As someone who started in an investing role out of college, I consistently get inbound from people looking to break into the field from investment banking, consulting or industry. I put this post together in the hopes that it can provide some additional perspective on how one can differentiate when trying to do so, thus increasing your chances. What makes me qualified to speak on this topic? About a year ago, I sent out a thoughtful Linkedin message and it led to interviews, case studies and eventually an offer at my top choice firm.
1) Be focused — make a list of your top choices that isn’t too broad or too narrow. A spray and pray approach with this will not work. You have to understand and be able to articulate what you bring to the table and why this is the right fit for you. In a hyper-competitive market, it is even more important to have this piece figured out. It’s tough to keep being overly broad/generalist when applying for investing roles, since you are effectively joining a strategy (VC, growth, buyout) and often a specific style of investing (majority, M&A focused, minority growth, founder centric etc.). Ask yourself what you want to learn and what you are good at as you decide which firms/strategies could be a fit. If you find yourself being too narrow/picky, try to expand the aperture in other ways (different geographies if firm is open to commuting, or a newer fund vs an already established brand name).
2) Be early — More and more, firms are hiring opportunistically in addition to the big scheduled pushes. Most people will start reaching out right before the scheduled recruiting pushes. It’s hard to organically form a relationship with people when everyone is operating around a timeline/they know you are only reaching out since recruiting is coming up. Try to create opportunities for genuine interactions/connections by reaching out well in advance of a hiring conversation.
3) Be thoughtful — You only have one chance to make a good first impression. Investors get way too many spam emails as is, please try to be thoughtful with the outreach. Rather than asking more senior individuals to share their experience at xyz firm, try to start with the more junior team members that can actually speak to what the job will be like. Then, use that as fodder for outreach to a more senior investing professional. This will increase the chances of a meaningful conversation and help you come across as prepared and thoughtful. If you are able to get through to someone more senior in the organization, look them up and understand their portfolio or relevant spaces where they are spending time. I have found that doing that extra 30 minutes or so of research dramatically increases the chance that you have a good interaction.
4) Don’t oversell — try to drop in tidbits from your background, but don’t oversell. This is just an introductory get to know each other conversation. Remember that you are more than your resume.
5) The follow-up — take notes on any next steps/follow-ups you can use to ping your contact over the next few months. Staying in touch and not losing momentum is important. You also don’t want to waste the person’s time so the more actionable follow-ups you can uncover the better. Few examples of this could be: sending interesting articles, introductions to CEOs/founders or asking to speak with any other connections of theirs if appropriate/relevant.
Hope these help! The sooner you can view this as a longer-term effort (~4-6 months) the more you can go into it with the right level of expectations and maximize your chances of success. Let’s get after it!
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