Most people believe they have a good private equity resume and many do. However, PE firms in general are looking for very particular content, format, and style. In the following pages, the Street of Walls team will provide tips on how to build the perfect resume for applying to positions with buy-side firms.
In general, PE employers are looking for people who can deliver a superior final product, handle the stress associated with the job, maintain complete attention to detail, and be able to formulate a cogent investment thesis all at the same time. In order to convey this, you must be sure that your resume is as crisp and as sharp as you are. Recruiters and employers will spend about 30 seconds or less reviewing your resume, so first impressions is crucial and the correct format is critical.
For starters, a good PE resume is similar to an investment banking resume. Thus anyone who has applied to and obtained an investment banking position can use his or her resume from that interview process as a solid starting point. The resume should look professional and clean without typos. It needs to be formatted well and include strong credentials and, where possible, a glimpse into your personality. Making the slightest grammatical error or missing any aspect of the correct format is a fairly likely way to get your resume rejected at the outset. In the discussion that follows, we will provide guidance on what to include in terms of the behavioral and technical aspects of your resume.
Behavioral Aspects of your Resume
In order to build the perfect private equity resume, you must first understand what characteristics private equity firms are looking for. Below we list a few traits that must stand out from your resume in order for you to be well positioned to receive PE interviews. Ideal PE candidates will have the following characteristics:
- Filtered through data and assumptions, and identified reasonable responses to complex problems?
- Synthesized large amounts of information and identified issues?
- Identified an important problem and taken a proactive approach to solving it?
- Done well in academic courses and previous experience, demonstrating skill with heavy analytical and quantitative content?
- Performed experiments that required the formulation of a hypothesis and collection of evidence to prove or disprove it?
- Brought new customers and revenue into your company?
- Proven yourself as a self-starter who goes above and beyond requirements?
- Shown the ability to switch priorities and move quickly among different tasks?
- Set a challenging goal and achieved it?
- Attended to the important details across multiple tasks while juggling them (that is, you prioritized effectively and didn’t let important things fall through the cracks)?
- Taken an innovative and efficient approach to get something done?
- Interacted with clients and/or senior investment bankers during a live deal?
- Written successful papers, memos, and/or speeches?
- Worked effectively with clients to understand their needs?
- Articulated ideas in a clear and coherent manner?
- Presented in front of classes, teams, and/or organizations?
- Been a member of a sports team, study group, or committee?
- Worked effectively with people/teams in past work experience?
- Inspired others to take action in an unstructured situation?
Technical Aspects of your Resume
Since Pre-MBA private equity associate candidates have limited work experience (most likely only a few years after college), one major differentiator in resumes is how one highlights his or her work experience on his or her resume. Recruiters and employers want to understand what kind of relevant experience you’ve obtained, and why you are qualified to become a private equity associate. Cater your experiences to what you might do as a private equity investment associate. Insert key details about your in-depth research, modeling experience, responsibilities within deal teams, and type of material you presented to your company or clients. Include the details of the transactions you worked on and what kind of results you helped with, in specific detail. Give examples of what you learned and what you accomplished. If you had any special networking experiences or interactions with management, include that as well.
In addition, be very clear and concise regarding the type of experience you have had—product type and/or industry focus in particular. (“Product type” refers to the type of financial instruments you have experience working with during investment banking transactions or other financial services job responsibilities. Main categories include M&A, Debt, Equity, Fixed Income, and Derivatives. “Industry focus” refers to the types of companies/industries that you are familiar with.) Thus, for example, if you are applying to a healthcare private equity position, it will increase your chances of landing an interview if you illustrate that you have prior experience working at a research lab in college or interning at a healthcare-focused consulting group during the academic school year. Obviously, healthcare investment banking is going to be a huge plus for your candidacy at that firm, so be sure to highlight the experience you’ve garnered in that role thoroughly and clearly.
We have provided below some example descriptions that current private equity associates have used on their resume. Note that many of these examples are specific to experience gained in investment banking roles. For applicants coming from a different background, such as management/strategy consulting, try to tailor your description of your experiences to convey your aptitude for the private equity role you are seeking. In other words, strive to make it clear how your experience can be beneficial to you as a private equity associate.
