by Brian DeChesare Comments (40)

How to Get a Job at a Hedge Fund: Hedge Fund Recruiting

How to Get a Job at a Hedge Fund
When it comes to how to get a job at a hedge fund, real information is tough to find.

Part of that is intentional: hedge fund recruiting, is less structured than investment banking interviews or private equity recruiting.

Also, many hedge funds are not interested in broadly marketing themselves to candidates.

As a result, it’s far more difficult to outline a step-by-step recruiting process.

But since this entire site is dedicated to step-by-step processes, mixed with my apocalyptic worldviews and obsessions with TV shows, so I’ll give it my best shot:

What Do Hedge Funds Do?

A hedge fund is an investment fund that raises capital from institutional investors and accredited investors and then invests it in financial assets – usually liquid, publicly traded assets.

Most hedge funds target absolute returns rather than relative returns, and they use a wide variety of strategies and securities to achieve those returns.

“Absolute returns” means that if the S&P is down 25% for the year, and your hedge fund is down 15%, that’s a terrible outcome because the fund has still lost money.

On the other hand, if the S&P is up 30% for the year, but your hedge fund is up only 20%, that’s a good outcome on an absolute basis because the fund has still earned money.

“Wide variety of strategies and securities” means that hedge funds do far more than simply buying and selling plain-vanilla stocks and bonds.

For example, they may short-sell securities, use derivatives, bet on mergers going through or failing, and they may become directly involved in events like spin-offs and restructurings.

Hedge funds differ from mutual funds and asset management firms because those firms tend to target relative returns (e.g., “beat the S&P by 5%”) and they follow more traditional strategies, such as buying and holding undervalued stocks.

Hedge funds differ from private equity firms because PE firms usually buy and sell entire companies or large stakes in companies, and most of their holdings are illiquid.

Why Work at a Hedge Fund?

Hedge funds are good if you’re extremely passionate about the public markets, and you want to follow companies and other securities rather than work on deals.

“Extremely passionate” means:

  • You’re constantly reading about the financial markets in books and other media.
  • In your spare time, you research companies, create investment theses, and buy and sell stocks, bonds, derivatives, and other assets.
  • You’ve joined investing clubs and have participated in investing competitions.
  • You procrastinate on other work/responsibilities by trading your portfolio.

The money is a big draw as well.

If you’re at the right fund and you perform well, you can earn into the mid-six-figures, up to $1 million+, even as a junior-level employee such as a Hedge Fund Analyst.

And the top individual Portfolio Managers can earn hundreds of millions or billions each year.

Hedge funds offer a much higher pay ceiling than investment banking, (sometimes) better hours and work/life balance, and the chance to do more interesting work.

The downsides are that your exit opportunities out of a hedge fund will be more limited, it’s still a very stressful job even though you work fewer hours, and if your fund blows up or otherwise shuts down, you’ll be out of a job.

Also, many people are pessimistic about the future of the hedge fund industry because of the rise of index funds, passive and automated investing, and AI.

It’s not going to disappear overnight, and you can still make money even in a declining industry, but the best time to enter a hedge fund was a long time ago (e.g., the 1980s or 1990s) when there were more opportunities and fewer threats on the horizon.

For more about the advantages and disadvantages, please see our article on the hedge fund career path as well as our hedge fund overview.

Who Wins Hedge Fund Interviews and Offers? And for Which Roles?

There are three main roles at most funds, and the hedge fund recruiting process differs for each one:

  1. Investment Analysts (IAs) or Research Analysts: They are the junior employees who generate investment ideas, do the analysis, and present their ideas to the senior team.
  2. Portfolio Managers (PMs): They review the Investment Analysts’ work and then decide which investments to pursue.
  3. Traders or Execution Traders (ETs): They receive directions from the PMs and execute their ideas, using their knowledge of buyers and sellers in the market.

At some funds, the Investment Analyst and Execution Trader roles are blended – for example, Structured Product and Investment Grade Credit investors usually do their own trading as well.

And at some types of funds, there are additional roles – for example, at quant funds, there are also quants and programmers with math/statistics/computer science backgrounds.

In addition to these front-office roles, there are also middle and back-office roles for trade settlement, compliance, IT, HR, and more.

In this article, we’ll focus on how to get a job at a hedge fund for Investment Analyst roles because:

  1. If you’re working in a field such as investment banking or equity research, you’re far more likely to win a role as an Investment Analyst than anything else here.
  2. You don’t “recruit” for PM roles – you get promoted to that position after developing a track record of results.
  3. To win Execution Trading Roles, you pretty much need to be a trader in the right group at a large bank. We cover this topic in the article about sales & trading exit opportunities.
  4. And finally, quant funds are a whole separate topic that I don’t want to get into here, as we have an article on them and one on quant research jobs.

