How to Get Hired at Start-ups (Part 2)

How to Get Hired at Start-ups (Part 2)

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.  Last time, we talked about the first two steps:

  1. Identify your target
  2. Getting noticed

Today, we’ll focus on the last step – how to make it clear to the startups you’re interested in why they should hire you.

Step 3 – Demonstrate Your Value

  • Present yourself as an innovator: Startups are always ravenous for fresh and creative ideas. You can really stand out if you come to your interview prepared with ideas for growing and improving the business.
  • Show that you’re well-rounded: Do you have side projects that demonstrate your interest and passion for technology? Discuss what you’ve been working on and your dedication will be clear.
  • Identify what makes you unique and valuable: Getting a job means being a great salesperson, and every great salesperson knows you’ve got to have a unique selling point (USP). What’s yours? Be sure it’s the star of your resume and cover letter.
  • Be flexible: Working at a startup isn’t like working at a 9 to 5, usually. You may have weird hours, unusual commitments, and strange tasks. Be willing to take them in stride and don’t be shocked when you’re asked how you’d feel about taking them on in the interview.
  • Just start working: One of Square’s earliest employees was initially denied an interview at the company. But he brushed it off and took it upon himself to acquire card readers and use them to sign up 10 new merchants for the service in one day. It’s a bold move, one that got him noticed, and hired, by the startup.
  • Say thank you: Sure, it’s impressive to create high tech, attention-getting media to woo your potential employer, and if you have the skills, by all means, do it. But startups are made up of regular people too, and everyone, yes, everyone appreciates a good, old-fashioned hand-written thank you note. Do this, and you’ll really stand out.
  • Fill multiple needs: Being great at one thing is impressive, but it’s much more likely to get you a job at a big company where they can afford to have one employee for one task. At a startup, needs tend to be much broader, as each employee is expected to take on a wide variety of tasks. Show that you can contribute with a wide skill set that fills multiple needs.
  • Know everything there is to know: Don’t just check out the company’s website a few hours before your interview. Really spend time getting to know what the startup is all about. Do extensive research, connect with their social media outlets, and learn about their development. Go beyond the surface so that you’ll be able to stand out as knowledgeable and intensely interested in what the startup stands for.
  • Don’t try to BS: Entrepreneurs tend to have great BS detectors. Don’t give them a reason to lose faith in you by trying to feed them any. If you don’t know the answer, own up to it and offer to find out and follow up with them.
  • Be personal: Joining a small startup means lots of one on one time with the first people with boots on the ground. If you don’t click personally, chances are, you’re not getting hired. Do you fit in with the company’s culture? Get along with the founders? If you think you do, make sure that you let your personality shine through so they will recognize it as well.
  • Have your own questions: Be really impressive by showing that you’ve taken the time to contemplate what the startup is all about. Come to the interview with your own questions, ones beyond salary, hours, and benefits, that really demonstrate an understanding, appreciation, and willingness to explore the company.
  • Spell it all out: Don’t use generalizations and vague ideas. Concrete numbers and proof work best when trying to prove your worth. Explain how you bootstrapped $1 million in revenue or landed 25 hot new clients, and you’re sure to get interest.
  • Solve their problems: Demonstrate that you can do a great job for the startup by identifying and solving a problem they haven’t even noticed. Show them how to improve conversions on a landing page, or introduce a user feature that you feel is missing.
  • Be passionate: People who work at startups tend to be the passionate type; show that you are too by getting excited and showing personal interest in the project.

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 at 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.

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