Photo: 3n on flickr
It’s not a big secret that starting investment banking analysts work their tails off their first two years. Usually, they’re motivated by the pay and the fact that a bigger payoff—a job in private equity or a hedge fund—is imminent after two years of being chained to a desk.Business Insider reached out to a first year analyst at a top investment bank who had received a job offer at a hedge fund through headhunters. He shared with us some of his tips and secrets to how to successfully secure such a cool gig so early on.
The first year analyst wanted to remain anonymous. So for the sake of clarity, let’s refer to him as Ted.
At Clusterstock, we’ve spoken to several headhunters about what they look for in a candidate, and how they go about recruiting for financial firms.
Now, take peek into the other side of the process.
Don't ignore headhunters, they're the gatekeepers and the best way for you to get access to top firms.
The biggest mistake most analysts make is ignoring headhunters when they're contacted, Ted told Business Insider.
Analysts tend to think headhunters don't hold any real power, but in reality they're the gatekeepers to the firms you want to work at--one headhunter Ted met had access to the top 10 firms in the private equity industry.
He said he knew fellow analysts 'that were more qualified that were pissed because they weren't getting offers because they weren't taking advantage of the headhunters.'
It's important to keep in mind that headhunters have their own reputations at stake when they put a candidate in front of a firm for a job interview. If you don't impress the headhunter, he/she won't bother suggesting you for an interview with a firm because it would make him/her look bad.
A face-to-face meeting with the headhunter should take no less than 30 minutes and will be very standard, behavioural questions. Practice and make sure your answers to questions like 'Why are you interested in private equity or hedge funds?' 'Tell me about your experiences' 'Why are you interested in finance?' are polished.
Ted also recommends focusing on the big picture when talking about your experiences, but also pick one or two technical skills to elaborate on.
'The goal was to get the headhunter to like you. So at the end of the day they would think 'That guy was pretty sweet,'' he said. 'I literally treated them like dates.'
Ted said he made agreements with other analysts in his year who had also been in contact with headhunters to trade names and contacts. They would share the names of headhunters that had contacted them, and if a new name came up--would share the headhunter's contact information.
This benefited both Ted--as he would be able to make a new headhunter contact--and the other analyst, who would get on the headhunter's good side by providing him/her with new possible candidates.
Once you score an interview with a firm via the headhunter, be sure to let the other headhunters you're in touch with know.
Send them a quick email, tell them you have an interview with a firm and just want to check if they have any possible interviews in the pipeline. The key point here is that 'as soon as one person thinks you're worth it and another person knows you're worth it, then everyone thinks you're worth it,' Ted said.
Three days after Ted got his first interview request, he had received 6 more through that method.
Sometimes, you may find yourself with interview offers from firms that you're not interested in nor passionate about.
It's OK to turn down the interview, but do it humbly and be honest about why--don't get on the headhunter's bad list.
If you want to get another job in five years time or another amazing prospect comes up, the same headhunter may come calling.
If an interview with a firm goes well, tell the headhunter—they'll pass it on the firm who will understand that you're serious about working there.
Remember that firms won't extend an offer to you unless they are relatively certain you're going to say yes.
While it is challenging to tell a firm you want to work for them outright, this is something you can relay to the headhunter who arranged the interview. They're definitely keeping in touch with people on the inside at the firm.
Headhunters will begin contacting potential candidates whenever they feel like it. Ted said he was meeting with headhunters from November to February of this year.
But remember that most firms won't start interviewing for open positions until March. Don't expect interview offers from headhunters right after meeting them if its December.