The following professionals have the best chance of winning Investment Analyst roles at hedge funds:

  1. Investment Banking Analysts at bulge bracket and elite boutique banks, and sometimes ones who followed the “2 + 2” path (i.e., two years of IB followed by two years of PE).
  2. Equity Research Associates at bulge bracket banks.
  3. Research/Investment Analysts at traditional asset management firms or mutual funds.
  4. Some Sales & Trading professionals who happen to work in highly relevant groups, such as the rates trading desk or the equity derivatives desk.
  5. Occasionally, university graduates who have completed relevant internships, such as ones in asset management at a pension fund, win full-time hedge fund offers straight out of undergrad without another full-time role first.

Some large hedge funds have begun to recruit on-campus more actively, but it’s still not that common, and it may not necessarily be a good idea to accept a buy-side role right out of undergrad.

Of these categories, many U.S.-based hedge funds prefer IB Analysts – at least funds that use strategies such as long/short equity, merger arbitrage, and anything else related to fundamental analysis or deals.

Funds that use strategies such as global macro (i.e., trading FX, commodities, etc. based on changes in government policy, economic or trade policy, and interest rates) may prefer S&T professionals who have worked in areas like the rates trading desk.

And if the fund is even more specialized, such as one that invests in distressed credit, you should be on the distressed debt desk so your skills match up perfectly.

In terms of academic credentials, the quality of your undergraduate university, your GPA, and even your SAT or other standardized test scores, such as the A-Levels in the U.K., all matter in terms of how to get into hedge funds.

That said, “prestige” is not quite as important as it is in investment banking and private equity because hedge funds value results above all else.

As a result, you’ll see more non-traditional professionals at hedge funds than you will in IB/PE.

Beyond work experience and academics, hedge funds seek the following qualities in candidates:

  1. Passion for the Markets / Investing – You must enjoy reading about the markets, learning different businesses, and picking them apart. You must enjoy taking calculated risks by making bets and protecting your downside when those bets go wrong.
  2. Independent Thinking / Healthy Skepticism – You have significant autonomy at most hedge funds, and you must come up with ideas and spend your time efficiently. You must be able to absorb large volumes of information and decide what to pay attention to and what to ignore.
  3. Team Player-ness – Being a team player is critical because no investments happen in isolation. Even the biggest hedge funds have lean teams without much “middle management,” so you must be able to contribute without letting your ego override good team decisions.
  4. Emotional Stability – You will lose money because no investor is right 100% of the time (or even 51% of the time). When that happens, you need to remain calm and stick to your strategy. If you’re a hysterical or high-strung person, you’ll never make it.

How to Get a Job at a Hedge Fund: Who Does NOT Win Interviews and Offers?

It’s also worth pointing out a few things that are not useful for winning interviews and offers.

First off, an MBA is not particularly useful.

The numbers don’t lie: look at any employment survey of the top 10-15 business schools, and you’ll see that a low percentage of students (often 5-10% or less) accept hedge fund offers.

And the funds that do hire post-MBA often want to see pre-MBA buy-side experience, such as in private equity, asset management, or hedge funds.

The CFA is a bit more helpful, particularly if you’re a career changer or you need to demonstrate your knowledge in the absence of traditional finance experience.

However, it’s still less useful than real work experience in IB, PE, AM, ER, or S&T.

Both the CFA and MBA tend to be more helpful for traditional asset management roles, especially since AM firms conduct on-campus recruiting at a wider variety of business schools.

If you’re a day trader, it will be extremely difficult to win hedge fund jobs because trading a small amount of your own money is very, very different from taking positions worth millions or tens of millions.

Your best bet is to win an offer at a legitimate prop trading firm, build up a track record there, show that you can work in an institutional setting, and then use that experience to move over.

It can also be quite difficult to win hedge fund interviews if you’re at a boutique or middle market investment bank; you’re certainly unlikely to win mega-fund offers coming from one of those.

If you have your heart set on a mega-fund or even a mid-sized one, you should make a lateral move to a bulge bracket or elite boutique to boost your chances.

How to Get Into Hedge Funds: Paths into the Industry

Similar to private equity recruiting, there are “on-cycle” and “off-cycle” paths into hedge funds.

The difference is that “off-cycle recruiting” is far more prevalent for hedge funds since the industry is more fragmented and the required skill sets are less standardized.

In the on-cycle hedge fund recruiting process, mega-funds such as Citadel, Point72, Millennium, Fortress, and Bridgewater contact 1st Year IB Analysts at about the same type as large PE firms do.

These funds have internal recruiting teams or are represented by specific headhunters, such as Glocap, and they aim to fill a certain number of openings for the next year.

This process has been moving earlier each year, and it now happens several months (!) into the job for NY-based Analysts.

That means that you need to start preparing before your full-time job even begins.

“Preparation” for hedge fund interviews means coming up with 2-3 solid investment pitches, working on spinning your pitches into sounding like deals and then taking a strong view of each one, and making sure you can explain your market views coherently.

