Startups can be a great place to work — compared to a corporate office, the culture is smaller and more intimate. If hired, you’ll probably find yourself helping out with many different projects at once, and you’ll need the skill set to back that up. If you’re a person that loves longer hours, closer relationships with your co-workers, and the excitement of growing along with the company, here’s how you can increase your chances of getting hired at a startup.
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1. Know the Company and Culture
If you’re in the throes of interviewing and actively pursuing a job, it can sometimes feel like throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. If you really want to work for a specific company, though, it takes preparation and time to learn who they are and what they’re about. You might not even want to work there once you find out it’s a suits-only office and you’re more of a jeans and T-shirts type of girl.
If the company sells a product or piece of software, learn all you can about it before you get there. Many startups have an origin story. Learn how the company got started and how it’s grown into what it is today. Find out what connections you have to the company and show you’re a perfect fit. Learn about the market competitors and be prepared to show you know the industry.
2. Hone Your Online Presence
Tech startups will want to learn who you are by looking at your online portfolios. Some hiring managers don’t have time to initially sift through hundreds of resumes, but will take the time to click through LinkedIn profiles. Make sure you’re putting out what you want them to see, check that things are up-to-date, and show your best side. Many startups themselves are a part of the social media industry and are more likely to hire someone with a professional online presence.
3. Ask for the Interview
Startups don’t always need things formal and they’re also very busy. Sending in the standard cover letter and resume rarely works. They hire mostly via referrals and recommendations, so if you want to connect, you’re going to have to work harder and probably ask for the interview yourself. You could try handwritten notes to a CEO or VP you connect with on LinkedIn.
David Baszucki, a Silicon Valley CEO, says, “I’ve done it in the past and I think it’s ridiculously effective at moving from [being] a consumer of job boards to becoming an offensive job-getter with a passion, knowing the industry and why you want to be somewhere.” And once you finish the interview, don’t forget to connect afterwards with a quick thank-you note to help you stand out. It shows that you can be thoughtful and respectful of their time.
4. Share Yourself and Be Inquisitive
If given the chance, share why you’re unique. Startup culture is about being who you are, so if you’re asked, “What makes you special?,” jump at the chance to tell them about your uncommon hobbies or interests outside work. Include anything philanthropic or volunteer work. It shows you care about people and projects beyond yourself, which is an important part of working at a startup.
Don’t forget to ask them questions, too. If you were unable to find out something prior to the interview despite your searching, ask and show you took the time to try and learn about the company.
Tell Us What You Think
If you work at a startup, what are your tips for getting hired? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.