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Answers to your questions:
- At best, the gap year won’t have a negative impact on your candidacy for a real estate private equity analyst job. At worst, people will question exactly why you took a year off from a decent job. To hedge against the worst case scenario, you need to spin your gap year experience in as positive a light as possible. You need to give as much evidence as possible that you are not a flight risk and will stick around for the long haul. You can prove that in two ways. First, don’t mention anything negative about your prior job, burnout, or lack of motivation. Rather, focus on positive elements. You’re dying to break into a real estate private equity career, you’ve spent the time off studying, you had some great volunteer experiences, you left your previous job on amazing terms and have a standing offer to return. Obviously, stick to the truth, but make sure your resume obviously paints a similar narrative so you are not screened out of the pack before you even make it to the real estate private equity interview process.
- Yes, so long as you’re targeting the analyst role, prior experience is great. Doubly so if you have glowing recommendations from former colleagues.
- Technical skills like Argus are great, but they won’t set you apart from the pack. Most of the resumes I review have Argus training. At my fund, the senior guys are most impressed by people who actually follow real estate private equity industry news and can speak to the market narrative. For instance, at my fund, we recently had to pick between two real estate private equity analyst candidates. One had excellent technical skills but didn’t sell us on their passion for real estate, and the other had decent technical skills (with clear potential to become excellent) but had an awesome investment thesis pitch and could speak to every REIT and each local real estate market. If you want to get to this level, I suggest reading through earnings call transcripts (available on SeekingAlpha for most major REITs) to get a sense for the competitive landscape, reading some of the real estate news sites mentioned in my post “What is it like being a real estate private equity analyst?,” and studying the rationale behind major recent deals.
- Most real estate private equity analysts are between 24 through 26 years old, but there is no hard upper limit. I’d say just do not appear eager for a promotion. We nixed a candidate from our real estate private equity analyst interview process who was a bit more senior and who had mentioned an impending promotion twice during the interview. When a fund is hiring an analyst, they want to make that person is okay with that position for the proper amount of time. So don’t appear eager to be promoted above analyst, and make it clear that you’re excited for the work at that level.
Additional comments, I’d definitely continue to highlight your family’s deep connection to real estate. With your alternative, non-real estate professional background, you need to do all you can do to demonstrate a clear passion for real estate. You need to know the markets cold, and you need to demonstrate an innate passion for the industry. As a full-stop career switcher, make sure your narrative clearly demonstrates why you have always been passionate about launching a real estate private equity career and why now is the right time.
Happy to answer any follow-up you may have, or provide further clarity where necessary. Thanks for joining us here at Leveraged Breakdowns!