You can certainly network with professionals at these large funds, but headhunters dominate the process, and opportunities often depend on factors outside your near-term control, such as your bank, your undergraduate institution, and your GPA.

Interviews at the mega-funds typically go for 3-4 rounds, with several individual interviews in each round, and a modeling test or investment pitch near the end.

If you win an offer, you’ll hear back quickly, and the start date will usually be after your first year in IB ends.

By contrast, the mid-sized and smaller funds use off-cycle recruiting because they don’t have good visibility into their hiring needs until someone leaves.

Often, these departures happen in the first quarter of the calendar year because bonuses are awarded then – but spots also open up throughout the year.

These funds almost always want recruits to start immediately, but sometimes they’ll let Analysts stay until they receive their annual bonus, depending on the timing (e.g., 2-3 months might be OK, but probably not 9 months).

With these funds, networking is far more important and is one of the best ways to win interviews.

You can certainly reach out to headhunters and apply online through resume drops and job boards, but you’ll get better results with networking – if you do it correctly.

These firms tend not to have dedicated HR teams, so it’s easier to find professionals on LinkedIn or via your alumni network, email them to introduce yourself, and set up brief calls.

Once you win interviews, the process might not be that much different – especially if someone has just left and they need a replacement ASAP.

However, the process could be a lot more extended (e.g., several months rather than days or weeks) if they do not have an immediate hiring need.

Hedge Fund Headhunters: Do They Help?

Hedge funds employ many reputable headhunters: Glocap, Dynamics Search Partners, SearchOne, Amity, and more.

The mega-funds, multi-manager funds, and some single-manager funds all tend to use headhunters.

Our usual advice applies here as well: if you fit the mold of an ideal candidate, headhunters can be helpful in the “how to get a job at a hedge fund” process.

If not, don’t spend too much time with them.

So, if you graduated from Yale with a 3.9 GPA, worked in IB at JP Morgan and then in PE at Silver Lake, and now you want to join a TMT-focused hedge fund, headhunters will be lining up to help you move over.

But if you went to a state school, worked in a corporate finance rotational role at a mid-sized company, and then joined a regional boutique investment bank, don’t hold your breath.

If you want to work with headhunters, it’s always best to get referrals from co-workers and former co-workers and focus on specific professionals – not entire recruiting firms.

Other Routes into Hedge Funds

Some hedge funds hold investing competitions and award internships to the winners; you should explore these if you’re an undergraduate, but they’re not the best use of time if you already have full-time work experience.

Local CFA Societies can also offer a path into hedge funds right out of undergrad, and few students use them at all.

The idea is that you’ll begin studying for Level I of the CFA, attend in-person meetings of the CFA Society, meet investment professionals there, and then network your way into internships and, eventually, full-time offers.

The rest of this article will assume that you have full-time finance experience and you now want to network to win hedge fund roles.

We can divide the “how to get a job at a hedge fund” process into four steps:

  1. Research and screen for funds.
  2. Network with hedge fund professionals.
  3. Prepare for interviews.
  4. Follow up after the interviews and provide references.

How to Get a Job at a Hedge Fund: The Complete Process

Step 1: Research and Screen for Funds

Before you begin searching for anyone, you need to figure out the type of fund you want to work at.

If you’re not focused in your search, you will get nowhere – no matter your experience level or approach.

Here are some questions to think about:

  • Asset Class: Equities? Fixed Income? Commodities/FX? Convertibles? Private deals? A mix of all of these?
  • Industry Focus: Technology? Healthcare? Energy? Generalist?
  • Investment Strategy: Long/short equity? Investment-grade debt? Distressed debt? Global macro? Merger arbitrage?
  • Fund Model: Single-manager or multi-manager?
  • Size of Fund: Under $1 billion AUM? $1 – 5 billion? Over $10 billion?
  • Names Covered: Do Analysts there typically cover 5 – 10 companies or 40 – 50? Or something in between?
  • Investment Process: Do you have to present to the investment committee to take a $10 million position? Is the threshold higher/lower? Or is there very little bureaucracy?
  • Level of Activism: Does the fund take an active role in special events such as restructurings, acquisitions, and divestitures?
  • Culture: Is the office fairly quiet, with a lot of introverts? Or is it more social, or even “fratty”?
  • Hours / Lifestyle: Do you want fairly predictable hours, even if it means more boring day-to-day work, or would you be OK with a less predictable schedule?
  • Location: New York? London? Middle of Nowhere?

You don’t necessarily need answers to all these questions, but the more specific you are, the better your results will be.

For example, if you’ve worked in a TMT group at a bank and you have an engineering background, you might target funds that use convertible bond arbitrage strategies in the technology sector.

You prefer single-manager funds with between $1 and $5 billion in AUM, ideally in California, and you’d prefer to cover 5-10 names at once so you can do in-depth analysis on each one.

Simply with that criteria, you’ll get much better responses from headhunters, and you’ll be able to find funds more effectively.

