Breaking into a Hedge Fund Career

By Debra Wheatman

After a grueling time in investment banking, you are ready to drop the 60-hour work weeks and dramatically boost your income by shifting to a hedge fund job. You are looking forward to life on the buy-side. What can you expect? You will continue to spend time with your friend, Excel, and you will keep your analytical, valuation, and modeling skills sharp. Make sure you understand the rigors of the position. Despite the reputation, it’s not all about “bottles and models.”

Hedge fund firms may receive 100 or more resumes each week, most from highly-qualified professionals. How do you rise above the competition to get that coveted position? The bare minimum requirements are an MBA, preferably from an Ivy League school and relevant experience. The best indicators of your future success are your past results. How much money did you make for your current and recent firms? Do you have industry-established reputable references? Additionally, industry certifications help. (For example: Certified Hedge Fund Professional, Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst, Chartered Financial Analyst, Certification in Hedge Fund Regulation, and Certified Fund Specialist)

If you are a recent graduate, expect to spend your spare time researching the industry so you know the market, firms, key players, tools, and trends. An internship can be your entry and serve as a foundation; but internships are difficult to get. You’ll need to network ferociously to make the contacts to uncover opportunities just to get a shot at internships. Get involved with local chapters of major associations, such as the 50,000-member Hedge Fund Group or the Hedge Fund Association.

Many say that the major differentiating factor among similar top-qualified candidates is determination. If you are willing to network more, research continuously, and stay focused on your goal, you have a better chance to be the one-in-100 candidate that earns the opportunity.

Here are a few resources to explore:

Wikipedia: List of Hedge Firms

Hedge Me: The Insider’s Guide–U.S. Hedge Fund Careers by Thomas Fitch

Getting a Job in Hedge Funds: An Inside Look at How Funds Hire by Adam Zoia and Aaron Finkel

Hedge Hunters: After the Credit Crisis, How Hedge Fund Masters Survived by Katherine Burton

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