Private equity recruiting is stressful. To help make things a little easier, here’s a curated list of headhunter coverage by firm, including Henkel Search Partners, CPI, Ratio Advisors, Amity Search Partners, Dynamics Search Partners, CarterPierce, Gold Coast Search Partners, BellCast Partners, SG Partners, The Oxbridge Group, and Opus Advisors. They’re the key to breaking into the industry, so be ready to go when you interact with them.
The client lists here are based on circulated lists, outreach emails received, and publicly available info. Please send us a note if you notice any outdated entries (firms tend to bounce around fequently).
Also, note that each firm likely has many more clients than what’s listed here. Most of this page is comprised of mega fund, upper middle market, and well-known middle market names, but there are countless other firms covered across the middle market and lower middle market. Many of these headhunters will also have venture capital and hedge fund roles as well.
Henkel Search Partners
Generally one of the top-tier headhunters with a very strong client list. They’re also pleasant to work with and we've always had a good experience with them. Definitely reach out, but save them for the end of your initial headhunter meetings so you have a chance to really tighten up your story and presentation.
I Squared Capital
CPI is the same tier as Henkel and has a great client list. The same advice about waiting to meet with them applies, as it’s another relationship you should prioritize. CPI has been known to occasionally ask candidates to complete quick paper LBOs in the initial meeting, so don’t go in completely unprepared.
Hadley Harbor (Wellington Management)
Ratio has a reasonably strong client list with a few marquee names, especially for ‘growthier’ firms. We've personally had less-than-ideal experiences with them, but it all depends which recruiter you talk to.
Centana Growth Partners
Amity Search Partners
Amity is always great to work with, but has less of a blue-chip client base than the prior names. If you’re interested in targeting the middle market or lower middle market you should prioritize Amity (they have a lot of smaller names not listed here).
Founders Circle Capital
Dynamics Search Partners
Dynamics is typically more focused on hedge fund recruiting, but does have a smaller list of high-profile buyout firms.
A smaller firm than some of the earlier entries, but still with a number of strong names. We've always had positive interactions with them and have had a few recruiters go out of their way to be helpful.
Gold Coast Search Partners
Unfortunately, we don’t have much commentary here. Another smaller name but with some stronger tech-focused coverage than other shops on this list.
Typically more focused on the middle market, but, in our opinion, offers a higher-touch experience for candidates that makes things more pleasant (especially if you’re deep in a process).
Brightstar Capital Partners
Emerald Lake Capital Management
More limited coverage than others, but they do have a Blackstone relationship. They tend to have very deep merchant banking coverage, so if you’re interested in that, this is the place to look. They also have a bunch of more niche boutique banking roles, such as Centerview, Allen & Co., and Dyal.
Centerview (investment banking)
The Oxbridge Group
More focused on the middle market and seem to have a high volume of opportunities. They also have a stronger hedge fund presence than others.
Opus doesn’t have a ton of coverage and it’s not somewhere I would necessarily prioritize. They do love to push the L Catterton connection when you speak with them.
There are a few other firms that dabble in private equity recruiting. Generally, they’re not worth your time. But if you’re struggling to land a seat, it can’t hurt to connect with them.
We've always thought Pinpoint Partners was a scam, but we did recently meet an associate at a reputable middle market firm who swears they facilitated his lateral move. We're shocked, but if you’re desperate it may be worth removing them from your spam folder.
Be aware that client lists tend to change rapidly. Private equity professionals are a fickle group, so they have no qualms about swapping out one headhunter for another. Drop us a note if you see anything that should be updated.
Now go kick off your recruiting preparations and get your headhunter meetings on the calendar.