Trading in investment banking isn’t as well-paid or as ‘fun’ as it once was. Hedge funds have been the obvious escape route for many, but making the move across to the buy-side is tough and only a select few traders can secure a switch. Here’s how you can spruce up your resume to ensure you can catch recruiters’ attention.
Hedge funds only hire specialists. If they’re hiring analyst they’re looking for the best in that sector; if they’re hiring traders or portfolio managers, the chances are that they’ll be working on a particular strategy.
“Highlight the industry sectors you know best,” says Anthony Keizner, managing director of headhunters Glocap. “If you have specific experience in say telecoms, industrials or E&P, it will help your resume get noticed.”
The key to grabbing the attention of a hedge fund recruiter is convincing them that your PnL was down to your individual brilliance and not the huge scale and infrastructure present on the trading floors of investment banks.
“It’s a mistake not to highlight what you’ve done individually,” says Keizner. “There’s a feeling with some HF hiring managers that those at who have been successful at banks were so because they had layers of junior support, and access to all kinds of resources. Showing that you can source, diligence and invest with limited support is a key message to get across.”
Last week it emerged that hedge fund Brevan Howard has hired former professional poker player Alexios Zervos, who has little to no relevant experience. This is not the first such hire – Tudor Capital hired Lawrie Inman who also played poker professionally, although he was a trader before this. Think chess, bridge or poker – all impress hedge funds. Also, according to hedge fund recruiters, if you've succeeded in running a business in addition to your day job, this is a big plus point.
"Hedge funds want to see an interesting story and they want to know that you can handle multiple pressures," says one former headhunter who now works in-house for a large hedge fund in Connecticut.
Hedge funds demand impeccable academics, and brand name universities – a little less so than private equity firms – but how far they go back is a little worrying.
“If you have a good GPA or top SATs, put them on your resume, even if it was many years ago (many HF hiring managers assume the scores weren’t great if they are omitted),” says Keizner. “And for better or worse, they put weight on these scores even for experienced candidates.”
Highlighting your experience? Don’t talk about generic responsibilities – show quantifiable results. What exactly did you achieve? What was your PnL? How did you beat, not work with, your peers in investment banking? Highlight challenges you faced and how you overcame them to produce results.
As dreadful as it sounds, hedge funds want to see evidence that you’re better than your contemporaries. Like private equity firms, they want to hire winners.
“If all your performance has been team-based, then at least play up the speed at which you were promoted, that you were nominated in the top category in reviews and received top-tier bonus awards,” says Keizner. “Hedge funds are looking for a small number of stellar performers who have risen to the top amidst top-quality peers.”