As we start another week of working from home here at Stem7, we wanted to share some insights into the experience of starting a new job in Private Equity from home, including completing an interview process. We have spoken to a few of our recently placed candidates to find out what it has really been like for them.
Where things have gone well:
One of our most recently placed candidates, whom we have moved from a top Investment Bank to a leading Private Equity firm at Associate level, had one face-to-face interview the week before lockdown and has subsequently completed the rest of the process through video conferencing. This included numerous interviews with the team and also a controlled modelling test where they had to log in to a remote desktop for two hours. The candidate then received an offer which they were delighted to accept. This was a relatively smooth process as the candidate was keen on the role from the start and the offer exceeded expectations.
Where it has been harder:
Where our candidates have found the lack of face to face contact more challenging has been at the end of the process where there has been a difference of expectations on salary. For example, we have recently placed a senior Director into an Infrastructure Fund, and as the process moved to the offer stage, the client and the candidate were some way apart on compensation. This created a challenging situation for the candidate as they wanted to convey their enthusiasm for the role and willingness to make things work but also have a robust discussion on money. The candidate was concerned that, by having these discussions on a Zoom call with the inevitable awkward silences we have all experienced in recent times, they might not get the tone of their message quite right. In the end, the candidate and the client were able to meet in the middle but the lack of face to face dialogue made the negotiation more delicate than usual.
Where have we seen delays:
Another candidate we have moved at Analyst level to a large Alternative Investor had to wait an extra three weeks for their background checks to be completed so they could resign. This was because the company that conducts these checks on behalf of their new employer was running at reduced capacity. The period between accepting an offer and resigning is always a challenging time for our candidates. They have to remain enthusiastic in their current role (not always easy when you are working into the early hours each day) and are also often involved in staffing discussions for future projects which, given plans to resign, is always rather awkward. Candidates are always keen for this period to be as short as possible so having to wait an extra three weeks was an uncomfortable experience for them.
Resignations from home:
The resignation process has created mixed emotions for our candidates. Some have found resigning remotely easier and less nerve-wracking. Others would have much preferred to explain their decisions face to face out of respect for their current employers. A few of our candidates have had good-bye drinks over Zoom but many of our placed candidates in this time have not had the chance to say proper farewells.
First days in a new role:
For the candidates who have started new roles working from home, the experience has been mostly positive. One candidate, who started with a Venture Capital firm at the end of April, received a new phone and laptop in the post the week before they started and were ready to go for their first day. While the candidate in question admitted that two days of back-to-back Zoom calls was quite exhausting, it has helped them understand their new environment. Another candidate that we have placed recently into a Real Estate fund sees remote onboarding as a real positive. They can spend the next few weeks learning about the business and be ready to hit the ground running when they finally make it into the office. It has definitely felt different for our candidates but it is working well so far.
It remains to be seen what impact “the new normal” has on candidates who are starting positions at this time. If someone has been working for a company remotely for a few weeks but not actually been into the office, will they be treated as a new recruit when they finally arrive? And what about the emotive impact for candidates? Many of our placed candidates regard spending time with their new team socially or making introductions by the coffee machine as key to feeling comfortable in their new surroundings. So far, our clients have managed the practical side of remote onboarding very efficiently. As they return to the office, it will be interesting to see how quickly our new joiners feel like part of the team while social activity is on hold and we all need to keep our distance.