How to write a CV for Private Equity
Welcome to our guide on writing a CV writing for Private Equity careers
Private Equity is a prestigious and rewarding career path, but also highly competitive. To succeed in this sought after sector of finance, your CV needs to make a good impression from the very first glance. Your relevant skills and strengths need to stand out. Many opportunities in Private Equity illicit hundreds of applications and the initial review can be quite brief by necessity. If you bury your relevant skills and experience deep in the CV, there’s a chance they will be missed. Whether it’s an agency or internal recruiter reviewing your application, or the line manager themselves, they are going to be looking for the ‘headlines’. Make sure they are easy to find.
How you structure your CV for private equity will largely depend on the type of skills required for the role. Hard and soft skills refer to technical and personal skills respectively. Different roles will require a different mix of these. Then there are metrics. Tangible, measurable results. For some roles, results is all that really matters, how they were achieved is very much secondary. In this article, some of our expert consultants will give their insights into how to structure your CV for different types of roles. However, there are some basics that should always be followed…
Whilst different areas require different approaches to CV construction, there are a few hard a and fast rules to follow.
The length of your CV for private equity is not as important as the quality of its contents. Despite the commonly held belief, there is absolutely no need to condense everything into one page. Brevity and clarity are key, but not at the expense of important information. Utilise negative space to help key information stand out.
Don’t leave off key information! Missing details immediately draw attention (otherwise known as the ‘Streisand effect’). By leaving off grades or having gaps in your experience, you invite the reviewer to assume the worst. It will absolutely come up in conversation, so at the very least you’ve wasted valuable interview minutes on it. This extends to only including the years when listing dates; 2019 – 2020 could be anything from a few weeks to almost 2 years. Be precise, account for all your time, include the details around your academics.
Finally, always check and double check your CV for errors, omissions or inaccuracies before sending it off. This applies to any role in any industry.
CVs for Accounting & Operations
If you are applying for a position in the accounting or operations departments of a private equity firm, your CV needs a punchy opening, so a short profile section that encapsulates your best bits is important. Keep it short, only three to four lines long, and include pertinent information such as your qualifications, level of experience and key skills. Try to avoid generic words such as ‘trustworthy’ or ‘ambitious’ as they would be expected of all candidates anyway.
In accounting and operations roles in private equity, academic record is important. If you are still in the early stages of your accounting career, your academic results need to be positioned higher in your CV as they will be one of your main selling points. If you have a decent amount of work experience behind you, your academic results – while now probably sitting further down in your CV, below your work experience – should still be complete without any missing information. Include your A-Level and degree grades, as well as the year you were formally admitted to your respective qualification board and whether you achieved first time passes, if you are a qualified accountant. If you are still studying accounting, include the current stage you are at in your exams, and your previous exams taken.
Regarding your previous work experience, as neat and structured as accountants are, recruiters are looking for a little more in your CV for private equity. The information provided should ideally highlight the types of clients you have worked on and career progression, rather than just listing your duties in your respective positions. Let the recruiter know about your journey, how you have progressed in your career overall, or in your current company, since you joined. How did the company or your role look when you joined, compared to how they look now? What changes or improvements have you implemented in your time there? If you have been at your last organisation for a few years, use your analytical skills to draw out your advancement from when you started to where you are now.
Quantifiable achievements are important to highlight, showing that you are on a trajectory, or that you have been involved in various projects or initiatives and how you have influenced them.
Your level of technical expertise on accounting systems as well as Excel should be mentioned next, and to complete the CV you can always add a personal interest or two, if you feel that this contributes to the overall impression you are trying to create for this role.
CVs for investment and capital raising
To achieve success as a private equity professional, you need a high level of financial competence, technical aptitude and the ability to think strategically. Strong communication skills are also key as networking, negotiation and public speaking will become even more essential as you rise in seniority. However, as a private equity associate, by far your most important skill will be financial modelling. If you don’t have the financial modelling experience, you just won’t get very far. This is why PE firms are always keen to hire from M&A in respected investment banks, as it is imperative to gain quality exposure and training on complex financial modelling. If you fall short in this area … you simply need to get the experience first.
