Private equity is often considered the Holy Grail of finance jobs. The pay is good, the work buying and selling companies is challenging, and the culture tends to be gentler than at some investment banks despite some of the same long hours.
However, getting in the door of these buy-side firms can be fraught with complexities. From the headhunters to know to tips on nailing the grueling hiring process at firms like Blackstone and KKR, Business Insider has all the details on how to break into the $12 trillion private equity industry.
For the most part, private equity pay tends to be on par with or better than pay at investment banks. And as with the rest of Wall Street, it has increased in recent years. In 2023, the median starting salary for first-year analysts was $125,000, according to an August report by recruitment firm Odyssey Search Partners. That was up from a median starting salary of $110,000 in 2022.
Meanwhile, median bonuses rose to $85,000, up from $75 last year. Here’s how much top firms like Blackstone, KKR, and Oaktree offered for 2024 jobs.
Private equity firms tend to recruit young talent from investment banks years before their start dates. The process is known as “on-cycle” recruitment, which can lead to an intense weeklong period where PE firms and their recruiters interview newbie investment bankers.
The process has been starting earlier than ever — leading to havoc for many first-year investment banking analysts. In 2023, private equity firms started reaching out in July before junior investment bankers finished their summer training, as BI’s Emmalyse Brownstein recently reported. Some junior bankers were forced to sneak out of their on-the-job training to prepare for the tough interview process.
A small group of headhunters and other advisors hold power over the private equity recruitment process. These gatekeepers can make or break candidates’ prospects before they can even interview with PE firms.
BI identified 13 recruiting firms that can help you get a buy-side job. Separately, we built a searchable database of top private-equity headhunters at leading firms, so you know exactly who to contact with your resumé. Access the database of more than 350 headhunters here.
If you’re looking for a job at a top buyout firm like Blackstone, get in line. The firm accepted 169 people to its 2023 first-year class after receiving 62,000 applications, making it more difficult to get into than Harvard.
To get a sense of what it takes to succeed at Blackstone, we interviewed Jonathan Gray, a Blackstone lifer and now president and chief operating officer, about what he looks for in a job candidate. We also spoke to more than 50 insiders for a story that reveals how Gray climbed to the top and is now remaking the firm in his Golden Boy image.
Private equity giants are still racing to fill 2024 associate seats. See 8 firms — from Carlyle to Bain Capital — that have been recruiting first-year investment bankers for jobs that won’t start for 18 months.
Disclosure: KKR is a large shareholder in Axel Springer, which owns Business Insider.