“Breaking into VC”: don’t make it harder than it is

mfw applicants ‘would like to express interest in gaining experience at FUND XXX’. Image borrowed from here.

SuperSeed Ventures is hiring an intern, and we’ve had lots of applications from highly qualified candidates with lots of relevant experience.

Is it hard to ‘break into VC’? Yes, sure. But sadly, some of the (super bright) applicants have made it even harder for themselves. Impossible, in fact.

I used to have a teacher at a school that has since closed down (unrelated) who used to tell us to RTFQ and ATFQ. Read, and Answer, the question. The ‘F’ was for ‘Full’, I think?

57 of the applicants to SuperSeed’s internship have fallen at the first hurdle by not reading or responding to the details of the posting fully, which included a very simple request: to include a draft of a job description for the role for which they were applying.

It may seem trivial, but MBA grads and Masters of Finance have deselected themselves by failing to read or, worse, ignoring the small-print.

Of the 30-or-so profiles who did include a supporting document that wasn’t a CV, a few examples have really stood out. In good examples, a specific, relevant covering letter accompanied an accurate, succinct description of the responsibilities of a VC intern. The odd joke even cropped up.

In bad examples:

  1. There was a file named “finance-vc-pe-coverletter.pdf”, which was exactly as specific as you’d imagine;
  2. There were countless examples of “why this role would benefit me and why I want it”. What about the value you’d add, rather than just what you’d take away?;
  3. There were a few (yes, actually more than 1) in which the woefully generic CL’s *insert fund name* references hadn’t been updated properly (i.e., “…and this is why I would be interested in a position at FUND NAME XXX”. Literally.); and
  4. A few candidates wrote — at length — about topics, themes, and business areas that sadly bear no relevance to our (quite specific and very public) investment thesis.

It’s clear that there are many creative and unique ways to write a bad application. A good starting point to write a good one, though, would be to:

  1. Read, re-read, and re-re-read the listing to make sure there aren’t any pesky hidden calls to action (or indeed any in bold written at the bottom 🙃);
  2. Be specific. Nobody likes to think of themselves as ‘one of’ your Tinder matches; and seldom do “Hi there xx”s progress to dates. To be totally honest, I did laugh when I saw that highly generic file name, but it was a pretty easy thumbs down;
  3. Be relevant. There’s no need to write pages and pages, even less so when the content isn’t even tangentially related to the application or the fund in general. Oboe Grade 2 doth not a good analyst make.

It’s pretty amazing how much a good application stands out. Anyone who has hired before knows the involuntary smile a 10/10 application causes. There have been a few applications which were really, really good, albeit not quite right for SuperSeed, and for those, I have — in true VC style — tried to be as helpful as possible.

Some great candidates have heard from me already, but anyone is still welcome to apply. If you know any whip-smart hustlers looking to get meaningful experience in a really amazing fund at a tremendously exciting stage, please send them my way, or point them in the direction of the job listing.

Just make sure they read it 😉.

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