Most people think they have a good resume, and many do, but Private Equity recruiters are looking for a very particular style. Without the right resume and previous job experience, it doesn’t matter how smart or how hard working you are, you won’t get in the door.
First and foremost, a private equity resume needs to have the right job experience. Most private equity associate day-to-day responsibilities require extensive financial modeling skills. Day in and day out private equity analysts and associates will have their head stuck in excel, modeling out various transaction structures (for example, to test the feasibility of a potential LBO of a public company). Given that private equity is transaction driven, PE candidates need to show relevant transaction experience as well. This could include completing an IPO for a technology company to advising a company on a bid to take the company private.
There are essentially 6 criteria that Private Equity recruiters look for when looking at a resume:
- Relevant previous job experience: Recruiters are particularly looking for two to three years of investment banking or consulting experience.
- Analytical/Quantitative Ability: Given that Private Equity analyst & associate responsibilities rely heavily on your proficiency in financial modeling, you need to show that you are more than capable of independently working at a PE firm. Expect to get tested for analytics in your interview.
- Academic Excellence: Most Private Equity firms will not look at a candidate that has lower than a 3.0 GPA (more likely 3.5 GPA at top firms).
- Communication Skills: Ability to write and speak well suggests that you’ll be successful working with clients and PE colleagues. Have you presented in front of a class or group of people? Written successful papers?
- Teamwork Skills: Collaborating with clients and the Private Equity firm’s investment team is a critical component to a PE job. Have you been a member of a sports team? Work effectively with people? Taken on the role of a team leader or player?
- Social Compatibility: Headhunters and PE employers make sure that you will be compatible with the group member you will be interacting with on a day-to-day basis. Is the candidate someone I will be able to interact with for the majority of every business day?