Assuming you have the required experience, no matter what your background – be it investment banking or management consulting – recruiters want to understand what relevant experience you have gained in your previous positions and why that would qualify you to become a private equity associate. Present your experience in your CV in way that conveys your aptitude for the private equity role you are pursuing, and clarify how your experience will be beneficial to you and the firm going forward.
In Investment and Capital Raising in particular, recruiters want to clearly see how much money you have raised and the extent of your deal experience. When describing your previous deals, always tailor your information to be pertinent to the role. Deal information should include the sector, with a line or two describing the company, the reason for the deal, the challenges and your key contributions. Where you have worked on numerous deals, select your top deals where you gained the most relevant experience and can highlight your skills in your key deliverables. If you have broader experience, stick to what is relevant to the private equity role. Besides your excellent academic record, this is the main information recruiters are looking at.
CVs for Business Support
While private equity roles themselves attract top candidates, recruiters are also very selective in their assessments of candidates for the supporting roles. With the excellent remuneration and benefits in this area, all roles in private equity firms are sought after, so exceptionally high standards are the norm. Sector experience is always preferred, which includes private equity, hedge fund, venture capital, SME and financial services experience.
Business support roles including executive assistants, personal assistants, office managers, team assistants and receptionists, play a critical part in the overall smooth running of the private equity firm.
For these roles, a short succinct profile of a few lines can head up the CV, followed immediately by the most important and relevant information to the role being applied for. If you have a good education, lead with that and follow with your experience. Previous roles should be listed with the name of the company, the dates worked there and your responsibilities.
Make sure to always read and re-read the job specification and to tailor the information in your CV accordingly. Not all executive assistant or office manager jobs are the same. The more your CV matches the job specifications, the higher your chances of being interviewed. Do not repeat yourself, and if previous roles all had the same responsibilities, it is not necessary to re-write them with every company but rather summarise them once.
Importantly, unexplained gaps in your CV look bad without exception and the recruiter will automatically assume the worst. Be honest about the gaps in your career progression on your CV. Being sincere, upfront and human are qualities that are greatly appreciated in these roles where soft skills are instrumental to making a success of the role.
CVs for Marketing
Marketing roles in private equity are not only sector specific, but also skill specific. Marketing experience needs to be broad as the marketing role in this sector covers a wide variety of proficiencies from marketing strategy and social media to design work, website management and events. As with the business support roles above, the marketing CV needs to be clear and to the point, with a short profile at the top and experience and responsibilities straightforwardly presented, clearly compatible with the job specification. Technical expertise in the relevant software packages, such as InDesign or various CRM options, is also important to add.
For these roles, as with the business support roles, soft skills are an important aspect of the position, so if you have intriguing hobbies or interests outside of work you should list them in your CV as well.
CVs for Human Resources
In the private equity sector, the human resources and talent acquisition roles are just as competitive and sought after as the rest. With the sector itself constantly growing and evolving, the recruitment opportunities grow too, and there are more HR career options than ever before. True HR generalists tend to thrive in private equity firms as the work often covers the gamut of HR tasks and situations. This not only provides great variety, but also allows junior HR practitioners to gain greater access and exposure to higher levels.
Ideally, PE HR roles are filled with people who have previously worked in buy side firms as they can hit the ground running due to their experience of smaller teams and the sector as a whole. An excellent academic record also makes the right impression for these roles, where a strong work ethic and intellectual acumen are prized qualities.
Your work experience should comprise the majority of your CV, along with your academic record, followed by any interests you feel are relevant to the role. Your previous roles should be listed with accurate dates, concise descriptions and definitely no gaps in your career progression. In private equity HR, consistent previous roles over a decent period of time at an organisation will always trump a CV with numerous shorter term roles – no matter how good you are. Therefore it is important that your CV reflects your consistency and stability if you want to make it to the interview stage.
CV for Private Equity Next Steps
Now that you have a better idea of what is required of your private equity CV, you can tailor your information to suit the specific role you have in mind. With new insight into what the recruiters and private equity firms are looking for in candidates for the various roles, you will now be one step ahead with your new CV that emphasises all your important private equity experience and skills.
If you would like to discuss this in more detail with us, please get in touch. With our wide-ranging client base from niche boutique specialists and smaller Family Offices, to diversified multi-fund investment firms, we have a reputation for providing the very best talent to the UK market.