NOTE: While this article is still relevant and has great information, if you’re interested in private equity resumes you should review the following template and video tutorial to see exactly how to write one:
“I really enjoy it,” he says, folding his arms and lying back in his chair with a contented grin. “I’m in [private equity] because I like to be excellent and to win.”
If you want to be like Steve here and become King Of Wall Street, your first step will be tailoring your resume to get those private equity interviews and break into the industry.
But if you want to be King, you have to think about your resume once again.
And with private equity recruiting season having just started, I figured a discussion of private equity resumes would be a good way to start the week.
In many ways tailoring your resume for buyside jobs is similar to crafting the perfect investment banking resume.
But it’s different in one critical aspect: you have to focus entirely on your investment banking experience rather than trying to be inclusive of everything else you’ve done.
Private Equity Resume Structure
About half your resume should be comprised of your current investment banking job. Minimize your pre-banking experience. Yes, they will cover this during interviews, but the purpose of a resume is to get your foot in the door.
Education should be at the bottom of your resume now (unlike with investment banking analyst resumes), and the top of your resume should start with your contact information and then immediately jump into your Work Experience, starting with your investment banking job.
Writing About Your Investment Banking Job
Start this section with one or two brief sentences about your overall responsibilities and the types of deals you’ve worked on thus far. You could also include information on any special projects that were not deal-related but nevertheless contributed to the firm in some way.
There should be three key pieces of information you relay in this introductory sentence:
- Number of deals worked on
- Types of deals worked on – M&A (sellside and buyside), IPOs, Follow-Ons, Convertibles, Debt
- Skills gained – LBO modeling, accretion/dilution modeling, DCF skills, valuation
Once you’ve picked this as your summary, you need to decide on deals to write about and then go into detail on your transaction experience – this is the heart of your private equity resume.
Choosing Your Deals
A VP-level banker once told me that “it would be difficult to get a private equity job without closed deals on your resume.”
Nothing could be farther from the truth. When private equity firms recruit in between the middle of your first year and beginning of your second year, they don’t expect that everyone will have closed deals by then. Some analysts never even close deals at all!
When picking deals to write about, what you personally contributed to the deal is more important than the size or “prestige” of the deal. Yes, it’s nice to have $50 billion M&A deals under your name, but if all you did was a simple valuation or basic research for the other team members, don’t make it a focal point of your resume.
Always lean toward picking the deals where you learned the most and were the most unusual vs. choosing larger deals that were pretty standard and didn’t give you much unique experience.
For private equity jobs, also try to write about M&A deals rather than capital markets transactions – what you do on a daily basis is much closer to M&A than anything else. Debt might be ok to write about as well, but avoid IPOs and Fairness Opinions (FOs) if at all possible.
Writing About Your Deals
Let’s start with how you should not write about a deal:
How NOT To Write About A Deal
- $5B Sale Of Company Y To Company X
- Drafted Offering Memorandum and Management Presentation and tracked status of deal with potential buyers
- Managed due diligence process between Company Y and different buyers and responded to all inquiries
The two items listed here would be expected of any investment banking analyst working on a sellside M&A deal. That’s what you as an Investment Banking Analyst do – you write the sales documents, maintain buyer logs, and send documents to interested parties.
There’s nothing here that makes me think, “This deal looks like a great experience!” And it commits the cardinal sin of not being results-oriented and specific.
The Right Way To Write About A Deal
You need to focus on what was unique about the deal. Did you influence the negotiation process somehow? Did an analysis you created result in a lower/higher price or get new buyers interested? Did you analyze the market in a way that led to more interest or a better price?
If you can’t think of anything unique to write about, pick a different deal. Sometimes it just isn’t possible, and there are many generic deals that are not good material to talk or write about.
Here’s how I would re-write the example above:
- $5B Sale Of Company Y To Company X
- Worked directly with CFO to build complex operating model of company involving 40 different properties across multiple states
- Created market analysis showing favorable trends in casino construction despite subprime-related problems; led to 2 private equity buyers remaining in the auction process until the final round
It is still the same length as the previous attempt, but this one is about 500 times better. It shows what you did that was specific to the deal, and what the results of your work were. And it skips the generic points that are part of any sell-side M&A process.
Writing About Unannounced Or Dead Deals
This is fine. Just don’t mention any names or anything that could be tied directly to the specific deal. You’ll more than likely have to do this anyway when applying for private equity jobs.
Sometimes this can be tricky if it’s a very large or well-known deal that everyone has speculated on but has not been announced yet (e.g. Yahoo / Microsoft before the bid became official). In these cases, avoid mentioning specific numbers or dollar amounts and instead use percentages to make sure you’re not disclosing anything confidential.
Successfully tailoring your resume for private equity jobs is similar to creating a successful investment banking resume. Be specific, quantify, and focus on results. Focus on deals, whether announced or unannounced, and what you contributed that was unique to each deal.
And for even more details and the actual Word document template, see the article and video tutorial below: