Private Equity Resume: Full guide to A Deal-oriented Resumes | BankingPrep

Resume is the most common piece of application document that any recruiter will ask for. It is a one-page document to show what you achieved in the previous and current position, your history of excellence, and your education. Writing a resume sounds like doing a simple job. However, it is more challenging than what you expected, especially in the case of prestigious Wall Street jobs: how to make your profile eye-catching and outstanding among the piles of thousands of prominent candidates?; how to tailor your past experience to create a Private Equity resume, to prove that you’re technically qualified, and also a good fit for the next firm? 

Our BankingPrep Resume Toolkit is here to help, with:

A list of action verbs

120 finance-related strong action verbs with detailed private equity resume examples are included in the Resume Toolkit. Choosing the right action verb keeps your job descriptions succinct, and adds more power and impact into even your smallest tasks. Those verbs are strongly recommended by past successful investment bankers, helping you make your own resume in the best way in the shortest timespan.

Comprehensive guideline

A standardized guideline to rock your resume to your dream Private Equity firm. From outlining to wording and formatting – our guide helps you kill each and every session in the resume.

Your work experience, education, and activities will be streamlined and presented in the best light with the most optimal structure.

Detailed editing

We provide you with the most detailed Resume review service: your one-page document would be thoroughly screened and graded. We have a concrete grading system that points out your mistakes, one-by-one, and suggests improvements to bettering your resume.

Line-by-line approach is applied to review and give feedback on your resume. To be exact, our experts will help sharpen important bullet points, and supersede purposeless ones.

 

Get rid of fatal mistakes

BankingPrep makes sure to help you avoid the fatal mistakes on your resume until the interview invitation is given. Here we list out 13 reasons why your resume fails at Blackstones and tips to turn it around. Use this ultimate list to proof-check after drafting your resume!

Make non-financial experience relevant to Private Equity

Everything on your resume will be adjusted to fit with Private Equity. Specifically, BankingPrep helps turn your past experience to sound like working on “deals”, non-target backgrounds to sound like finance-related the most.

Feedback within 3 days

We commit to send you, WITHIN 3 WORKING DAYS, a fully reviewed, commented, and graded copy of your resume, pointing out detail by detail on which part to make adjustments.

BankingPrep is committed to send back the first version of the edited resume with detailed feedback from our experts as soon as possible within 3 days, regardless of holidays and weekends.

1. Everything about a Private Equity Resume

1.1 Thirteen reasons why your Ivy League Resume is rejected

You spent 7,890,000 seconds to write a resume. But it only takes 2 seconds to get discarded, if you have one of the following 13 deadly mistakes.

1.1.1 No contact information

If they can’t call you, you are out, before they even try to see if they want to call you or not. This is easy to fix. Before you forget, go check your resume right now and have a peace of mind that you got it! Then take it one step further, make sure you use smart spacing to make your contact info really easy to read. For example, don’t write 0172572951. Make it: 0172.572.951

1.1.2 Religious/ Political viewpoint

These are sensitive subjects and the resume is absolutely not the place to express your viewpoints. It’s a professional document after all! You are expected to stay neutral. If you have previous working experiences at NGO/ NPO in this field, use professional terminologies to describe them!

1.1.3 Photo – Gender – Race

At least in the United States, making hiring decisions based on Gender or Race is strictly prohibited. So if there is any trace of gender and race on your resume, the screener would not risk it. They would just stay away from your resume right away. Not good!

1.1.4 Two-page length

BIB92-pages resumes are a nightmare to handle in the screening room. Senior Associates don’t care about your long history and impressive experience. If it’s 2-page long, 99% of the time they discard it right away or at best, just judge the first page. And it’s hard to get hired in those situations.

So try hard to make the best use of the space. Write clean and concise bullets. No history too long to fit into 1 page.

1.1.5 Creative template

Creative resume templates might be attractive to other careers, but not in the finance industry. But if recruiters are to hire a trusted pilot that they bet their life with, for sure they would pick one with a good old professional template. Private Equity people, for the same reason, would stay away from creative and colorful resumes. To be safe, just use the official template accepted at Private Equity (encouraged by senior associates/associates in Mega Funds).

1.1.6 Spelling / Grammar mistakes

Simple as it may seem, thousands of candidates make this mistake due to carelessness. How can a prestige firm trust that they won’t make that mistake in future investment thesis? These are absolutely auto-fail mistakes. If you double-check your resume 5 times, you will come out clean! It’s just a matter of commitment and respect for your career.

1.1.7 Formatting mistakes

If you cannot format a 1-page resume neatly in low-stress situations, how can you handle a big volume of complicated documents under time pressure? Always put your content with left alignment, delete unnecessary spacing, organize bullets structurally. Don’t forget to keep various elements’ format consistent throughout.

1.1.8 Verbal language

Your resume is a professional document, don’t use any verbal expressions or wordings. Professional financers take this very seriously. Don’t fall for those PE jargons you find online either. Instead, use banking content wordings. Find a list of that in the Resume Toolkit program or the link above.

1.1.9 Talk behind anyone’s back

REPE 2You may have quitted your recent job because of complaining customers, an annoying boss, or trouble-making colleagues. However, your resume is definitely NOT the place to mention these things. Screeners don’t care about whether those things actually happen or not. All they know is your negativity. Try to reflect your previous experience in a neutral to positive voice, focusing on your accomplishments!

1.1.10 Low GPA

Although there is no “hard” cut-off bar for GPA, it is still the first number screeners would notice. A less-than-3.2 GPA will most likely not advance you to the next rounds. Even Mega funds require a minimum of 3.5 GPA. If you have a sub-3.2 GPA, you have to make it up with really really great achievements in almost everything else.

1.1.11 Word file

Sending a Word file to apply for jobs is always a risky move, as you don’t know how it will turn out on others’ screens and printers. Your beautiful formatting may turn out to look terrible. Plus, screeners normally would just discard a word document anyway. Remember to export your resume to PDF and you know your resume looks exactly how you want it!

1.1.12 Bad file name

You may name your resume “Resume.doc” and it seems to work within your own computer. But each office receives thousands of resumes, and it is a nightmare for them dealing with thousands “resume.doc”. Before you forget, rename your file as “2020_Your name_Resume.pdf” now to avoid all of these troubles. 

1.1.13 No email title, no attachment, no body text

They will start to judge you from the moment your email comes to their mailbox. The screener knows whether you are reliable or not by the way you carry yourselves through an email. No professional banker would send an email without a subject title, a thoughtful email body, or an intended attachment. Triple check your email before sending it! 

These mistakes may sound simple, but they are responsible for thousands of rejections every year. Make sure you arm yourselves and don’t fall for these reasons! Then focus on the actual writing and content of your private-equity resume.

BankingPrep often sees 13 deadly mistakes above in plenty of resumes we receive before recruiting seasons come. Just a second of carelessness on your resume, you can sabotage your chance of passing the resume round. Fortunately, BankingPrep designs Resume Toolkit programs with ex – Mega Fund Private Equity coaches, offering best advice to craft your resume in the best light until you receive the interview invitation.  

1.2 Introduction to Private Equity Resume

Private Equity or buy-side jobs in general, is a holy grail of many top-notch undergraduates, Investment Banking analysts and MBA graduates. Of course, securing a position in these empires is not an easy task since the competition is becoming increasingly fierce.  

Different backgrounds have different chances of landing finance jobs. If you want to learn about the detailed chance of landing in private equity firms, you can leverage our WallStreet Careers Planning Tool. The tool examines the chances of getting into Wall Street for different backgrounds. It provides the big picture of Wall Street’s job market and acts as a career guideline for you to land your dream job. 

Private Equity internships and full-time recruitment are hyper-accelerated, so you have to think about starting preparing in Year 1 of university.

However, writing an excellent resume is one step that you should not ignore because it is your first greeting to the PE firm. Without a PE-customized resume, no matter how smart you are, how hard you work, recruiters won’t choose you over other outstanding resumes.

Before zooming into how to make the right resume, let’s take a look at where the resume stands in the application process. 

Here is the set of 6 steps in the application process to follow if you want to have a smooth transition to Private Equity.

  1. Understand WallStreet/Finance Career
  2. Prepare yourself and your own story
  3. Write your resume 
  4. Internship/Experience
  5. Networking
  6. Interview

1.3 What do Private Equity firms look for in a Resume?

In practice, Private Equity resumes are only screened for a minute or less (around 30 seconds). This means that your resume needs to make an instant good first impression.

