You want to work for a hedge fund. That's fine, but don't expect finding a job to be easy. Like private equity jobs, hedge fund jobs are massively over-subscribed. If you're going to get in, you'll need to be exceptional. And you'll need to have an outstandingly good CV.
So, which attributes should you have on your hedge fund CV? We spoke to top hedge fund recruiters in New York and London. They suggested the following.
The STAR method (situation, task, analysis and result) is often used as a job interview technique, but the concept is easily transferable to resume writing. Hedge fund recruiters want to see quantifiable personal results, not bullet-pointed responsibilities, says John Breault, chief executive of New York-based hedge fund recruiter Breault & Smith.
Charles Morrison, a hedge fund search consultant at London-based Altus Partners, agrees. "There's a very no-nonsense approach to CVs in the hedge fund industry," he says. "When you're adding information to your CV it needs to be quantifiable and qualifiable. If you're moving into a fund from IBD, you need to talk about exactly which deals you worked on and exactly what you did on those deals. Don't talk abstrusely about your intangible soft skills.'
Break down difficult situations you’ve encountered and detail how you personally overcame them to generate compelling results, whether financially or otherwise. “The last thing a hedge fund recruiter wants to see is a generic resume that could easily have been written by someone who is either amazing or terrible,” Breault says.
If you're moving into a hedge fund from a trading role, you will - ideally - need to come with an audited track record, or the closest possible thing to it. If you've worked in the sector before, hiring hedge funds will want to know how much money you were managing, how much alpha you generated (or not) and what your sharpe ratio was. Ideally they will also want all of this verified.
Unfortunately, appending an audited track record to your hedge fund CV can be hard. If you don't have an audited track record, you'll need to give as detailed but succinct information about your portfolio and its performance. "You'll need to be explain why you made particular investment decisions," says Morrison. "Tell the story of your portfolio over the past few years."
As the mavericks of the investment industry, hedge funds like quirky candidates with interesting backgrounds. Right? Wrong. Hedge funds have become institutionalized. They like names. Big names.
"It will help to have an excellent degree from an excellent university," says Jacob Schmidt, chief executive of independent research firm Schmidt Research Partners.
The London-based head of an international search firm that recruits for analyst positions at top hedge funds agrees. "When we're looking for investment analysts to work at top funds, we will always go for the people who've been to great universities and then gone into a really, really good graduate training programme at a top bank."
Big brand names - educational or otherwise - are less important at senior levels in hedge funds. At this point, it's all about track record (see 2).
If you're moving from an investment bank to an analysis role in a hedge fund, it will help to add some information about your personal portfolio to your CV. Benjamin Kelleher of London based recruitment firm Kia Consultants, says it can be a differentiator to add a short paragraph of information on your portfolio and investment strategy. If you're applying for a role in a long short equity fund, it may also help to add two long ideas and two short ideas to your resume.
Hedge funds are not a generic asset class. There are multiple hedge fund strategies and there all kinds of different funds with different hiring preferences. "Hedge fund candidates’ CVs obviously vary enormously according to strategy," says Morrison. "Are you applying to a systemic fund, a macro fund, an event driven fund, a high yield fund, a fundamentally driven fund, a distressed debt fund etc?" However, even though two funds are pursuing similar strategies, they might like to hire very different types of people, adds Morrison. "We have one client who likes to take people with two years' bulge bracket experience followed by two years with a top buyout fund. We have another client with an ostensibly similar investment style, who likes to take people from accountancy firms. All funds have their idiosyncrasies."
Before sending in your CV for a hedge fund rule, Morrison therefore suggests you do your due diligence: who else works for the fund and what do they have on their CV? If you're based in the UK, you'll be able to find employee names by consulting the Financial Conduct Authority Register.