Wall Street Wall Street Photo: Reuters

Top private equity shops like Apollo Global Management LLC (NYSE:APO) and Centerbridge Partners LP are recruiting hard and fast for talent from Wall Street banks, reported the Wall Street Journal on Friday.

Recruiting season has begun weeks earlier compared with last year, and months earlier compared with the year before that. Last weekend, junior bankers -- some as young as 22 -- were bombarded by emails from recruiters, asking about interest in job interviews.

The hiring drive is likely to affect grads of standard two-year Wall Street training programs, who would join new firms in 2015. Industry experts say the frantic hunt for talent becomes more intense every year.

Private equity jobs can offer from $250,000 to $300,000 annually, even for entry-level workers. But the finance industry has had a tough time after the financial crisis, as talent departed for tech firms amid job losses in the sector.

Within the industry, Wall Street banks may be losing top candidates to hedge funds and other specialist financial firms.

Private equity recruiting for the summer of 2015 has seen other so-called “megafunds” like Silver Lake Partners, the Carlyle Group LP (Nasdaq:CG) and KKR & Co. L.P. (NYSE:KKR) jump in already, too, according to finance forum Wall Street Oasis. 

“It’s becoming a joke,” forum founder Patrick Curtis told the Journal. The forum provides interview guides for prospective candidates and offers an insider’s peek into the Wall Street world of recruiting and work culture.

“For most people, megafund recruiting is over before you know it started. Unless you had an informal interview over coffee or something with someone from a megafund, don't expect that if you wait around you'll eventually get that call from Blackstone or Apollo,” wrote a forum user earlier this week, on a post dedicated to the topic.

“God this sucks. Got emails 3PM, wanted to fly me across the country for early AM interview. Ridic,” wrote another user.

Competition for private equity jobs at the best-known firms is immensely competitive. It's often harder than landing a job at top banks like Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE:GS) and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM).

Leaving impressive private equity salaries behind for a Rio de Janeiro beach may be equally desirable to some finance talents, however, notes one Wall Street Oasis writer, given grueling hours. He says he spent one seven-day stretch working 136 hours. That’s about fours hours of sleep a day.