by Brian DeChesare Comments (3)

The Private Equity Resume: How to Write Your Way into Interviews and Job Offers at the Mega-Funds

Private Equity Resume

If you’re a long-term reader of this site, you probably never thought that we’d return to the topic of private equity resumes.

After all, how much could resumes possibly change over time?

Yes, LinkedIn has become ubiquitous, but it’s not as if new technologies have “disrupted” the way you write a resume for finance jobs.

But the PE recruiting process itself has changed, and that has affected resumes and deal discussions.

Specifically, the on-cycle process now starts ridiculously early and seems to start earlier each year.

That means that you’ll often have to spin pitches and non-deals into sounding like deals and that you may need to use your internship experience in some cases.

And you may even run into some of these same issues in the off-cycle hiring process.

Here are the ground rules, templates, and examples:

Private Equity Resume Templates – from Investment Banking and Consulting

I don’t want to bury the lede, so here are the templates:

And the video tutorial:

These are a bit different from previous templates shared on this site because I added more specific details for each entry.

You should replace everything in [] with language to describe your experience, but you can get ideas from the sample bullets here.

Let’s start with the basics for anyone with full-time work experience applying to private equity roles at the Associate level:

  • 1 Page Only with 3 Main Sections – Work or Professional Experience on top, then Education, and then “Additional Information” or “Skills & Interests.”
  • Work Experience Should Be Most of Your Resume – Your current role should take up at least 50% of the space of your resume, with a previous internship taking up most of the space after that. If you have to write about deals/clients from your internship(s), or you combine the internship and your full-time role, this ratio will change, but ~80% of the total space on your resume should still be devoted to Work Experience.
  • Font Face, Font Size, and Margins – The margins should be around 0.75”, or 1.91 cm, on each side. The font size can be anywhere from 10 to 12 as long as you keep it consistent; section headers and your name and information at the top can be bigger. It’s often better to use a slightly bigger font to limit your descriptions and focus on the key points. Font faces such as Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, or Georgia all work.
  • Summary Bullet, Then Deals/Clients/Engagements – You can summarize the deals you’ve worked on, how well you’ve performed (if applicable), and the daily tasks you complete. Then, write “Selected Transaction Experience” or “Selected Engagement Experience” or “Selected Client Experience” in another bullet and list the deals/clients as sub-bullets. Aim for 2-3 deals or clients to list here.

These points apply to everyone, so let’s go to the investment banking-specific tips next:

The Ideal Private Equity Resume Template for On-Cycle Recruiting at Bulge Bracket and Elite Boutique Banks

If you’re at a bulge bracket bank (or some elite boutiques), PE headhunters will contact you based solely on your bank and group.

Your resume makes no difference to your participation in the recruiting process.

Yes, you will submit a resume, which will include your undergraduate university, grades, and other experiences, hobbies, and interests, but discussions with headhunters will determine your fate.

Therefore, writing your resume matters not because of the written document, but because it forces you to pick deals to discuss and plan your discussions.

“Deal experience” will always come up in private equity interviews – even if you started working a week ago and have 0 closed deals, 0 announced deals, and 0 “pending” deals.

Of course, it always looks better to write about closed or announced deals if you have them.

But the process starts so early that you are unlikely to have any substantial deals from your current job.

Therefore, you will need to spin quite heavily to come up with 2-3 deals.

It looks a bit odd to list only one deal, and if you list 4, 5, or 10 deals, it will be difficult to remember all the details – which makes 2-3 the sweet spot.

