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.
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 thatmust stand out from your resumein order for you to be well positioned to receive PE interviews. Ideal PE candidates will have the following characteristics:
Strong quantitative/analytical skills:This is a critical component of a PE resume and fundamental to success. Expect to get tested for analytics in your interview. Have you:
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?
Firms want to know whether you have the initiative, motivation, attention to detail, and energy to deliver strong results. Start tracking and measuring your achievements. When you interview, youll need to discuss your accomplishments in detail. Have you:
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?
Attended to the important details across multiple tasks while juggling them (that is, you prioritized effectively and didnt let important things fall through the cracks)?
Taken an innovative and efficient approach to get something done?
The ability to write and speak well suggests that youll be successful working with clients and colleagues. Have you:
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?
Teaming up with clients and peers is a crucial task. PE professionals work in teams and it will be critical that you can work effectively among teams of all types of professionals, both internally and externally. Have you:
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?
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 youve 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 hadproduct 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 youve 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.
Example investment banking analyst role descriptions on successful resumes include:
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
Examples of effective, detailed transaction experience descriptions include:
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 clients 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 targets business
Conducted due diligence on potential litigation liability and its implications on valuation
Determined appropriate value of targets 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 clients message and needs
Worked directly with clients 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 companys 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 lenders 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 Xs Board of Directors and banks internal Fairness Committee in advance of potential CBCA Plan of Arrangement
Created operating model and detailed valuation model for 1) targets print and digital business components and 2) buyout of minority stake and equity control option in targets 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 companys 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
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 usetry to match it on your resume as closely as you can.
In addition to formatting, keep in mind thatyour resume must absolutely be error-free, as we have discussed. You can also go wrong by providing insufficient explanations of your experience thus farinaccurate descriptions, vague phrasing, too much boilerplate text and not enough substance. In our experience, poor resumes for qualified private equity job candidates will typically fall into one of two categories:
Candidate possesses relevant work experience and describes his or her experience well, but the resume is not formatted according to basic, boilerplate formatting guidelines.
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 createthey 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 wont 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!