You can search for hedge funds on different sites; there’s Preqin, Capital IQ, Bloomberg, and our IB Networking Toolkit has lists of funds as well:

IB Networking Toolkit

Win investment banking interviews with dozens of templates, examples, and guides for informational interviews, cold emails, cold calls, and more.

learn more

You could also attempt to use free sources like Google searches, compensation reports, or press releases, but if you’re serious about winning a job in the industry, it’s worth the money to get detailed information.

Don’t spend thousands of dollars on it, but spending $50-$100 to save yourself hours or days is well worth it.

Step 2: Network with Professionals

Once you have a preliminary list of funds – perhaps 20-30 to start with – go on LinkedIn and your alumni database and start searching for professionals at these funds.

You should ideally have a good LinkedIn profile as well, so that you’re more visible in the search results.

Once you find the names of professionals at these funds, you can contact them via email using a template similar to the one in our article on equity research recruiting:

SUBJECT: [Bank Name] Analyst – Opportunities at [Hedge Fund Name]

“Dear Mr. / Ms. [Name],

My name is [Name], and I’m currently a [XX-Year] Analyst at [Bank Name] in the [Group Name] group who found your contact information via [LinkedIn / the [University Name] alumni network].

I have become increasingly interested in hedge funds that invest in [Industry Name] companies and use [Strategy Name] strategies, particularly in the [XX – YY] AUM range, so your fund immediately caught my attention.

Before my role in investment banking, I completed internships in asset management at [Company Name 1] and [Company Name 2], both times focusing on the [Industry Name] sector.

I’ve attached here an example stock pitch I completed for [Company Name], as well as my resume.

I know you are extremely busy, but if you have a few minutes to speak so I could learn more about opportunities at [Hedge Fund Name], it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, and I look forward to connecting with you soon.

Best regards,

[Your Name]”

If you’re targeting different types of funds, you can customize this template a bit.

Keep your email short (~150 words), make sure your pitch is short (2-3 pages or less), and get to the point by asking directly about opportunities.

They will ask you for an investment pitch as part of the interview process anyway, so you might as well send it upfront to show that you have the required skills.

Your goal is to set up brief phone calls with professionals, follow up, and contact other funds with the same approach until you get positive responses.

The timing for these off-cycle roles is unpredictable, but you want to be “top of mind” in hedge fund recruiting as soon as something opens up.

Step 3: Prepare for Hedge Fund Interviews

Hedge fund interviews are mostly about one thing: your stock or other investment pitches.

Yes, they could ask about other topics, such as standard “fit” questions, technical questions, your views on the market, your resume walkthrough, and more.

But unlike in investment banking interviews and private equity interviews, where no topic is overwhelmingly the most important one, your success in HF interviews will depend largely on your pitches.

Before we explain that point, here’s a quick overview of the other question categories:

Fit Questions and Resume Walkthrough

Similar to the differences in sales & trading fit questions, you want to demonstrate more of a “market instinct” and risk-taking ability with your responses to these.

You should point to examples of calculated risks you’ve taken in the past, how you thought about risk and potential returns, and how those bets turned out.

Please see our tutorial to buy-side resume walkthroughs as well.

Technical Questions

The most likely topics for standalone technical questions are accounting, 3-statement modeling, and valuation.

Merger models and LBO models are not that relevant for most hedge funds unless the fund happens to use a strategy that is linked to transactions.

If the fund is more specialized (convertible arbitrage, distressed debt, etc.), then you can expect technical questions related to that strategy.

For example, you could easily get questions about how to quickly approximate the Yield to Maturity (YTM) on a specific bond if you interview with a distressed fund.

Deal and Investment Experience

As with your deal experience in private equity interviews, you need to demonstrate a strong view of each of your deals and clients.

For example, if you advised a client on a sale of its company, put yourself on the other side and think about it as an investor: Would you have invested in that company? Why or why not?

If you worked on a debt or convertible bond issuance for a client, would you have invested in the issuance? Why or why not?

For your 2-3 best deals, outline the following points:

  • Yes/no investment decision and brief investment thesis.
  • Potential upside/downside based on a quick valuation.
  • Catalysts that might cause the security’s price to change in-line with your analysis.
  • For “yes” decisions, risk factors and how to mitigate them.
  • For “no” decisions, what might make you change your mind.

Brain Teasers

Some hedge funds, especially ones that use more mathematically complex strategies, like to ask brain teasers.

We don’t focus on this topic here, so you should get a book on the topic if you think they’re likely to come up.

Hedge Fund Stock Pitches (or Other Investment Pitches)

We published a detailed stock pitch guide, so you should review it, look at the examples, and use them to generate and frame your own pitches if you really want to know how to get a job at a hedge fund.

