Hacks For Those Hard-To-Get Job Offers


A Blackstone Client Experience

I wanted to talk to you for a moment about how to get into those harder to get into firms, and one of those that comes to mind is Blackstone

Recently, I had a student go from zero prior finance experience into Blackstone, and I wanted to tell you a little bit about what that experience is like. If you are interested at some point in moving into one of those kinds of secretive or challenging firms you might find this useful. 

When exploring companies of interest, I always like to develop a target company list - a target list of companies. Ask yourself, where do you want to work? Having that focus is super important and will help you get into these harder to get into firms.

Researching a Company

Let’s look at Blackstone. What we always want to do when we first take a look at a company is going to their website, and when you jump into the website, you see across the top a number of different things that you could research. 

For example, an overview about the company or who their investors are, or who their people are. This is something that you absolutely want to research before you go into any conversations with the firm because they might make some reference to their CEO or one of their bigger deals made recently. 

If you didn't know that that was a thing, then there would be an immediate signal that you probably hadn't done your homework. 

“We want to go into the website and do research.”

If you're interested in breaking into a harder to get into a company, at least research the background here that they're sharing with you publicly, but it's not enough to know this. 

I've actually made the mistake of just reading what was on the website of a company and knowing it really well, but then, I didn’t prepare that well for the interview and didn’t know anybody in the firm, and didn’t do any networking within - that doesn't work out either. 

We want to have a balance to things, but starting here - it’s a good place to start. If you are curious about what Blackstone does you can just scroll down half a page and you'll see that they have all these different businesses. They have real estate, private equity, hedge fund solutions, and credit and insurance. These are all the areas within Blackstone that you might be active in.

Getting The Most Out Of A Job Description

If we wanted to just see what was going on in careers, we could just go over to their careers page - we see 284 results. Some of those are going to be for experienced people - people looking for a senior vice president role, and then they're going to have other roles like finance, global tax compliance, private equity associates... Then they're going to have other things which are more, what we call client-facing or investment roles.

You could be applying to those roles right now and reaching out to people within Blackstone to develop a referral.

Let’s take a look at a summer associate position in a legal and compliance role for example.

Looking at the job description - and this could be a good time to talk about just how to understand a job description because apart from my career accelerator clients I don't see people really understanding how to absorb and process a job description - the first thing to keep in mind as we go through this Blackstone job description is that they're putting the most important stuff first and the least important last. 

If you are going to apply to Blackstone and craft a cover letter or talk about why you're a good fit, the best way to go is to feature why you're a good fit for the things at the top, and not so much the things at the bottom. 

When we talk about a job description, they're always going to describe something about the berm at the beginning, and then they're going to go down and talk about specifically the team and the organization. Next, they're going to go and talk about the specific role and the job description.

Here, they're looking for a couple of things in particular - looking for somebody with experience specifically working collaboratively and productively with lawyers, compliance professionals, and business professionals. 

Where in your experience have you worked with lawyers and compliance professionals to achieve an outcome? That's the first thing they're looking for, and if you were going to apply to this job because you are a fit, you would want to try to emphasize why you're a good fit for these first three or four bullet points. 

You don't have to be fit for all of them here. If you were a fit for just the top three, that would be more than enough for you to apply, and that applies to a company in a role like this, which is a law student-focused role, but it could be for any entry-level role. 

If you want to apply, focus on why you're a fit to reflect, say the top three or four bullet points, that would be sufficient, and then if you go down here further, you see something called qualifications, which can be a confusing spot for a lot of people in a job description. 

They say… Well, I'm a current law student, or I'm a current undergraduate, I have strong grades. But when they apply to jobs like this, they emphasize the qualifications, the stuff at the bottom, the stuff that everyone is expected to already have, and it's hard to stand out.

Instead say: “Hey, I've got great grades, I've got great, critical attention to detail and analytic skills.” - that way they're really gonna see the fit between you and that role. They're going to go up here and see that you are able to address the responsibilities.

If you were interested in applying to a role at Blackstone or literally anywhere, you would want to craft your approach, emphasizing your fit for the things at the top of the job description, and then understand that the things at the bottom are just basically the minimum things that people are expecting you to bring. 

If you're looking to work at Blackstone, you would want to go in and look at their information about their businesses. They're a publicly listed company and they're going to have a wealth of information in their annual report - you'd want to read that most recent annual report and visit their investor relations area. Usually, when you go into a firm, you can look to the direct bottom and find among press releases. 

You can always go and look at their news and their investor relations page. These are all important things to look at.

The Importance of Networking

One of my students attended Washington University, which is a good school but it's not a target for Blackstone, and he came into that from a program in Taiwan and he had no prior finance experience whatsoever - but he wanted to work in investment banking. 

What he did as a corporate finance and investment student was a project from his school, which kind of got something on his resume. It was basically a required course that gave him some experience with a firm. 

In February of 2018, long after recruiting was over, he was about to graduate and he needed some sort of investment banking experience. 

He was past all the recruiting deadlines for the big firms and really if you're in that situation where you have no finance experience whatsoever, no banking experience, but you want to be a banker - it's good to just get any kind of experience on the resume, literally anything. 

In this case, I worked with this individual to get an internship in Capstone Partners, which is a nationally recognized investment banking firm - not the biggest, not famous, not the top bulge brackets, but he started to get some experience - and for this individual, this was a challenge. 

He went through some culture shock, let's say from having no experience working in banking, but I was with him and I worked with him through it. As a result of that, he was able to get a full-time job in New York City as a financial analyst with a firm. 

He worked there for a period of two years, almost three years, and by that time he was more familiar with the way business works, the professional language, and how to behave in a professional setting and through networking

He met people at Blackstone and he applied - I didn't actually have anything to do with his actual direct experience at that time. His work with Blackstone; he did that on his own, using the concepts and principles that he learned as a member of the Career Accelerator Program

“As a result, he got this internship using our methods and strategies, and then got this full-time job with no prior work experience.”

I think the prior experience was having worked as a summer camp counselor in Taiwan before coming to the United States and then getting that breakthrough investment banking internship. It didn't have to be with JP Morgan, although we've had people getting into JP Morgan through this program, it doesn't have to be a THAT experience or a Goldman Sachs experience to really be meaningful for you and get you moving in the direction that you want to go. 


The trick here is networking, understanding a little bit about how the company works is key, and then knowing people inside the firm in this industry. Often, the companies will reach out to the current investment banking analysts, the new joiners, and let them know that they might like to have them come and join the company. They will arrive at an understanding and do that recruiting actually two years in advance. That's one way. 

Another way is this lateral hire where you might've been working and you go through your networking, you learn about an open spot. Outside of recruiting, there are always people coming and going in these seats in these firms, and if you are networking, if you are aware that someone has left a role and you are known to that team, you may be invited to fill that spot very quickly. 

“If someone leaves a role at Blackstone for any reason, and you're part of that networking that the team has been doing, then you may be invited to join very quickly.”

So this has been a little bit of an appeal back the curtain on how to understand Blackstone at a very basic level. Just really introducing the idea of Blackstone and what it does, and then looking at a job description and then understanding that it is very much possible to go from zero work experience into finance or whatever analytics you want to work at Tesla or Google, or you can go from no experience into a related role.


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