- Performed pro forma merger consequences, public and acquisition comparables, discounted cash flow analysis, and accretion/dilution analysis
- Performed strategic financial alternatives analyses through merger consequences (accretion/dilution), leveraged buyout, discounted cash-flow, sum-of-parts and public trading and acquisition comparables
- Completed quantitative and qualitative analyses across the industrials sector
- Explored optimal capital structure considerations involving equity-linked, high grade and high yield debt products
- Designed comprehensive financial models to evaluate strategic options for clients including leveraged buyouts, mergers and acquisitions, initial public offerings, restructurings, and other financing alternatives
- Performed financial valuation analysis through the use of discounted cash flow, trading comparables, precedent transaction comparables, and leveraged buyout methodologies
- Exposure to multiple product areas, including M&A, Fixed Income and Equity, as well as various industries, including Biotechnology, Medical Technology, Specialty Pharmaceuticals, Healthcare Services and Consumer Products
- Performed in-depth financial and operational due diligence on client companies. Analyzed market trends, competition, and potential strategic partners using information obtained from multiple data sources
- Prepared materials for equity offering and financial advisory presentations, confidential selling memorandums, and internal presentations. Analyzed comparable company and M&A transactions for valuation purposes
- Constructed detailed merger valuation models for both public and private consumer companies
- Received top-tier ranking in first-year analyst class
- Develop financial models for leveraged buyouts, mergers/acquisitions, initial public offerings, purchase price ratio analysis, credit analysis and debt/equity financings
- Conduct financial analysis using discounted cash flow, precedent transactions and comparable companies analyses
- Relevant transaction experience across the retail, consumer, industrial and communications/media sectors
- Maintained comprehensive internal databases of current auction processes and precedent transactions in the market
- Helped lead and coordinate Harvard College undergraduate recruiting for the bank as a recruiting team captain
- Participate in all stages of equity, debt and mergers & acquisitions transactions, including the development of financial models, due diligence sessions, the drafting of committee memos and sales memos, and board presentations
- Authored an internal marketing memorandum, assisted with the development of a roadshow presentation, and participated in the roadshow for a $77 million IPO for a consumer retail company
- Performed an equity valuation by analyzing comparable public companies and building a pro forma financial model for a $500 million IPO pitch in the cloud-computing industry
- Advised Company X on $2.5 billion acquisition of Company Y (Closed December 2010)
- Constructed a financial model assessing the pro forma merger effects and potential returns on invested capital from a proposed acquisition
- Attended client meetings to help determine modeling assumptions and synergy potential
- Conducted detailed due diligence sessions for business, financial, and accounting areas of the target company
- Lead advisor to client for evaluating strategic alternatives in its division
- Interacted directly with client’s corporate development team and actuaries to determine modeling assumptions
- Conducted due diligence sessions detailing business, financial, and accounting considerations across the PBM industry
- Constructed model providing the company pro forma analysis for four potential acquirers with detailed sensitivity tables and charts
- Developed financial model providing pro forma merger analysis after immediate divestiture of a segment of target’s business
- Conducted due diligence on potential litigation liability and its implications on valuation
- Determined appropriate value of target’s pipeline product assets by analyzing possible market opportunities, peak sales scenarios, possible clinical trial outcomes and pro forma revenue and operating synergies
- Lead advisor to Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe evaluating timing of its IPO, size of secondary share offering and other strategic alternatives (including outright sale of the company)
- Developed bid strategy to best accommodate client’s message and needs
- Worked directly with client’s CFO and Treasurer to develop accretion/dilution model, determine value drivers in merger model, and display pro forma impact of acquisitions in board and investor presentations
- Prepared extensive due diligence materials and assisted with drafting of credit approval memos, rating agency presentations, roadshow presentation, fairness opinion, and prospectus supplement
- Prepared due diligence materials, client presentations, and comparison of sponsor and management model assumptions
- Developed recapitalization model and performed in-depth analysis of company’s operating model drivers
- Drafted rating agency presentation, Confidential Information Memorandum, and due diligence organization materials
- Created dynamic stand-alone operating model and company teaser for socialization process with potential buyers
- Performed benchmarking sales force analysis and precedent transactions analysis
- Created a dynamic LBO financial model with various financing scenario optionality and valuation methods