You should spend 80%+ of your interview preparation time on these pitches and aim for the following deliverables:

  • 2-3 pitches total, with at least 1 Long and 1 Short. “Neutral” is not recommended for hedge fund roles unless they give you a specific company and ask for your views on it.
  • Do tailor these pitches to the fund’s strategy and industry, but don’t try to figure out the fund’s current portfolio and pick companies in it. It will be nearly impossible, and it might hurt your chances since they’ll know far more about their portfolio than you.
  • For each pitch, outline the following:
    • Long/Short Recommendation – And give the current price vs. targeted price range.
    • Company or Asset Background – What it does, rough financial stats, etc.
    • Your Investment Thesis – Explain the 2-3 reasons why the asset is mispriced, and how a market correction will change its price.
    • Catalysts – Give the 2-3 events or potential events that will happen within the next 6-12 months that could cause this correction.
    • Valuation – Briefly summarize the output of a DCF and comparable companies; for non-equity pitches, such as distressed debt, you could summarize the recovery percentages in different cases and use them to estimate the bond’s YTM or YTW.
    • Risk Factors and How to Mitigate Them – Explain the 2-3 reasons why you might be wrong, what the worst case looks like, and how you might mitigate the risk with options or other investments.

The pitch itself may be delivered in Word, PowerPoint, or verbally, and it’s usually just the start of a discussion about your idea.

You need to know it like the back of your hand because interviewers will probe you about everything, especially if it’s related to a sector or company they cover.

You can find example stock pitches and other valuation/DCF case studies in our Core Financial Modeling and Advanced Financial Modeling courses.

But if you want a detailed example backed by outside data and research, the Advanced course is a better match:


Advanced Financial Modeling

Learn more complex "on the job" investment banking models and complete private equity, hedge fund, and credit case studies to win buy-side job offers.

learn more

Hedge Fund Case Studies and Modeling Tests

In the hedge fund recruiting process at some funds, you’ll also have to complete a separate case study or modeling test in addition to the stock pitches.

These are usually 3-statement modeling tests, or sometimes DCFs or valuations that require you to project a company’s cash flows.

For example, SAC Capital, the precursor to Point72, used to give interviewees an airline’s financial statements and metrics such as Available Seat Miles (ASM), Load Factor, and Passenger Yield, and asked them to project the airline’s FCF and use it to value the company.

The fund might also give you a specific company’s annual and interim reports and 2-4 hours to research it, build a model/valuation, and make a quick investment recommendation.

To complete these case studies quickly, you need to practice with different industries and companies and build very simple valuations until you can finish in that time frame.

We have many examples of these tests and their solutions in our financial modeling courses, but my main high-level tips would be:

  • Valuations: Don’t go crazy with the projections. You can include 5-10 key revenue, expense, and cash flow drivers, and skip the full 3 statements unless they’re required. It’s 100% plausible to project down to Unlevered Free Cash Flow with simplified assumptions and use that in your valuation. Your DCF, including revenue and expense projections at the top, might have between 100 and 150 rows.
  • 3-Statement Models: Simplify ruthlessly. Consolidate smaller items and aim for a max of 5-7 items on each side of the Balance Sheet. List Debt as a single line item, net all Deferred Tax line items against each other to create one single Net DTA or Net DTL, and consolidate short-term and long-term versions of an item into one single version.

Also, consolidate smaller items on the Cash Flow Statement; Cash Flow from Investing should consist mostly of CapEx and an “Other” item, and CFF should have Share Issuances / (Repurchases), Changes in Debt, Dividends, and little else.

People run into trouble in these case studies when they start worrying about minutiae instead of simplifying, consolidating, and focusing on the 3-5 key value drivers.

Step 4: What Happens After the Interviews

If the fund you’re interviewing with needs someone ASAP, and you perform well in the interviews, you’ll hear back quickly.

If not, or the fund is in no rush to hire, the process could drag on for quite a while.

And if you’re “borderline,” you might not hear back or ever get a definitive answer.

If that happens, or you get an actual “no,” you could try to push back and press your case, as some candidates do in sales & trading interviews.

But for that to work, you must be very confident that they got something specific about you very wrong.

That’s possible, but it’s not that likely if you went through 10-15 interviews.

If you get a positive result and the fund wants to hire you, they will then ask for references – which is a major difference vs. investment banking interviews.

The fund will ask these references question about your skill set, work ethic, and ability to work in a team, and they’ll look for evidence that your real-life performance matches your interview performance.

If you have to give two references, one should be a more senior person you work with indirectly or who has left your firm, and the other can be a peer or someone else who has left.

It is not a good idea to list your current boss as a reference unless you’ve already discussed this move and he/she is very supportive of what you’re doing.

If your references back up what you said in the interview, you’ll win the offer.

Key Takeaways

The hedge fund recruiting process is quite unstructured at the majority of funds.

But if you understand what these funds are looking for, what interviews consist of, and the types of candidates who win offers, you’ll be able to make sense of a random process.

