Pre-VC career tips part 1 — Which VC funds might be hiring?
I often get asked by people on how they can improve their chances of getting into VC.
Below I have started to summarise my advice on how to best prepare yourself “before making the move to Venture Capital”, based more or less on my own experiences and journey from Consultancy to Startup to Investment-fund over the last few years.
“The secret to getting ahead is getting started” ― Mark Twain
Part 1 - Identify job openings ahead of time
It is no secret that there are only a few junior VC jobs out there. I estimate ~100 non-partner VC roles across the main funds in Western Europe, but since most of these investors seem to enjoy their job, the turnover is low and as a result new openings are particularly rare.
What that means for aspiring investors is that one needs to be following the job openings proactively over a period of time and react as soon as something opens up versus just looking around for openings when trying to make a move.
It also means that most vacancies for Associate roles don’t make it to a public posting or job board as they tend to get filled quickly with an already strong candidate pipeline many funds have via their network and via specialised recruiters.
But just emailing every fund asking whether they are currently looking for someone is probably also a bad idea; the best time to reach out to VCs is when they are likely looking for someone new, typically when someone junior on the investment team is on the way out to a new company. VCs also sometimes increase their team when they have just raised a new, larger than before fund, but more often then not it’s too late when you can read about it on TechCrunch.
Overall, it is probably worth mentioning that cold emails to the talent manager of the VC or members of the investment team have a lower hitrate, even when the fund is likely to be looking for someone new. Just like when entrepreneurs want to reach out to VCs for fundraising, the most effective way of getting attention is via an introduction through someone they already know (LinkedIn works well to find mutual connections).
The following sources, beyond the websites of VC funds of course, should be useful in identifying as many (potential) openings as early as possible:
Recruiters with focus on Venture Capital usually know of the handful of funds in their target geography that are currently looking for a new Analyst/Associate/Principal. Some (like PE Recruit) even post more or less anonymised job descriptions on their internal websites.
You can check LinkedIn for employees in any of the below firms and let your mutual connections do the first step or reaching out:
- In Europe, KEA Consultants and PE Recruit are the main sources for VC roles. SPKsearch, Pinpoint Partners, The Up Group, Badenoch & Clark, Blackwood and Egon Zehnder are other good sources for venture roles.
- In the US it seems CPI, Oxbridge Group and Glocap have a steady flow of Venture Capital roles
- If you know of any other high quality search firms in these or other geographies please get in touch so I can add them here
Occasionally job openings also appear on Twitter, so following a few people in the tech and VC community is probably a good idea. It is worth noting that I came across my current job at Wellington Partners via a tweet from Ben Rooney back in 2013.
Another way to see where new openings are or might become available is to try to keep an eye on the movements of existing junior investors: By following some or all members of this curated list of junior VCs in Europe, combined with activating bioIsChanged on your Twitter account you can get a RSS feed or daily email with details on who of your Twitter followers changed their profile text. This can lead to interesting insights about who is moving on from their job quite a bit earlier than the official LinkedIn or fund announcements (look out for changes such as “Associate at Fund X” to “Early Stage Investor”).
In February 2016 I launched the European VC job newsletter (1600+ subscribers). For US roles there is John Gannon’s newsletter and the occasional update from Christina Cacioppo (ex-VC at USV) called VC Gigs.
Sometimes the Venture Capital newsletters covering recent funding news also include job openings. The following 2 are free to subscribe and while generally a good source of information for future (as well as current) investors they are also the only 2 of the many free VC newsletters that sometimes include data useful for job seekers:
- StrictlyVC by Connie Loizos occasionally includes junior (mostly US focussed) VC job postings at the end
- Termsheet by Dan Primack has a section at the end where new fund announcements and people movements are highlighted. This can be a useful, but is probably a slightly lagging indicator of job availability
In future sections of this blog post I plan to include tips on how to:
Collect skills useful for junior investors (reporting, networking, coding, recruiting)
Build a social media profile & opinions on technology trends
Join a startup as an employee if you plan to become a VC later on
Other interesting reads in the meantime:
Overview of VC roles and how to land a job in each by Rob Moffat at Balderton (2015):
For people with finance background:
General tips from Brittany Laughlin at USV (2015):
General tips from Adam Ludwin when he was at RRE Ventures (2011):
Another list of links: