Sunday, July 19, 2015

Bronte Capital is hiring a graduate

We are a small growing hedge fund based in Bondi Junction Sydney Australia making our third external hire. We run our portfolio long-short with longs being (mostly) traditional value investments and shorts being (mostly) an assortment of stock promotes, frauds and failures.

The successful applicant will work mostly with me as a graduate-trainee stock analyst. As we run global equities international travel will be involved.

This blog has a global readership but unfortunately I have to restrict applicants to people who already have a legal right to work in Australia.

The primary requirements are that you are (a) very bright, (b) interested in the investment process and (c) most importantly curious. The job will give you endless opportunity to be curious.

We would like some business experience - however we are very willing to hire straight out of University - and we are happy to delay your start date until you finish your coursework.


Bronte Capital does not feel like a traditional financial firm. Our stock selection criteria are non-standard, our dress sense is casual (to a fault), and we are situated above a shopping centre and not in the central business district. Our hours are highly flexible (though often quite long).


Our dream candidate has a ridiculous list of skills and we understand that nobody will have all of these. However we are interested in candidates who have some of the following:

(a). Curiosity - especially about the workings of business and technology. Our interests are very diverse. If you are curious about what determines jet engine efficiency that is interesting to us. If you are curious about how hair dye is marketed that is also interesting to us.

(b). Competent science education. We would prefer a science based degree to a finance/economics based education (even though our ideal candidate has both). What we really want is a bullshit detector - and that can be numeric (as in the numbers make no sense) or scientific (as in that is flat nonsense and here is the falsification) or a combination of both.

(c). Languages. We are a global fund but we have shortcomings in some jurisdictions where English is not the primary language. We have a Mandarin speaker in the team already. However German, French and Japanese would be looked on favourably as we lack these skills and they would be useful.

(d). Enough computer skills to handle the odd largish data project (though our first hire also had considerable computer skills).

(e). Demonstrated interest in the investment process.

We are grade sensitive. Unless you have at least a handful of Distinction grades in a variety of subjects you are unlikely to get the job. We do not require high grade averages. Someone with a handful of High Distinctions in subjects in which they are interested and otherwise pass grades might be a good hire so long as their interests overlap with ours. Curiosity - even in grades and subject selection is valued.

Pay will be competitive. Bonuses are possible depending on a combination of your performance and our performance.

Applications are due by Friday 14 August. Please send these to the email address in the blog and make the subject "Job Application". [I will sort email on that subject.]


Process explained: I will be sorting the applications on the weekend of 15-16. We will offer a largish number of very short interviews in the following two weeks. If you can attend in person that would be better but is not compulsory. Skype is acceptable.

With the last position I interviewed about 40 people but most interviews lasted only five minutes at which point we told the candidate we did not think it would work out. We preferred less conventional candidates and so we chose to interview widely (and reject readily). We don't want you to take it personally (and it most certainly was not meant personally as many fine people applied).

Less conventional candidates however are encouraged to apply. This process will at least give them a hearing that they might not get from a recruitment consultant.

A handful of short-listed candidates got second interviews. We expect to repeat that process.

Negatives working for Bronte:

To be entirely fair to applicants we should spell out what we believe are the negatives working for Bronte.

The first is that this is a very small team. If you want a large organisation with wide scope this is not for you. You will be trained well but it will be a narrow training as we cannot hand you from department to department giving you a feel for how big organisations work.

The second negative is that being a small organisation you are inevitably "long" us as we will be "long" you. There is career risk. This can be good and bad. If you do well and we do well it might be very good. If either of those things don't play out this might wind up being a bad career choice. We are fairly sure we will do well - but that is a decision that you are going to have to make and a risk you are going to have to take.


Nic said...

Jeez, I wish I was 20 again. I'd be there in a shot.
I love your 'negative' - working in a small team. Feels like an immense positive to me.
Good luck, best hiring process I've seen in a long time.
Nearly as good as this.

gm said...

Best job advert I have ever read

Anonymous said...

I actually think you guys sound like twats. I'm all for small team dynamics but to waste 40 people's time with an interview and to tell them after 5 mins that you are done is arrogant and tells me that you don't or can't screen resumes properly.

I think anyone considering this role should read between the lines of the Job Posting and see that you will be working in a small team run by megalomaniacs that are unlikely to really ever be happy.

Best of luck finding a "Sucker"...I mean graduate.

t said...

Given you like to interview wide and cut interviews short, you might like Possibly less harsh on candidates than making them put on a suit and tie and travel all the way to see you just to be shown the door after 90 seconds.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could work for Bronte :(

Anonymous said...

