The surest way to get a job or promotion is to provide value. It sounds simple, but I see people going about it in the wrong ways.

Just this week a friend told me he was going to email a hedge fund he respected and offer to work for free. He wanted to work for free to demonstrate his skills before asking for a job. His plan was to email them and ask what work he could do for them.

It missed the mark.

Imagine you’re a busy portfolio manager who is in control of hundreds of millions of dollars of positions. You’re constantly checking charts, reading the news, and managing your limited partners. While going through your day you get an email from a young analyst who offers to work for free. You think great, but you’re not sure what to have him do. You’ll get back to that email later… 

Now imagine if you get an email from that same analyst with five companies that he thinks might be worth investing in based upon your fund’s strategy. He offers to do a full analysis on one of them. You quickly shoot off an email telling him which one interests you most.

Do you see the difference? 

In one you’re asking for work. In the other you’re providing value up front and showing you understand the limited bandwidth of a busy portfolio manager.

Think about how you’re positioning yourself and your asks. When you’re looking to move up start by providing insane value, without waiting for someone to give you instructions. 


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