This article was long, so here’s a quick summary of how to get a job at a hedge fund:

  • You stand the best chance of winning Investment Analyst roles at hedge funds if you’re an IB Analyst at a top bank, you did the 2 + 2 path in IB and PE, you’re in equity research at a large bank, you’re on certain sales & trading desks, or you’re a university student who has completed public-markets internships.
  • To get in, you’ll need solid academic credentials, passion for the markets and investing/risk-taking, independent thinking, the ability to be a team player, and emotional stability.
  • The mega-funds use on-cycle recruiting, which starts earlier and earlier each year, and they interview candidates and hand out offers very quickly, targeting primarily 1st Year IB Analysts at the top banks.
  • Mid-sized and smaller funds move more slowly and hire “as needed,” and you can use a combination of networking, online applications, and recruiters to win interviews there.
  • You must be highly specific about the funds you’re targeting in terms of asset class, industry focus, investment strategy, fund size, investment process, location, and so on.
  • You can research these funds via online databases like Capital IQ and Bloomberg, find professionals on LinkedIn and your alumni network, and contact them via email. You’ll also find opportunities on job boards like the ones on SumZero, GoBuySide, Doostang, and Glocap.
  • In interviews, your 2-3 investment pitches are, by far, the most important part. These must be well-thought-out and somewhat tailored to the fund’s strategy, and each one should contain a recommendation, company/asset background, investment thesis, catalysts, valuation, and risk factors.
  • If you do well, you’ll have to provide references after the interviews; if not, keep at it and continue networking and interviewing.

Want More?

If you enjoyed this article and would like to check out something a little different, you might be interested in:

About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys lifting weights, running, traveling, obsessively watching TV shows, and defeating Sauron.

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Read below or Add a comment

  1. Good night, Brian,

    Could you please share your perspective on the value of the CMT certification for entering a hedge fund or an investment bank?

    Thank you very much.

    1. Banks do not care about it at all. HFs may care slightly but it is so minor that it’s far below all the other criteria (grades, university, work experience, accounting/finance knowledge, stock pitches, etc.).

  2. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for this great post.

    Just to confirm when On-Cycle hedge fund recruiting is, you say that this is the same time as large PE firms. From what I’ve read, Large PE firms on cycle is from late August to October, so is this the same time frame for Hedge funds?


    1. Yes, but it changes from year to year, which is why this article doesn’t give the exact timing. It used to start closer to the end of the year for First Year Analysts a long time ago, but PE firms kept pushing it up… and then they delayed it a bit during covid, but now it seems that it’s early again. The large hedge funds roughly follow this, but they’re still less structured overall, and people win roles at different times.

  3. Hello Brian;
    I am an otherwise retired freelance day trader specialized in ES-mini trading. I trade other’s owned individual accounts for them, i.e. 1 individual at a time for a defined period, by contract for mutual gain and I don’t know how to get proper exposure, to such prospective clients.
    I’ve never worked with massive amounts of money, i.e. multi millions of equity and I wouldn’t be able to work for a company, but “I am a very skilled day trader, having mastered what I do over about 40 years”.
    I have made 10% up to over 100% equity gains “in a single or extended trading session” on accounts ranging $20,000 to over $1,000,000. Can you offer any advice which might help me locate individual clients Sir?

    1. I’m sorry, but I can’t offer you any advice here because we don’t really advise on that topic (finding clients for your trading services) on this site. But I would probably start by reaching out to local wealth management firms and groups and seeing if any of them might have clients who are looking for occasional “active trading” services.

  4. Hi Brian,
    I am thinking about reaching out to a local hedge fund whose strategy I personally resonate with (long value), whose founder I have very high regard for. It seems like an ideal place to work and learn the ropes for me.

    They have an email address on their website for employment inquiries. I am not confident in my own abilities, however. A few months ago they have an opening for an analyst role that required at least four years of relevant equity research experience and asked applicants to send resume and sample research report to that email address.

    And me? I don’t have any finance experience. So far I only have some academic and data science R&D type of experience. The only thing I have to show for is the CFA Level I that I passed earlier this year. I have also gone through your modeling course Case #5: Equity Research / Asset Management / Hedge Fund on pretty much everything other than Module 5, 8, 9 (I skipped some lessons whole doing some that are optional). I have never written a research report, and I know I am bad at written communication, so I definitely need to improve on that, as well as idea generation to pitch investments (one of the the thing they look for in the analyst role is “credible track record in identifying investment opportunities”).

    I am a little lost in what to do, though. Therefore, I am wondering if you have some ideas of what sort of concrete, structured, actionable steps that I could take to approach this. Highly appreciated.

    1. The best thing to do here is to ignore the work experience requirement, research and write your own stock pitch, and submit it to them anyway. If they’re unresponsive or say that you need more experience, use it to apply to other jobs instead (entry-level ER, other HFs, maybe asset management). Do not spend more than a week selecting your company and building a simple valuation and stock pitch for it (at most, maybe a ~200-row DCF with most attention paid to the revenue and expense drivers).