Can I apply if I am over 30?

Anonymous said...

Wish I was a graduate!

Anonymous said...

The Australian residency rule is heartbreaking

Unknown said...

This is one of the best job posts ever. Honesty is admirable and the way it is written should definitely indicate to prospects the culture and character of the place.

Best of luck for finding the right candidate!

Epicurious said...

Long time reader! I'm from Canada (doh) and unfortunately in my 30's now (double-doh)

I'm lucky enough to be able to work with a brilliant entrepreneur and leader right now but boy.. to be in my twenties and have the opportunity to work with John would be wonderful. Let's see who in my network this would benefit. Kudos to casting a wide net!

Anonymous said...

What a drag about hiring only Australians though, what a spectacular opportunity.

Luke said...

Mr Anonymous who said. "I actually think you guys sound like twats." ....etc etc. Surely the disclosure in the advert eliminates all basis of your complaint? If you don't like the process, or don't have the necessary confidence to be brutally discarded, don't apply. You might not want to work there, and fair enough, but you didn't have to waste your time fronting up and finding out their culture wasn't suited to you. We should applaud recruiters who are so upfront and honest!

Dave Chapman said...

Where are you located? Near Barrack St?

Anonymous said...

As a hazing ritual, you should make the new recruit subsist on Herbalife products for one week

Anonymous said...

It might be stupid to ask but I cant see any email address to send the job application. Can anyone help?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Luke. At least John is being upfront about the process. Why waste time continuing with an interview for another 25 minutes or so, if you've already made up your mind after 5?

If people don't like the process, they won't apply - this in itself already weeds out people that are unlikely to fit into the culture.

Tom Marinov said...

Tom Marinov

Having been recruiting for a small period I love ad's like this, it tells it like it is, unfortunately people don't like it told like it is.. and the lack of curiosity among Grad's is riving me nuts.. So go for it guys..good on you.

You should award them a "participation ribbon"for attending.. that's what the modern education systems is doing.

Anonymous said...

'Why waste time continuing with an interview for another 25 minutes or so, if you've already made up your mind after 5?'

Because anybody who believes they can get the measure of a person in 5 minutes doesn't know how to measure people.

John Hempton said...

I got 700 interviews. The question is where I reject. If you wanted to accurately and fully assess everyone it would be 700 hours.

That would be silly.

The question is how on a reasonable amount of work do I get the best person.

Clearly it is not giving a full hour to every person.

But also clearly it is not just looking at them and deciding whether they went to right university (Harvard of course) and rejecting everyone else. Why would I want to outsource my hiring decisions to the Harvard selection committee.

The process I went through was to read everyone's CV. Sometimes I asked for more information to make the person stand out. Sometimes it was pretty clear the person was unlikely to be in the best 100 applicants.

I sent a rejection letter to most straight away.

About 50 I agreed to chat to. The question is whether I am up for 50 times 10 minutes or 15 times 40 minutes. I chose the former.

I am down to about 5. They will get an hour.

I don't believe I can measure a person in 5 minutes. But I do not believe I can measure them off the CV. It is about trying to get the best time allocation. Time is also a limited resource.


dearieme said...

A youngster I know is about to be subjected to 4 hours of interview. The logic seems to be "This, we think, is the fellow we want to hire, but let's make sure of it first." I gather that nobody else will be subjected to this unless said youngster fails to get the job.

John Hempton said...

It is really hard. I think recruitment consultants do a bad job - but I understand more the constraints they are under.


Anonymous said...

I didn't even get a reply!

John Hempton said...

send another to the blog email and I will try to reply. I have tried to reply to all 700.

Anonymous said...

Would be interested in hearing John's thoughts on 1-Page, 1PG listed on the ASX. it wants to play as a disruptor in the HR hiring space and its been a 10 bagger in the past year. Its either still cheap or a sign of tech-wreck to come!

Anonymous said...

Your job ad got mentioned positively by Lucy Kellaway in the FT (and syndicated below)

Go you!

Anonymous said...

"I don't believe I can measure a person in 5 minutes. But I do not believe I can measure them off the CV. It is about trying to get the best time allocation. Time is also a limited resource."

I stand by the substance of what I said, but I was perhaps unfair in applying it to your process.

Mea culpa.

Phil said...

I'd rather a 5 minute decision over Skype than spend a whole day interviewing when the decision had been made 5 minutes after I'd walked through the door. Get it over with, I say. Interviews are bad enough as it is without putting people through pointless hours of stress.

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