How to Find or Fabricate Spin Deals into Existence

To find or create deals, go down this list:

  1. Closed or announced deals (Best, but unlikely) – M&A, LBO, and Restructuring deals are best, followed by Debt, followed by equity offerings and private placements.
  2. Canceled or active-but-not-announced deals – The order is the same as above; favor M&A, LBO, and Restructuring deals.
  3. “Client service” engagements – These often turn into extended projects where you research spin-offs, add-on acquisitions, etc. In other words, “Potential Sell-Side M&A Deals” and “Potential Buy-Side M&A Deals.”
  4. Pitches for “potential deals” – You will probably have to use this strategy to some extent. It’s not the end of the world because you do at least some valuation/modeling work in pitch books.
  5. Deals from your previous internship(s) – This one is the “last resort” strategy. If you decide to do this, and you interned at the bank and then accepted a full-time offer there, you should combine the internship and full-time experience into one bullet.

If nothing in the list above works, then you’ll probably have to wait another year, gain deal experience, and recruit in next year’s cycle.

If you somehow have the opposite problem – too many deals – then prioritize by size and your involvement.

A $1 billion deal is more impressive than a $100 million one, and a deal where you made a specific impact – even in a small way, such as pointing out incorrect assumptions in a model – is better than one where you did not.

Deal Experience: What to Write About

Once you’ve picked the 2-3 deals or quasi-deals you want to write about, take a step back before writing a word.

First, go and review the deliverables for each deal – presentations, models, emails, buyer/seller logs, and the results of any announced or closed deals (see: the investment banking deal sheet).

You should note the following points for each deal you list:

  • Transaction Rationale: Why did the buyer/seller want to do the deal, or why did the company want to raise capital or restructure? You should have a rough idea of the client’s financial metrics, but you don’t need to memorize 5,172 numbers; just know the 3-4 key ones, such as revenue, EBITDA, revenue growth, and Enterprise Value.
  • Key Challenges / Negotiating Points: What were the biggest stumbling blocks? Price? Treatment of an existing division or asset? Financing for the deal? Investor concerns over the company’s market or competitors?
  • Your Key Contributions: How did you move the deal forward? Did you think of new buyers or sellers? Did you find an error in the company’s financials? Did you find information that addressed a concern from one of the top buyers? It doesn’t need to be something massive; incremental contributions are better than nothing at all.
  • Your Opinion of the Deal in Hindsight: If you had been the buyer, would you have done this deal? If you had been the seller, would you have accepted it? Would you have invested in the company’s debt or equity issuance? Why or why not?

You will reference parts of #1, 2, and 3 on your resume, but you will not write anything about point #4 – save your opinions of deals for live discussions in interviews.

In terms of the mechanics of writing about each deal:

  • Italicize each deal’s name, with the deal type and approximate amount in dollars/euros/GBP/other currency in the beginning.
  • Use anonymous descriptions, such as “$1 Billion Biotech Company,” unless the deal has been announced or closed.
  • Round the numbers! Don’t list a purchase price of $542.3 million, especially if the deal is unannounced, ongoing, or more of a pitch – round it up to $550 million so you can answer mental math questions about it more easily.
  • Use lingo and buzzwords – EBITDA, EV / EBITDA, Enterprise Value, DCF, LBO, IPO, Chapter 11, MOIC, IRR, etc. This one helps not only with humans but also with the automated programs that are increasingly scanning resumes for keywords.
  • Use 2-3 bullets for each deal. Each bullet should have a different task or element of the project, followed by a semicolon, and then how your contributions there impacted the deal.

You can see everything above executed in our sample template below:

One final tip: be very careful about spinning your “results” or “contributions” too far.

If you write that your work resulted in a 10% lower or higher price, for example, interviewers could easily call you out and ask for an explanation.

It’s highly unusual for an Analyst to affect a deal that much, so you better have a great explanation for it.

If your explanation is less than convincing, then it’s much better to point to modest contributions, such as mistakes or problems you found in the company’s financials.

You can see that on the template above – this person is not claiming any crazy results for their work.

Instead, they’re just writing that it was used in certain ways or shown to key individuals in the deal.

The Rest of Your Resume

Yes, you still need to include your university, grades/academic results, and test scores (SAT in the U.S., A-Levels in the U.K., or whatever your country uses).

