When opportunity knocks, ‘always be open-minded’: Chris Magill, founder, Alternative Investment Staffing

After a few years on the job, you may feel that considering options outside your firm is akin to “cheating on a significant other,” said Chris Magill, founder of executive recruitment firm Alternative Investment Staffing LLC.

But “always be open-minded,” advised Magill, and don’t be afraid to network with an eye toward career advancement. If a recruiter sends you a personal message–and not a mass mailing that looks like it went to 20,000 people–take the call. “Ninety percent of candidates I place told me they weren’t looking when I [first] talked to them,” said Magill (pictured).

Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Magill is a relatively new force on the executive recruitment scene, having launched his firm this summer after stints as senior recruiter at Phyton Talent Advisors and senior staffing manager at AccruePartners. I caught up with him late last month for the five-questions feature below; it is edited and condensed for clarity.

1) Tell us about your new firm:  We provide executive recruiting and human capital solutions for fund administrators, private equity firms, hedge fund managers, real estate firms and other firms in alternative investments. Eighty percent of what we do is focused on the back office and operations. We staff their accounting, finance and technology teams. We recruit professionals from the analyst to the managing director level.

2) How’s business? We solidified operations around August 1. Since then we’ve worked on more than 50 assignments for some 35 clients, including four private equity firms that are in the top 10 by assets under management. We’ve placed seven candidates into positions, including such roles as senior accounting analyst and fund controller. In this business, averaging one placement per month is spectacular.

3) How do you find good candidates? Every week I speak to some 15-20 potential candidates. I tell them that I’m not trying to poach them. I say I’m here should they ever need a job or be looking for one. I ask them to help me understand what a spot-on position would look like so when it comes across my desk I can reach out to them. More often than not I have something perfect for them within a month. It also helps that I don’t jump around from investment banking to mutual funds to insurance companies. I focus exclusively on alternative investments.

4) What kind of hiring trends to do you see in private equity? I’m seeing a lot of need for mid-level to senior-level accountants with two to eight years of experience. Often I’m not sure if a firm even has an opening, but I’ll send over promising profiles, and more often that not they want to meet that person. It’s tougher for candidates who are looking for jobs requiring 15 or more years of experience, such as CFO or CTO roles. Firms don’t really advertise those jobs, which are usually filled through word of mouth or through existing connections. That can be kind of frustrating for candidates.

5) Any hiring plans of your own? So far I’ve been working with a couple of partners who aren’t full-time employees. But hiring employees will be in the cards for 2020. There’s just too much opportunity, and only one of me.

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