A finance-oriented resume can help increase your chance of being advanced to the next assessment. The Private Equity Analyst and Associate are entry-level roles. For this reason, the firms look for 3 key differentiators on your resume:

      1. History of academic excellence (i.e. GPA / GMAT / SAT, awards & honors, brand name work experiences, competition wins, leadership)

  • Quick fact: Some PE firms do ask applicants to submit SAT scores. However, the impact of SAT is still debatable. GPA and GMAT (for MBA candidates) play a larger role. 

      2. Professional achievements (i.e. past deal-related responsibilities, past relatable work experience) 

      3. Passion for investment and Private Equity (i.e. school major, past internships, clubs, relevant working experience, related coursework)

Depending on the job you are applying for, the weight of each point will be slightly different. For example: A career changers have to focus on the professional aspect more than the academic record while a student should focus on the academic result and passion for finance as he or she has not had any working experience yet. 

We will talk about how you can reflect those on your resume in our guideline later. 

If you have all of those 3 bullet points, congratulations! But don’t forget to have a clean and neat, and grammar-error free resume. Hence, we break down our guideline into 2 separate sessions: (1) Content and (2) Format.

2. Content Guidelines for a Private Equity Resume

2.1 Common Sections in a Resume

We talked about 3 differentiators that recruiters will look for in your resume. In reality, those key points will be reflected as below

  • History of academic excellence is reflected in “Education” section
  • History of professional excellence is reflected in “Work Experience” section
  • Passion for finance is reflected in “Extracurricular Activities” or “Additional” (*)

(*) “Additional” section for professionals is equivalent to “Extracurricular Activities” for Undergraduates  

The order of sections can be a little different between different backgrounds. If you are currently a student, then “EDUCATION” should be at the top. If you are a career switcher, then you should prioritize the “WORK EXPERIENCE” section. 

This rule is not mandatory. However, we highly recommend you to follow as this is built based on human psychology: we put what we want people to remember the most about us on top.

Undergraduates

Graduates (MBA, Master Degrees)

Professionals (Career Changers)

(1) Education

(2) Work Experience

(3) Extracurricular Activities

(1) Education

(2) Work Experience

(3) Extracurricular Activities

(1) Work Experience

(2) Education

(3) Additional (*)

Beside those, there is also the “Contact Information” section. Later, we will deep dive into each section and show you how to write them in your resume  

2.1.1 Bold Contact Information section at the top

This is the section where you put your name, and other contact information including your mobile phone number, email address, and home address. 

Your name should be bold, and centered on the page. It should be the largest font size, probably around 16 to 18-point size. This is to ensure your name stands out amongst the sea of candidates. You should try a few font sizes to see which one will square with the rest of the whole resume.  

Your contact information should appear right below your name. You should use the same font size as the font you are using for the resume. It means, if you’re using 11-point font to write your resume, you can write the contact info in 11-point font. 

For example:

Richard Jones

[(123) 456-7890] | [richard.jones@abc.com] | [123 East 24th Street, New York, NY 10020, USA]

2.1.1 Education section: History of academic excellence

A track record of excellence is what employers hinge largely on to decide whether you will be a potential superb private-market investor in the future.

The excellence at whatever you enjoy doing can prove your hard work, perseverance, discipline, and concentration. These are necessary personalities to thrive in finance in general, specifically in Private Equity. 

The history of excellence includes the following:

  • STRONG academic background
  • FASCINATING extracurricular activities

The history of excellence in different backgrounds can be presented by:

Background “Education” section’s content
Undergraduates

(1) High GPA (Minimum: 3.0/4.0, preferred: 3.5+/4.0, especially in finance majors, finance-related majors)

  • Academic distinctions (Dean’s list, summa cum laude, magna cum laude, cum laude, qualifications) – if possible
  • SAT score: the impact of SAT on recruitment result is still debatable 
  • DO NOT PUT your highschool GPA 

(2) Professional designations, such as CFA, CPA, ICAEW (UK), etc

(3) Awards & Honors in academic programs, case business competitions, investment competitions, sport competitions, dancing clubs, etc

