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Private equity firms are controlling entities that collect or pool together capital that is then invested in a specific interest or opportunity. The goal is to improve or maximize that particular investment before re-selling it for a profit. Often private equity firms will use strategies such as venture capital to buy a company or business. As a result of this business model, careers in private equity are very lucrative. However, due to requirements and serious competition, securing a job at a private equity firm is somewhat difficult. This means knowledge, experience, and perseverance are essential to getting a job in private equity.

You need to be able to pass the background checks conducted by potential employers. Background checks are near universal today, and without passing one, you wont be hired, regardless of your education or experience.

Federal government regulations prohibit private equity firms from hiring people with a record of theft, embezzlement or similar crimes.

Many firms will be hesitant to hire you if youve declared bankruptcy recently or have substantial debt.

A college education is one of the most important prerequisites youll need to work in private equity. Educational requirements, though, will vary depending on position and company.

A bachelors degree in finance, accounting, or a related field often serves as the minimum educational requirement.

A masters degree in business administration or another related field is increasingly becoming the minimum standard.

An advanced degree, like a doctorate in economics, will make you an extremely attractive candidate for a job in private equity.

Enroll in an executive education or certificate program in investment or a related field. Consider other less conventional educational opportunities, like Columbia Universitys Deal Camp.

Gain experience in a related or relevant industry.

If youre working with the goal of getting into private equity, consider starting by securing employment in a related or relevant industry. This is important, as the experience gained in certain industries will be critical to your success in private equity. Youll need to achieve a management position or higher in these roles to go on to work in private equity. Such experience includes:

Start your search by learning what you can about several different firms. Depending on your region, there are a wide array of equity firms that you should look into.

Some of the largest, and most prestigious, firms are located in large cities and commercial centers like New York, London, and Tokyo.

Decide if you want to work for a top-tier firm or if youre willing to accept a position at a second- or third-tier firm that may have limited capital to invest or specializes in a particular industry, geographic area, or business stage.

Look into the specialties of different private equity firms.

Different private equity firms focus on different activities in high finance. Based on your interests or talents, you may want to work with a specific type of firm.

Leveraged buyout firms. Leveraged buyout firms try to acquire controlling positions in profitable companies that generate a lot of cash flow. By working in a leveraged buyout firm, youll work to acquire mature and limited-risk companies. One such firm is Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co, which purchased First Data Corp in 2007 in one of the largest private equity technology deals.

Venture capital firms. Venture capital firms finance new companies in high-growth industries (like technology) that are believed to have the potential for long-term growth. The risk is high, but the firm gets to weigh in on company decisions. By working in a venture capital firm, youll be on the cutting edge of industry.

Growth equity firms. These firms take sizable (but not controlling) positions in large and stable companies that are looking to expand their business or restructure, such as a company looking to enter a new market. They invest in more industries than venture capital firms (which focus on high-growth industries) but usually do not fund start-ups. A growth equity firm is somewhere between leveraged buyout and venture capital firms.

Network with executives and others who work in private equity.

Social networking is an increasingly important part of most all business. By networking, youll meet people in the industry who may potentially provide you with knowledge or connections when it comes time to find a job.

Attend conferences. Attend meetings put on by the Private Equity Growth Capital Council, which is an advocacy group organized by a consortium of equity firms.

Join associations. There are a variety of associations, depending on your specialty and region that you could join and network through.

Attend functions, parties, or other gatherings. Once youve made a few contacts in private equity, they may invite you to more private functions or parties where you can meet other people.

Reach out to contacts from college, including professors and peers, as well as your schools employment services.

Building on other aspects of networking, use social media to tie together your connections and to make new connections.

Contact a headhunter or executive placement firm.

Placement firms are becoming extremely important and popular in our global marketplace. As a result, you should consider listing yourself with a placement firm. The placement firm will collect all of your application materials, and then send those application materials to employers who have jobs that you are qualified for.

Search the internet well, as there are numerous executive placement firms with different areas of focus.

List yourself with several placement firms. This will increase the chances of you getting an interview.

Placement firms almost always are compensated by the hiring firm. This compensation is usually a percentage (often 10% to 30%) of your first years salary. Compensation does not come out of your pay.

Create a resume with focus on private equity.

Having a good resume is critical in getting a job with a private equity firm. Your resume will allow potential employers to see all of your relevant experience.

Always place your most relevant work experience at the top of your resume, such as your experience as an investment banker or private equity intern. Minimize your pre-banking or non-related private equity experience as much as possible.

Provide explicit detail about mergers and acquisitions, restructuring deals, and leveraged finance if you have investment banking experience. If you have experience as a consultant, focus on writing about your finance-related projects and clients.

Include your education at the bottom of your resume when trying to land a job at a private equity firm.

After your resume, you need to create a letter of inquiry. Your letter of inquiry is a short introduction to you and your experience and shows your interest in employment with a particular company. Ultimately, the letter of inquiry will give your potential employers a better idea of your personality and capabilities.

Start by introducing yourself and stating where you heard about the company or the job posting. If a current employee or someone else recommended you contact the company, you should state that. You should have a letterhead that includes your name, so you may want to identify yourself by your skills.

In one to three sentences, you should list your education and relevant experience.

In a couple of sentences, you should discuss any thing that makes you an outstanding or unique potential employee. For example, if youre a former lobbyist and have a lot of contacts in government, you should say so.

Wrap up the letter by stating what you can do for the private equity firm. Try to distinguish yourself and show vision and ambition.

End the letter by thanking them for their time and letting them know that you would love to talk further.

Sign the letter, instead of using a digital signature.

Tailor each letter to a specific job or company. Make sure to address important job related requirements and/or how you will fit into the company culture.

After youve got your application materials together (resume, cover letter, and other forms), you need to submit them to the firm or firms youre applying to. This is important, and you need to put care into the submission process.

Proofread your materials before putting them into your packet. Ask a friend to look at them as well. If you know someone in the industry, have them take a look at your materials. You might get ideas for last minute changes.

Follow any and all instructions the firms might have. If they have a website submission, submit it there. If they have a human resources person who is in charge of taking new hire paperwork, contact that person.

If you have any questions about the submission process, contact the firm.

After youve received an invitation to an interview, you need to prepare for it. While your credentials and experience might be impressive, ultimately it is the interview that will seal the deal for you. If youre a likeable person who seems ambitious and energetic, you should have good luck on the job market.

Familiarize yourself with potential interview questions and scenarios commonly asked by private equity firms. Ask your friends and contacts about their prior interview experiences or research using the Internet as a resource.

Prepare to be asked about or tested on the modeling of leveraged buyout analysis, private equity case studies and previous deals you have worked on as an investment banker.

Be prepared to ask a few questions about the firm or about the job you may take. Asking questions shows that youre a thoughtful person who is seriously considering the position. Consider asking a question about the firms specializing or their position in the market. This might be an especially good question if their position or specialization is changing.

Make sure your clothes are prepped for the interview well in advance.

Spend some time on personal hygiene and grooming.

Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered.

Larger private equity firms will focus on asking more technical questions regarding processes, whereas smaller private equity firms are more interested in learning about your reasons and motivation for entering the private equity industry.

Become involved in activities that will get you noticed by people in the private equity firm industry. For example, become assigned to your banks financial sponsor team if you are an investment banker. This will help you expand your network of contacts.

Begin networking in school and getting to know your classmates. Referrals and contacts may prove useful in the future.

This article was co-authored by our trained team of editors and researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness. Together, they cited information from11 references.

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