The best strategy to find a job in private equity is often to reach to those firms directly, especially if you feel that there would be a good fit between your background and the firm. In addition, headhunters are very selective when sharing job opportunities in private equity so you might miss out on a potential interview. Sending "cold emails" is widely accepted in the private equity industry, and if the email is properly crafted, you should be getting an answer in most cases. So here are a few strategy tips for cold emails to private equity professionals
Make a list of your priority target firms that make most sense
> Make a big spreadsheets with the list of all PE firms you think might be relevant and that come to your mind or that you've come accross
> Narrow down to a set of priority firms (say 7-10 firms max) that you think would be the best fit and most relevant to your background. Sending proper cold emails is actually quite time consuming, this is why we recommend to focus as much as possible initially.
Identify the best contact person(s)
> Seniority: we would recommend to not go to a too junior person or same level as you would be (they are the busiest, there might be a fear of competitor coming in, lack of incentive for them to help) or too senior (most of them won't care or have time). The ideal people are "principal", "director" or "vice-president" levels, because they are senior enough to have a say in the recruting process but still junior enough to take time answering candidate emails.
> Common background: check out the websites of the firms and go through the bios of the people working there to get an idea of their backgrounds. From the background descriptions, try to find the persons that is the most similar to you: people who worked at same firms, same country of origin, same school, same kind of work experience or educational background, etc.
> Linkedin: Linkedin is very powerful to indentify potential contacts, find more about people's backgrounds and potentially common friends. Always so a search on Linkedin for your target firm as you might also find people that are not on the website.
> HR? Some firms have HR departments. However, I would actually advise against sending your CV directly to HR if you find some other suitable contact in the firm, as HR's candidate criterias are usually narrower compared to investment professionals, which means less chances to get an interview.
Structuring the email
Never write a cold email that is more than one or 2 paragraph long. If it is longer, most people won't take the time to read it, and it also shows that you are not able to write concisely. Best is to be straight to the point and attached a CV. We recommend the following structure:
> First sentence: your background (basic key relevant points) + optionally how you got their details if its an introduction from a friend.
Example: "Hello Mark, I am an second year analyst working at Morgan Stanley in the Consumer team here in London, and I'm from Germany (I also speak Spanish)."
> Second sentence: purpose of the email + asking to discuss + CV
Example: "I'm very interested in Private Equity and in particular about your firm, and I was wondering if your firm had any expansion plan in the short or medium term? I would be happy to have a quick chat at your convenience. I'm attaching my CV for reference. Best regards, ". Other reasons: "I read that your firm just raised a fund / just opened an office in Munich", etc.
What happens next?
Usually the person will open the CV and take a 5 second look to see if your profile would fit.
If it doesn't fit, they might say that they are not hiring, or simply say that you dont have the required profile.You might also get a standard "reject" email.
If it fits, they might reply that they are not hiring if they are indeed not hiring, and keep your CV on file. They might also accept to do a quick phone chat to do some informal pre screen, or they might even ask you to come in for an interview!
What if I get ignored?
There might be a bunch of reasons why you get ignored, and its not always negative - people travel, miss emails, forget to reply, etc. If you dont get a reply within a week, its perfectly find to send a reminder email: "Hi Mark, I wanted to follow up on my previous email, happy to have a chat whenever convenient. Thanks". One reminder email is enough and we would not advise to go beyond that. If you still don't hear back, try another person or two in the firm! You have nothing to lose by trying, but we would advise against trying more than 3 people in the firm.
Track your progress, persevere, and be consistent!
Do maintain your spreadsheet and make a note of each rejection, each email sent and person contacted so that you always know where you are in your attempts - Private Equity recruiting is a long term game:
> If they said no - don't waste your time and move on to other firms in your list
> If they said that they are not hiring now, try again in 6 months time, or whenever they do a fundraising (fundraising usually means expanding the team!)
> If you need to contact the firm again, contact the same person
> Once you have been through a few firms within your priority list, start investigating firms outside your top priority
> As you read the press, work on deals, talk to friends, etc. dont forget to add to your list any interesting PE firm name you come across.