(4) Scientific Research

(5) Etc

MBA graduates/Professionals

(1) High GPA

  • Academic distinctions (Dean’s list, summa cum laude, magna cum laude, cum laude, qualifications) – if possible
  • GMAT (if available)
  • SAT score: optional

(2) Professional designations, such as CFA, CPA, ICAEW (UK), etc

(3) Awards & Honors in academic programs, case business competitions, investment competitions, sport competitions, dancing clubs, etc

(4) Scientific Research

(5) Etc

 

PE CV Example

2.1.3 Work Experience section

This is the section where you put all outstanding and relevant work experience you have. “WORK EXPERIENCE” section is seen as the heart, the most important section of your resume. This is the opportunity to showcase accomplishments and the most relevant skills from your career to resume readers, whether they were internships or full-time jobs.

Private Equity, especially Mega Funds love to see widely recognized brand names, so add well known companies that you’ve either worked for or supported.

The work experience should be documented in reverse-chronological order. That is, the most recent experience should be the first, followed by the prior experience. For career switchers, if you have several positions with the same employer, break out those positions and accomplishments in reverse-chronological order as well. 

PE CV Example

The most important thing here is to make your writing concise. Below the employer line, you should write about your accomplishments, not job descriptions. Regarding accomplishments, similar to the work experience, the most significant accomplishments should be the first, followed by less notable ones.

A. Make the resume deal-oriented in WORK EXPERIENCE section

Private Equity is all about deals; therefore, before writing your resume, you should carefully consider which experience makes your resume deal-oriented. In the below table, we score all the relevant experiences so that you can have a direction for your resume.

Score Relevant work experience – For pre-MBA Associate
5 An analyst at Bulge Brackets or Elite Boutique Banks
4

An analyst at Middle-Market & Boutique Banks

An analyst at a Middle-Market Private Equity firm

3 An experienced candidate at Big4, Valuation firms, and Risk Management
2 An internship at Wealth Management or Boutique Financial service firms
1 Relevant finance experience including: student-run funds, finance and business clubs
Score Relevant work experience – For Analyst
5

An internship at PE. 

An IBD internship at Bulge Brackets/Elite Boutique Banks

4

An internship at Hedge funds

An internship at Sales & Trading, Equity Research in Investment Banks

3 An internship at Big4, Valuation firms, and Risk Management
2 An internship at Wealth Management or Boutique Financial service firms
1 Relevant finance experience including: student-run funds, finance and business clubs

If you can score 4 or 5, it means that you have a preferred experience for Private Equity. But what if you only get 1-3? Definitely, there will be more work to do with your resume but we will share how to twist that. 

  • Step 1: Take a look at the current job description of Analyst/Associate/Senior Associate and pick the keyword when your target firm describes that position. 

 

Example

1. Both job description and actual work of PE’s Analyst and pre-MBA Associate are related to Investment Deal. Therefore, the key theme of the resume should be your Achievements/Involvement in Deal transactions, emphasizing on Due diligence, Financial Modeling or Market Valuation.

2. If you apply for Senior Associate positions, Deal experience is important but experience in managing companies, restructuring organizations, etc should be highlighted also because Senior Associates probably involve more in portfolio companies’ operation and management.

  • Step 2: Select your achievements/involvements that you can read 

There are some ground rules that you should follow here

  1. You should choose 2-4 achievements under each position. Do not put only 1 achievement as it will raise the concern that you did not achieve much. There is one exception here: IB Analysts who have just started their jobs in the last 2-3 months.
  2. Change any relevant word into “deal”, if possible. People who scored 1-3 in the table above often slip this rule but this principal can help them have a more PE-driven resume.  
  3. In each achievement, remember to put the size of that deal, type of that deal, and your action/involvement.
  4. The order of deal size, deal type and your involvement should be consistent across bullet points. We often recommend this order [Your action/responsibility][Deal size][Dealtype]. Consistency will help the hiring team catch up all the information quickly. 
  5. Start your point with an action verb to get the attention and clearly express what you did 

Those rules will be beneficial also for anyone who owns a strongly related experience to private equity. 

B. Approaches to structure WORK EXPERIENCE section

There are several ways to structure your resume, helping amplify your commitment and fit with Private Equity.

