I’m not going to be the first to say it, but I’ll say it anyway: Startup jobs are fun. They’re exciting. AND, they’re hard work. Maybe you’ve always wanted to get a job at a startup but you weren’t sure who was hiring or who to even talk to. We might be able to help with that.
We wrote this post to give you some tips on how to network with startups, get yourself noticed, and ultimately land your dream job. Ready to dive in?
Network at tech events
Even with so many niche startups out there, many of them fall within the tech sphere. What’s good news for you is that early stage startups need and love networking events. These will be your chance to introduce yourself, stick out in the mind of a startup founder or employee, and lay the groundwork for joining the team. You’ll probably want to consider reading the rest of this post and following our advice before you go, though.
Check out this blog on networking: How to Network (Like a Boss)
Look for startup-specific job boards
There are several job boards out there that either cater specifically to startups or startups simply seem to flock to. While Scouted isn’t exclusively for startups, we do work with a lot! Not only that, but being a startup ourselves, they have a special place in our heart and it really makes our day when we’re able to send a great hire to one of our startup companies. If you haven’t already, why not sign up and see what startup jobs we have to offer?
Read the news
Say there’s a startup you’ve had your eye on in the past but there wasn’t previously a position for you. If they just finished a new round of funding, chances are they’re growing and looking to expand their team. Why not try either following up again or making your first move? Techcrunch is a good place to start when keeping up with the latest startup news and funding.
Do your homework
Once you finally get the chance to have a conversation with someone from a startup, now is your time to stand out. Don’t just ask questions, ask the right questions. Show that you know the industry, you know the company, and you’re very interested in where it’s going. Stay up to date on latest company news and releases. If you can, familiarize yourself with the product or service. Here is your chance to prove that you’re someone who brings something to the table, not just another employee.
Have an entrepreneur mindset
Acting like an owner, or better yet, an entrepreneur is one of the best things you can do if you want to get a job working at a startup. That type of character will be noticed by any startup founder or employee. If you’re the type of person who picks up slack when you see it, stays late or comes in early when a job needs to get done, or simply asks the right questions, you’re bound to stand out a great candidate for a startup.
Always be learning
The thing about startups is that each team member probably wears multiple hats. That being the case, and the fact that as your business grows, your responsibilities will too and you’ll constantly need to be in a state of learning. If this is something you already love to do, then you’re pretty much set.
One of the great things about working at a startup is that in most cases, you probably won’t be expected to be an expert in your field on your first day. There will, however, be high expectations that you take it upon yourself to be continuously growing, asking questions, learning how to do your job better, and gradually improving as time goes on. Since the number one goal of any startup is to maintain growth, that principle applies itself to each employee as well.
If and when you do get an interview with someone from a startup, be ready to talk about the ways you’re constantly trying to learn and improve yourself, even if they don’t necessarily have to do with the job itself. Willingness to learn is an attitude that should show up in many areas of your life and startup founders understand this very well.
When it comes to working at a startup, humility almost goes hand-in-hand with learning. If you work at a startup, you may be the first and only person on your team. If that’s the case, you can be sure there’ll be a lot of “learning as you go.” And what often comes with that is mistakes. But don’t let that scare you. Founders will probably expect you to make mistakes from time to time.
If that’s the case or if you’re simply not seeing the growth you hoped to see, you’re going to need to be willing to learn from it. Report honestly on the work you’ve been doing and get ready to be transparent about what’s going well, and what isn’t. One of the things our founders at Scouted, Jax and Robin, say is that we’ll never improve if we only focus on the things that are going well.
So be ready to be transparent with startup founders. If you get an interview, be able to give examples of past problems or inefficiencies you noticed and were able to change for the better.
Startups are famous for their “all hands on deck” and “everyone wears multiple hats” cultures. What’s great about working at a startup is that there is typically a level playing field. Founders and employees are much more open and receptive to ideas. So if you talk to one, try to have a few!
Say you’re going after a marketing position for an early stage startup and you notice their email marketing could use some help. Why not come to the conversation with a few ideas in your back pocket for what you could do to make it better?
Bring something to the table
Elena of Skillcrush says, “Just like any job, it’s important to show that you have the skills and capabilities necessary for the position. Companies hire because they need someone to come in and solve a problem. You need to show why you’re the person who can solve their problem. Know what you’re best at and offer that to the team’s mission.”
Keep the relationship warm, even if you don’t get a job
Even if you didn’t get hired this time around, there could be a hundred different reasons for that. Do your best to maintain a relationship with the startup and its founders. You never know if their first decision was simply based on or not having the right role for you the first time around. It might even be work sticking around in a consulting or freelance capacity for a few months. Showing your worth and what you bring to the table can only be to your advantage at this point.