- Arranged lender’s presentations to market key investment highlights and coordinated bank meeting for investors
- Provided marketing and execution advisory services for financial sponsors and company management
- Lead analyst on the largest-ever oilfield services transaction, working directly with the Head of Business Development for the acquiring company
- Delivered fairness opinion to X: Performed discounted cash flows and comparable companies analyses
- Modeled “put” and “call” scenarios where X would sell or purchase the remainder of its joint venture with Partner Y
- Performed ability-to-pay, precedent transactions, future stock price and detailed synergies analyses
- Negotiated a collar purchase mechanism that eliminated downside price risk but allowed the seller to share in some potential upside
- Drafted the Confidential Information Memorandum and management presentation for prospective buyers
- Coordinated due diligence process with management, prepared materials with company CFO, and managed a virtual dataroom
- Designed a fully-integrated 3-statement model to analyze restructuring scenarios including delayed equitization constructs, amend & extend scenarios, various capital raise possibilities, divestitures of select business operations, and potential joint ventures
- Analyzed dynamics of physical media replication and distribution industry and its effects on sell-side opportunities
- Drafted materials for Fairness Opinion including an extensive debt and equity valuation for presentation to X’s Board of Directors and bank’s internal Fairness Committee in advance of potential CBCA Plan of Arrangement
- Created operating model and detailed valuation model for 1) target’s print and digital business components and 2) buyout of minority stake and equity control option in target’s ownership of an online dealer
- Conducted due diligence to adapt model assumptions and validate performance outlook and transaction rationale for a potential acquirer
- Analyzed and recommended two transformative strategic alternatives for a client including partial stake sale in its $25bn+ cable business and ~$4bn LBO of its auction business, both in potential conjunction with a proposed dividend recapitalization
- Modeled various capitalization structures based on lender negotiations to recommend optimal financing alternatives
- Positioned resiliency of radio and growth prospects of outdoor businesses in lender and rating agency presentations
- Articulated the company’s ability to navigate a capital structure with ~8.0x secured leverage, 11.5x total leverage, and $1.8bn of Adjusted EBITDA by crafting detailed client presentations and coordinating a nationwide, 7-day roadshow
Private Equity Resume Template
You might have seen thousands of investment banking resume examples and dozens (or more) of private equity applicant resumes, but only one will work consistently for major players in the Private Equity space. This point cannot be emphasized enough. Private Equity has a strongly conservative cultural and professional heritage, and if you want to work in that field, you should adapt your resume accordingly. Whether you are an investment banking analyst, a management consultant, an employee in industry, or an MBA student, it is critical that your private equity resume matches the expected format. Below is an example of the formatting style you should use—try to match it on your resume as closely as you can.
- Poor Resume Template: Candidate possesses relevant work experience and describes his or her experience well, but the resume is not formatted according to basic, boilerplate formatting guidelines.
- Poor Resume Writing: Candidate follows a proper formatting template but does a poor job of communicating important details effectively, or lacks enthusiasm, or has made grammatical or typographical errors.
Hopefully these tips will help you! We feel that if you follow these guidelines, you will have a Private Equity resume that you will be proud of and will help get you in the door to your new career.
Investment bankers and private equity professionals are known to be able to spot errors in the Wall Street Journal or advertisements in seconds. That is because they are trained to spot any grammatical or formatting error quickly in any document they create—they spend countless hours creating materials for pitch books, and those materials must be error-free! A careless mistake can significantly change the viability of an investment, which can dramatically change estimated IRR calculations. Private equity professionals could spend days or weeks putting together an operating model with IRR returns analyses, and one mistake in the revenue growth can significantly affect the expected returns.
Once you have finished and are sure it is perfect, put it in a drawer for a day or two and then take a fresh look. Then have two or three other people look it over as well. Of course, check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation, but also look carefully for formatting. Be sure that headings are in the same type of font. If you bold print one date, bold print them all. Check for random indentations and auto-corrected errors, especially incorrect capital letters after periods following abbreviations. It seems like such a little thing, but you want to prove you are someone who pays attention to detail. You won’t get a second chance if your resume has careless errors.
Once you have perfected your resume, you are ready to start applying for private equity opportunities. Good luck!←Private Equity Firm Hierarchy and Associate RolePrivate Equity Interview→