2.1.4 Extracurricular activity/ Additional

This is where you can show your Passion for Investment, especially Private Equity

This section rounds you out as an individual, where you can write extracurricular activities you have joined beyond your professional and educational accomplishments. The activity you present can help form an interesting first impression. 

For experienced hires, this section can be considered optional. For undergraduate, interesting extracurricular activities will help fill up the resume. 

Since it is a professional resume, you should think thoroughly about what you are going to write in your paper. You couldn’t pick a resume reader, so keep in mind to avoid trivial activities such as cooking, going-out hobbies. Conservative employers may be turned off by not hard-core accomplishments like that. 

Your resume has to be consistent with the whole thing – Private Equity and passion with Investment Deals. Therefore, finance-related, especially deal-related activities are much preferred to include:

  • Student-run investment funds
  • Investment community/clubs
  • Case business competitions
  • Day Trading activities via your personal account

2.2 Terminology and action verbs for resume

One of the most important things to get the first instant impression is how you use action verbs on your resume. Bullet points with strong action verbs can describe how hard you work, how heavily you are involved in the projects and gauge the level of distribution, commitment to the project.

With the BankingPrep Resume Toolkit, you’ll get a list of must-use strong action verbs. 120 verbs are designed with detailed examples which are tailored to investment banking. These verbs will take your resume up to a higher level, grab attention from senior investment bankers in the first 30 seconds. 

3. Format Guidelines for a Private Equity Resume

With a ton of resumes that Private Equity firms receive every year, recruiters usually just take a glance over your resume, and catch a quick glimpse of your personality traits and your excellence for around 30 to 60 seconds, then deliver a decision to the HR department.

Resume is the first test in your ability to convey your information in a concise, impactful way. Beside putting your information and great achievements on your resume, you have to make it brief and eye-catching based on the following basic formats. You must grasp every opportunity to strengthen the chance into the next rounds. 

3.1 Margins

Some firms may be very strict as to what they want in a resume format. In that case, let’s go with what they require. However, if there are no specific requirements, a quality resume should be formatted with right margins as mentioned below.

  • Top: It should be the biggest margin at the top, ideally 1 inch or 0.75 inches.
  • Bottom: You can make it 0.5 inches to 0.75 inches.
  • Sides: It is the same as for the bottom, you can get away with 0.5 inches to 0.75 inches.

3.2 Font

3.2.1 Font style

Since the private equity’s environment is professional, no “fancy” font and “funny” style should be used. It must go on to professionalism in all things.

Classic fonts such as Calibri, Arial or Times New Roman are what you should stick with. Some people can use other fonts, but they seem a little bit wide, which means you cannot include as many words on your resume. 

Courier and Verdana in particular are fonts that are not bad. Using these fonts, however, tends to waste space if you want to write down more “significant accomplishments”.

3.2.2 Font size

Ideally, the font size is from 10-point to 12-point. The average, 11-point font, is seen as the most eye-catching.

Note:

  • A larger font size will force you to precisely choose your words to write down on the resume. 
  • A smaller font size with too much information is the sign that you need to reduce your wordings and shorten your sentences. 

3.3 Spacing

You are going to use numerous bullet-points to mention key highlights of your past achievements. If the bullets are so squished together, your resume will look like a bunch of texts put in a small crowded space.

There are several spacing formats (paragraph formattings) you have to keep in mind to create an attractive resume.

  • For Line Spacing: You should use 1.0 or even 0.9
  • For After Spacing: You should aim for 6 points between each line to make it eye-catching and clear.  

Note: The last step in editing your resume is to check the spacing formats. A resume with the right format can grasp recruiters’ notice and help your resume stand out among outstanding candidates.

3.4 One page only

The most important thing is to try to keep your resume on one page ONLY. Thousands of resumes come to Private Equity firms’ portals in each on-cycle recruiting season. Employers don’t spend too much on reading your resume. You have opportunities to show more in interviews. 

You can always find ways to trim down your resume to one page by asking yourself these questions below:

  1. What value-added information should you convey in a resume? 
  2. Is there any shorter, briefer way to mention the points?
  3. Instead of documenting every award, activity, achievement, can you narrow it down?
  4. Can you put your information elsewhere in the application process?

Note: One page without having plenty of white space in it.

To summarize everything, here is our checklist for a deal-oriented resume used for Private Equity application.

RESUME CHECKLIST

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