Persistence Pays Off for Hedge Fund Job Hunting

If you’ve been trying to get your foot in the door at a particular hedge fund job, you might take a look at James Altucher’s brief tale of how he pursued the “holy grail” … a hedge fund job at Steve Cohen’s SAC, according to recent post on DealBreaker.

We usually only hear about the standard methods for landing a hedge fund job, such as having the right connections, sending in a resume, or impressing representatives of the firm when they visit your B-school. But, as DealBreaker columnist Bess Levin remarks, we don’t often hear of the more unorthodox approaches, such as Altucher’s.

In 2004, Altucher was a well-known columnist at and successful, if somewhat constrained, investor, trading roughly $27 million allocated to him from various hedge funds and investors. He claims it was hard to build his business beyond that point, so he set out to join SAC Capital, the biggest hedge fund in the world.

At first he emailed Cohen. When that didn’t work, Altucher tried 30 different combinations of possible email addresses, such as, etc., hoping one would get through. He heard nothing. So he kept it up, month after month, for nearly a year. Finally, a response came back, “What’s your IM.” Suddenly, Altucher was in a position to start instant messaging with one of the world’s top hedge fund managers.

“Not knowing exactly when you’ll be on the receiving end of an IM from [Cohen] it’s important to have your pick-up line ready, unless you’re really good at riffing and think he’s interested in the random links and clips you’ve recently come across. State your purpose. I explained my approach and he wanted to meet,” Altucher writes.

Altucher soon met face to face with Cohen at his Stamford, CT offices. He proposed how it’s hard to trade, raise money, and manage a hedge fund business at the same time. The economics would be better if he was simply managing money for SAC. Cohen agreed, and suggested that Altucher should send him an instant message before every trade for the next few weeks, so Cohen could monitor his track record in real time.

The story doesn’t have a happy ending. Although he’d had nearly a year of winning trades, once he started this arrangement with Cohen, his trading momentum changed. He had eight losing trades in a row. He lost confidence, and the chance of a deal with Cohen crumbled.

“I was totally disheartened. It was like being impotent and telling the girl, “this has never happened to me before.” Stevie Cohen was THAT GIRL,” writes Altucher.The point of all this is not so much trading success, as a look at how persistence can and will pay off if you want to develop opportunities in hedge funds. How you handle that opportunity is another matter.

What’s the most unorthodox way of securing a hedge fund job interview that you’ve ever heard of? Add your comments below.

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