Startups can be a risky place to find employment. After all, a staggering 90 percent of startups are guaranteed to fail within a year or two. However, this doesn’t mean you should write these companies off as a place of employment.
In fact, there is much more room for growth and career progression in such a company than a more established one.
Many people recognize this and that’s why startup jobs are filled very quickly. Landing a job with a startup isn’t as simple as you might think, though; it takes a certain level of pre-planning and preparation.
With that in mind, here are a few ways to make yourself the most attractive candidate for a startup environment:
1) Be Positive
The one thing that kills a startup is a negative employee. It sinks the ship before it’s even left the harbor. For this reason, proving that you are a positive and forward-thinking employee can be the best way to stand out.
Startups want people who can drive their company forward to bigger and better things, simple. With that in mind, you should work to prove yourself as a positive force. But, how do you do this? Littering your CV with words such as ‘enthusiastic’ and ‘positive’ is one way, of course, but not particularly effective. In fact, it may leave the employer thinking the exact opposite.
Instead, you should highlight the outcomes of your positive actions in your last role. For example, you could highlight starting a team initiative which grew results and sales by a certain percentage. Or you could focus on an extra activity, such as team building, which had a positive effect. In this way, you are not outright stating your positivity, but rather, demonstrating it effectively.
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Sometimes landing a job with a startup isn’t about what you know, but who you know. Okay, so most jobs are like that. But it is especially the case when it comes to startups. In fact, it is safe to say that networking is probably your most powerful tool when it comes to landing a job with a startup.
Having a robust network can mean that you hear about a startup job before anyone else, which gives you the edge when it comes to putting yourself forward for the job. So ensuring that you have the right contacts within your network is essential. However, networking itself can be a time-consuming endeavor, so be prepared for that.
Of course, there are plenty of ways to get around this. If you don’t have a lot of time to network, then search out events in your nearby area. One day every month or so isn’t a lot of time, but it can be invaluable to help boost your profile and get you in the right networking sphere. Simply meeting one person, for example, can open up a door to meeting 10 others in their networking circles. This reciprocal networking can be a much faster way to grow your own network and actually make friends, so it is worth a try.
3) Study the Company
When working long hours you want to ensure the people you spend that time with are a good fit. Especially as extra time often needs to be put into a startup, you need to make sure that everyone will get along and work well together.
So, when looking to join a startup you should research intensely beforehand. Is it the kind of work environment you can get behind?
4) Stand Out
Do you have a killer portfolio prepared to show off your skills? Or an example app to prove your app development skills are up to scratch? When hunting for a startup job, proving your excellence is necessary in order to land the job.
Make sure that you have all of this prepared prior to your application or initial introduction. It can be that final ingredient that wows the startup director and lands you the job, or at the very least catapults you into the top candidates for consideration.
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5) Define Yourself
Often, a role within a startup will not be solidly defined until you have worked in the role for at least a year. In such a fresh environment workers find themselves wearing many different hats, often. So, you should show a willingness and desire to mold the role. You should be willing to be the defining force behind it.
This is the special element that working in a startup provides: growing your career to help define your company. This is rather than the classic defining your career based on your company’s previous growth.
If you think a company is lacking a certain role, which would be invaluable to their growth, then tell them so. You never know, pointing out what they are missing could be the best way to get yourself hired as that missing factor.
6) Be Persistent
Be determined – but don’t be annoying.
If you really want to work for a particular startup because you believe in what they are doing or are particularly impressed by them, then persistence may be your best weapon. Keep checking in with the people that matter in the company, keep putting yourself forward even if you don’t get the job the first time. Chances are a startup company will be hiring regularly so keep your eye out for that.
This kind of persistence can get you noticed for the right reasons, so long as you keep it to a reasonable level.
Overall, landing a job with a startup can be both easier and harder than with a more longstanding company. There’s more room for growth, but these outfits also need excellence from day one and you need to prove you have this. Keep this in mind when searching or applying for a startup job.
Also, be prepared to work hard – once you do land the job – to avoid being a part of that 90 percent of startup failures.
Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor
Contributed by Zack Halliwell, a freelance business & careers writer.