Private Equity Recruiters aka “Headhunters”

Recruiters, or headhunters, play a large part in the private equity job search process. These recruiting firms source top candidates for private equity interviews and are called the “gatekeepers” of the private equity world.

Traditionally recruiters work with top-ranked first year analysts at an investment bank or consulting firm. You will have to decide if the recruiters are calling you with the jobs you want. Not receiving phone calls from headhunters doesn’t mean you are not desirable; it means you may have to reach out to the recruiters yourself or reach out to private equity firms on your own. A few well-known private equity recruiters include Oxbridge Group, Search One and SG Partners.

If you would like additional information regarding the PE job process and a more extensive list of private equity recruiters, you may find the Private Equity Interview Preparation Guide a great tool to help you prepare for the interview process.

You should reach out to headhunters during November – December timeframe during your first year as an analyst and should expect to start interviewing in January – March. Once you have reached out to a PE recruiter or contacted by one, you will be invited into one of their locations. You will be put through a “mini-interview,” which is just as important as the actual interviews with a private equity firm since the recruiters are the so-called gatekeepers to a private equity career. Most of these recruiter interviews consist of behavioral questions such as

–           Walk me through your resume and past deal experience.

–          Why do you want to work at a private equity firm?

–          What type of private equity investing are you interested in?

–          Any particular firms you are interested in? Size of fund?

–          Do you have excellent financial modeling skills? M&A skills?

–          What type of investment banking transactions or consulting projects have you worked on?

–          In terms of geography, what are your three top locations (cities) in the US you would be willing to relocate to?

Make sure not to give any attitude or act “cocky.” They have met candidates like you year after year and have no patience for an overconfident first-year analyst. You are one of many candidates that recruiting firms work with; you need to feel confident about being a strong candidate. Displaying an attitude that shows “you will make money off of me” is not a good way to get the attention you want. If you pass this initial step, your resume will be submitted for various private equity positions and you will most likely have an interview in the next 10 to 20 days. Don’t forget that before reaching out to these recruiters, you must be preparing for the actual important private equity interview as you could be placed in an interview in a shorter period of time. There are no second chances out there, so make sure you are well prepared.