How to Get Hired at Start-ups (Part 1)

How to Get Hired at Start-ups (Part 1)

For many people, working at a startup is exciting, and it’s not hard to understand why. You can get in on the ground floor, be a part of a team that creates something new and with high potential. That’s why it’s so cool to work for a startup, but that’s also why it’s not easy to actually get a job with one. Competition is fierce, but with the right knowledge and approach, you can find a way to make the cut.

Based on this recent blog, 33 Insider Tips for Getting Hired at a Startup, here are the three steps you can take to get a cool startup job.  Today, we’ll talk about the first two steps:

Step 1 – Identify Your Target

  • Find a startup you love: Identify a startup you can really connect with, and the rest is easy. With the right fit, you’ll be better poised to connect with the startup’s culture, vision, goals, and needs.
  • Engage in startup-related chatter: Check in on Quora and other great sites featuring startup discussions, and do your best to answer questions impressively. By being a part of the conversation, you just might catch the attention of a startup that’s hiring.
  • Don’t wait to see a job posting: Actual startup job postings may not show up for quite some time, especially among those in the early stage. Rather than waiting to see if they’ll pop up, get engaged with the startup early on to express your interest.
  • Visit the right job sites: Plenty of websites specifically cater to startup jobs. Mashable Jobs, VentureLoop, and StartUpHire are just a few of the places to check out.
  • Be a part of the community: Be visible in all the right circles. Attend meetups, hackathons, and launch parties. Take the time to make connections and nurture your network. Connect with the right people, and it’s likely to lead you to a great startup job.

Step 2 – Getting Noticed

  • Craft your resume with a startup in mind: Surely we don’t have to tell you, but startups are different than corporate America. The people reading your resume are likely to be founders, not HR pros, and they probably aren’t impressed by corporate jargon. Keep your resume short and to the point to make it easy to assess.
  • Craft your resume with that specific startup in mind: Keep in mind that you’re applying to work with not just any startup, but the startup. Generic skills don’t mean a lot. You’re going to have to spell out exactly why your skills and history are specifically perfect for the startup you’re interested in.
  • Use your industry connections: It seems like everybody knows somebody who’s an insider at a startup, and if you don’t, you’d better find someone. Use your connections to get the word out that you’d like to work for a startup.
  • Use their API: Want to prove you can do cool stuff for the company? Go right on ahead and do it. If they have a public API, embark on your very own creation to show off and prove that you can take them to the next level.
  • Go open source: Participating in open source projects isn’t just a great way to learn and gain experience; it’s an incredible resume-builder. Contribute to open source, and you’ll show initiative, passion, and skill that startups are likely to be impressed by.
  • Stalk an entrepreneur: Not creepy stalking, mind you, but being everywhere they are. Follow their discussions online, attend the same conferences, and take every opportunity you have to actually talk to them and let them know you’re interested. They may not have time to get you on their radar otherwise.
  • Get in any way you can: If you’d love to work on product, but have most of your experience in sales, go ahead and get your foot in the door as a salesperson. Once you’re in, do a great job in sales and take the initiative to show your interest and competence in product.
  • Offer to work for free: It’s controversial, and can certainly backfire, but working for free is one way to get in the door. Demonstrate that you can deliver, and you’ll have a good chance at landing a paid gig.
  • Be persistent: One of Foursquare’s first employees got his job by obsessively using the service, writing several emails to the founders, and booking a last minute cross-country flight to meet with them. It was this bold, persistent action that got him the job and launched his startup career.

Working at a startup is not for everyone.  But if you think having a career at a startup might be a good career move for you, finding and joining the right startup can be exciting and empowering while accelerating your professional growth.  Feel free to let us know if you have any questions about exploring your career path.

Next time, we’ll talk about the next step – Demonstrating Your Value.

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