which firms favour consultants, track them down and see if they’re currently employing. Better news yet for consultants is that in a market which is slowing down, many firms are looking for people with your experience, as they’re currently focusing their time building on what they have with their current clients, rather than searching out new ones. Management consultants should try to enter the private equity industry with a mid-sized firm and look to build their new career from there.
If you’re an investment banking analyst or work in a similar role and you’re looking to make the move into private equity then you’re in luck, head-hunters looking for new recruits are most likely to be tracking down someone with your skills and experience. If you’re going to get approached by a head-hunter, it is most likely to happen early in the calendar year. You’ll be asked to explain your experience and essentially make a case for your employment with the firm.
If you are a financial analyst of some form, your potential new employers will already know that you’re capable of doing the job, you instead have to make a case for yourself as a person; what will you bring to their setup that no one else can? Are you a reliable character? Will colleagues enjoy working with you? If you can rise to the challenge and prove you’re the man for the job, you should have no trouble finding a job in private equity.
As you can see, there is no direct route into a private equity job. Some paths are more well-trodden than others, but all lead to the eventual goal. Probably the most important thing to think about is whether or not you are cut out for a job in the sector and whether it’s definitely what you want to do. If you don’t have the right character for the job, you may wake up every morning feeling downtrodden and demoralised, but if you are sure that you’re cut out for it, private equity can be a fast-paced, exciting and engaging career.
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Dealmarket is a large private equity marketplace that conencts entrepreneurs and investors around the world into the same management platform.