      If you don’t get a response, try again, and also reach out to other, similar firms as well as the ER and related roles. In the meantime, keep researching other companies and come up with 1-2 other ideas so that you can submit your work to other positions you apply for.

  5. Can one get into HF from VC?

    1. It’s unlikely unless you find a hedge fund that focuses on tech or operates more like a VC by investing in early-stage companies.

  6. Justin Ngai

    I went through the HF jobs in your article on types of HF. 85+% of jobs require a quantitative degree. Are most HFs leaning towards quants? Because your article here seems to put more weight on IB/PE/MBA as ways to get in.

    1. I would not say that. It may be the case that many *advertised* HF jobs require or prefer quantitative degrees, but many HF jobs are unadvertised and are filled via word of mouth, networking, recruiters, etc. Almost any finance firm will value quantitative degrees more than liberal arts/non-quant degrees, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re “required” to get in.

      Also, it depends on the type of job and type of funds you’re looking at. Obviously quant funds and many macro funds will want someone with more of a math/stats background, but for something like long/short equity, your knowledge of accounting and the financial statements matter a lot more.

    2. I come from a quant background (did a MFE in a Top 10 program) and kind of agree with Brian. If you are targeting on top quant funds and want to be a Quant Trader or Quant Researcher, you should definitely consider getting a PhD in math or physics from a top program to have an edge in recruiting at these places, or at least a MFE/MFM from a top school. The math and stats and programming skills required at quant funds are insane, and from my experience, you got little chance to get in if you didn’t study engineering, math, stats, cs, or physics in college. However, there are still a lot of funds focusing on long/short investing that lean more on evaluating individual companies based on company fundamentals instead of using mathematic models and statistical techniques to extract and analyze signals from the markets. These long/short investing funds also use a lot of data and need you to have some degree of quantitative skills. It’s just the quantitative skills they require are not as rigorous as a quant fund would need. I think people should figure out first what kind of HF they want to work at and what kind of HF analyst they want to be. Then they can work towards that direction.

  7. Hi, Brian! If I’m about to do an MBA at a M7 school and want to recruit for HF, what path would give me a better chance? Recruit for IB associate role first and then move into HF, or do equity research and then HF? Thank you!

    1. Probably the IB Associate path because you’ll be better prepared for a slightly wider range of HFs.

      1. Thanks, Brian! One more question, do HFs prefer IB analysts to IB associates?

        1. Yes. It’s possible to win buy-side roles as an associate but more difficult.

          1. Thanks, Brian! Appreciate your insights!

          2. Brian, very specific question but I’d like to hear your opinion in this. Say I’m an analyst with 3 years experience at one of the “Inbetween-a-banks” (nearly bulge brackets, as you designated them) in Europe. I then do an MBA at a target school for high finance jobs in the US. Should I apply for top/mega HF jobs right after the MBA or go to a BB bank (research or investment banking, please tell me which one would be best) and then from there move to a top/mega HF? Also what position should I be gunning towards at an HF? Analyst? What are my chances of getting this if this is my profile? Thank you in advance.

          3. In general, an MBA is not a great path into most hedge fund roles (given the time and money required for the degree). It can be good for the large funds that do some on-campus recruiting if you want to go that route, but most of the smaller funds rely on headhunters or informal networking/referrals to find candidates, and they don’t necessarily like the MBA degree or view it favorably (vs. work experience, investment pitches, etc.).

            If you’ve worked in IB at an In-Between-a-Bank (not quite BB category) and want to do an MBA and then go to a hedge fund, you should just recruit for hedge fund roles directly. You would still be joining as an Analyst because the hierarchy is different (see the HF career path article).

            If you have *not* worked in IB at this IBAB, then you should do IB or ER first and then apply for HF roles from there.

  8. For the long pitches, does it matter if you pitch a stock that everyone knows (i.e. Facebook, Amazon, etc.)? Assuming you have a good reason to invest, would this hurt your “long pitch” answer?

    On the one hand, they’ve heard about this stock before so it’s not super unique, but then again the purpose of a hedge fund isn’t to be unique, it’s to make money.

    1. It’s not a great idea to pick a well-known stock. You can, but it’s almost like getting into a discussion of politics or religion with someone: everyone has such strong views that you’re fighting an uphill battle if you say something that goes against their views. Also, you’ll have to answer more difficult questions if it’s a big company that the other person has researched in-depth.

  9. Hi Brian,
    I am a recent University Graduate, and would like to get a spot at a Hedge Fund as an Analyst. I have a very strong understanding of the markets and how to financial model. I am 23 years old and am no expert by any means, but am a fast learner and an extreme hard, diligent, and faced paced worker. I turned down a few offer from big banks that would have lead me on the financial ,advising route. This is do to to the fact that I am passionate about the Investment and Analyst side. I spent may summers working as a caddie Networking with some Fund Managers. If I want a position as a Hedge Fund Analyst, where should I start?
    Should I start in IB, and gain some experience. What is the job title I should be looking for with my aspirations at my skill level and age.

