Whether or not you’re able to carve out a career as a private-equity investor could boil down to six crucial seconds.
That was one insight shared by James Cherubim, head of talent acquisition for The Carlyle Group, during an exclusive webinar hosted by Business Insider last week in which top private-equity recruiters broke down exactly what it takes to land at firms like Carlyle, Bain Capital, and Apollo.
WATCH: Top talent execs at firms like Carlyle and Apollo reveal how to get hired in private equity. From getting through resume screens to nailing case studies, here’s how to stand out.
“A recruiter, on average, looks at a CV for six seconds before they make a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ decision on your candidacy. That’s not much time at all,” Cherubim said. “Your goal as a candidate is to make sure that you’re doing as much as possible to lengthen that time.”
So, how do you grab and maintain a recruiter’s interest in those brief, fleeting seconds? Cherubim’s advice was simple: It’s all in the numbers.
“If I don’t see numbers on a resume, I usually assume, particularly for quantitative people, that they either aren’t as quantitative as I thought, or they didn’t transform things as much, or they didn’t make an impact as much as possible,” he said,
Careers website Monster.com has some advice for how, exactly, you can do that. One way is straightforward: Show me the money.
According to writer Julia Gaynor, who authored an article on Monster.com about to how to effectively use numbers on your resume, it’s helpful to illustrate your impact in sales and volume, profitability, or even the number of people you managed or the size of the budget you oversaw in your past job.
The bottom line: Numbers can be an illustrative tool to catch a recruiter’s eye.
“When I see numbers, my eyes generally go right to it and I read everything before and after it,” Cherubim said.
‘Do your homework’ and be intentional about your goals
Two other recruiters on the panel — Sara Diniz, a vice president in human resources at Bain Capital, and Matt Breitfelder, the global head of human capital at Apollo Global Management — suggested being clear-eyed about your goals in private-equity.
“I think the most important thing is to set an intention for yourself and to think about what you want to get out of the process, and then to do your homework,” Diniz said.
Bain Capital uses hypothetical cases to probe candidates’ analytical thinking and reasoning skills, and make a determination as to whether they’d be a fit for the organization, she added.
One example she shared — a hypothetical case that an interviewer at Bain might present to a candidate to assess their dealmaking intuition — was about a movie theater.
In her example, the movie theater is facing tough decisions about which movies to run, factoring in data about market size, consumer demand, and ticket pricing to help inform its decisions. A candidate might be asked to solve some problems around profitability, she said, and walk the interviewer through the nuances of their decision-making process.
Read more: The typical cycle is changing for private-equity recruiting. Here are the new trends top hiring execs from firms like Apollo and Carlyle are seeing.
The four panelists shared a variety of other insights about private-equity recruiting, from recent trends in the private-equity recruiting cycle to the kinds of modeling exams to brush up on in advance of an interview.
In regard to the modeling tests, one of the most common is the leveraged buyout model, said Anthony Keizner, co-managing partner at Odyssey Search Partners, a firm that does recruiting work on behalf of private-equity companies. “If people are preparing, those are certain things they can study up on and get a sense of if they haven’t done them at school,” he said.
What’s more, Keizner added, candidates should demonstrate a comfort level in creating a three statement model (which would draw on a company’s income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement). Plus, they should also be familiar with the primary components of corporate accounting, he noted.
But the real differentiator, Keizner pointed out, is more qualitative: “Once you’ve got the basic financial skills, do you have the critical thinking to have a business sense and a business curiosity to go beyond that?” he said.
And, for Breitfelder of Apollo Global Management, “mindfulness” is a critical tool to help candidates zoom in on the kind of career they want to have as investors, he said.
“I would suggest people be mindful about the fact that we’re looking for great investors, he said, “so be mindful about what we’re looking for: craftspeople who want to build a career in investing.
“Don’t apply because everyone else is doing it,” Breitfelder added. “Do it because you want to be a great investor, and put your whole heart and soul into this process with that intention.”
Article by: Reed Alexander