You should keep the last two sections short and devote no more than 3 lines to Education – university name and location; major and graduation date; and grades and test scores.

The last section should also be short, but it’s still worthwhile to list proficiencies in human languages and programming languages and your interests – some interviewers like to discuss those, especially if you list something unusual.

The Ideal Private Equity Resume for Off-Cycle Recruiting from Smaller Banks, Other Buy-Side Roles, Consulting Firms, etc.

If you’re attempting to win a PE Associate role from a smaller investment bank via the off-cycle recruiting process, everything above still applies.

The main difference is that you should, in theory, have more deal experience, so you can list “real deals” rather than pitches or aborted deals.

But the format and structure of your resume will be nearly the same.

If you’re trying to make another move, such as consulting to private equity or direct lending, mezzanine, or corporate development to private equity, your resume depends on whether or not you’ve worked on “real deals.”

In fields like direct lending, mezzanine, and corporate development, the answer is “yes,” so everything above still applies.

Many commercial real estate roles also fall in this category, as do Big 4 valuation / advisory roles.

Consulting is the tricky one here. You can get our template for it below:

Yes, you can break into PE from consulting, especially if you’re at MBB, but it’s still much tougher than doing so from investment banking.

How to Spin Your Consulting Experience into Sounding Like Deals

The strategy here is “Focus on the specific client engagements or projects that are directly relevant to private equity or can be spun into having something to do with finance.”

For example:

  • Projects to improve operational efficiency by cutting costs – and spin them by highlighting the financial metrics that improved or were projected to improve.
  • Market analysis and market sizing exercises as part of due diligence for clients completing deals – and point to the impact on those deals.
  • M&A integration projects where you had to advise clients on how to combine acquired companies and meet the time and budget requirements.
  • Expansion projects where you looked at new markets and advised clients on whether or not they should enter, and if so, how to do it.

If you have nothing like that, then the best approach is to take your operational projects and spin them to discuss the financial impact on the company and investors.

For example, if you revamped one company’s HR or recruitment strategy, how much money did that save the company? And how much did that improve their EBITDA margins, ROIC, ROE, and so on? Did the company’s stock price improve afterward?

Yes, you will have to be proactive, learn enough to calculate these metrics, and look up the required information.

What About Other Fields to Private Equity?

If you’re not in one of the fields above – consulting or something related to large transactions – then you don’t have a good shot of getting into private equity.

For more on this one, take a look at our “how to get into private equity” guide.

Private Equity Resumes for Undergrads and Recent Grads

If you’re applying to private equity internship or private equity analyst roles as an undergrad or recent grad, you should use our standard investment banking resume template.

You’re not going to have significant deal experience at this level, so pick the right internships or student clubs and then use the task-centric or project-centric structure.

Resumes for Experienced Private Equity Professionals

As you gain more experience in the industry, you should reduce the amount of space devoted to your non-PE experience until it disappears eventually.

Once you’ve been in the industry for over 4-5 years, you’ll probably have to include a separate list of Transactions, which will make your entire resume 2 pages rather than 1.

There’s an example in the “More Experienced” Investment Banking Resume article.

The Private Equity Resume: Anything Else?

That’s about it for now.

You have two examples of PE resumes, one for an IB or “deals” background, and one for a consulting background, as well as all the tips above and the video tutorial.

If you have any more questions, ask away below.

M&I - Brian

About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys memorizing obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, traveling like a drug dealer, and defeating Sauron.

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  1. Super helpful. You talked about how conversations with headhunters generally determine your fate if you’re at a BB/EB. Any chance you’ve done a piece on that process or could offer guidance?

    1. Thanks. Please see: https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/private-equity-recruitment/

      The only thing you can really do to help yourself with headhunters is to be very specific about what you want (Fund Type, Size, Strategy, Location, Industry, etc.). You can’t do much about your university, grades, or bank name and group this point.

      1. Appreciate it!

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