    1. Starting in IB is usually the best bet for eventually working at a hedge fund, but if you’ve already graduated, that may not be a realistic option. I would review this article:

  10. Kevin Tanner


    I am an Analyst at a HF FOF. I’ve heard the role isn’t the best to transition into HFs, but I have my own blog where I pitch investment ideas in addition to doing in depth analysis on fund holdings at work. Would you say it is realistic for me to pitch myself if I have a specific sector and strategy in mind? Also, I was wondering if it is realistic to aim for Bus Dev/Strategy roles at tech firms or startups and VC funds as well with those being long term interests of mine? Sorry for the long note but appreciate any advice. Thanks!

    1. FoF roles are generally not good for moving to the direct side, but it depends on how many co-investments you’ve worked on (if you’ve done that). I don’t think they’ll care much about your personal blog, but if you can spin some of your work there as being related to your current job, it might work. I think business development/strategy at tech firms might be a stretch, but maybe if you can find a fintech startup or something finance-related, that might work. VC would be somewhat easier.

      1. Kevin Tanner

        Thank you for your insight. I have been networking for VC opportunities through the advice I found in your other article but have found it largely difficult to get offers with the smaller size of the field and the current environment. In my current position, what would generally be good exit opportunities for me? I generally like what I do but feel the role is too relaxed and doesn’t have much growth ahead for me even being at a well-known institution. Appreciate your help.

        1. Pension funds, other types of funds of funds, and maybe something like family offices. Moving to the direct side is possible sometimes, but as I said above, it really depends on your experience and the current market. A family office might be something to consider if you haven’t already thought of it.

          1. Kevin Tanner

            Got it, so you would say other than networking and attempting to do the best I can to get into a HF or VC, my best bet is to get an MBA if I am unable to get in directly? This is of course not assuming I stick to the investment fund path. I actually really enjoy the investing aspect on the buy-side, I’m just not sure if it’s good for my career trajectory with me being very young in terms of upside/growth.

  11. Hi Brian,
    International student here.
    I go to a school which is a non-target for HF but is a semi target for IB and has a specialized program to land people into IB FO roles. I just finished my freshman year and had a FP&A and a banking internship at boutiques in a different country. I was wondering how I can best position myself for a HF job out of undergrad.

    1. Network aggressively, focus on a specific strategy and fund type, and keep investing and coming up with pitches. Aim to intern at the larger funds that actually hire directly out of undergrad so you don’t have to go through IB or another role first. You will have to be extremely proactive with cold-emailing and reaching out to people on LinkedIn.

  12. Would some one with corporate development have a shot at breaking into AM/HF? Or should they consider IB/ER first

    1. It would be tough unless you aim for a merger arbitrage fund or some other fund type where your deals background is useful. Your chances would be higher in IB, followed by ER.

      1. Thanks, would one with a more introverted and analytical-minded personality be better off suited in the AM/HF path despite the declining outlook of the industry?

        Lately I’ve been reflecting on my own personality, strengths and weaknesses and which finance role would best suit (could be a good article write-up idea too – on which personality types excel at which roles for those still finding their ideal career/path)

        For example, though my strengths and personality may suit an analyst / associate role for investment banking – to exceed past this one must really excel at sales / relationships. This also applies to private equity / corporate development where the more senior you become the more relationship building, process driven skills are required to excel which extroverts may have an upper hand on.

        However, one which would prefer to focus on raw intellect, reading, analysis, investing, may prefer AM/HF – of course there will still be a human element to it but won’t be a predominant factor to excel

        1. Yes, possibly, but again, it all depends on the fund type/style and culture. There’s much more variety among HFs than there is among IB/PE firms since the people come from broader backgrounds.

  13. LikeTrading

    Hi Brian,
    You mentioned that certain desks in S&T are a good fit for hedge fund. What about exotic equity derivatives trading ? (i.e., also known as structured products) Do they stand a good chance?

    1. Yes, but probably more for execution trading roles than investment analysis roles – unless the fund specifically invests in equity derivatives and is not just using them for hedging purposes.

  14. Donald Jay

    Why did you put buyside equity research analysts behind I-Bankers and sell-side equity research analysts? I accepted an offer from Fidelity/Blackrock in investment research turning down several IB offers from top EBs and an equity research offer from (GS/MS/JPM) as I thought I would have a better shot at hedge funds. Did I make a mistake? I still have the opportunity to reneg and go to IB, should I?

    1. I’m not sure they’re “behind” bankers or sell-side analysts. They were at #3 in that list just because there aren’t as many of them, and we ranked the list roughly by the number of professionals that get into hedge funds. I would say you have as good a chance at Investment Analyst roles as bankers at top firms; it’s just that bankers have better access to deal-based exit opportunities such as private equity.

      I don’t think you should renege on your offer unless you suddenly decide against hedge funds and decide that you want to do PE or VC instead.

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