Job at A Start Up, Want to Work for a Start-up?, Find A Start Up Job
Job at A Start Up, Want to Work for a Start-up?, Find A Start Up Job
What Startups May See As Deal Breakers
Ultimately, startup companies are still employers. They’re looking for certain things from employees and may have pre-determined ideas or biases that make it harder to get hired for the job you want. (Find A StartUp Job)
It’s best to know about any potential objections in advance so that you can proactively address them in your resume and interview presentation.
1. Too Corporate – Many managers at startups have the perception that a “corporate type” won’t be able to jump in and perform. This is sometimes unfair, but it’s true that many corporate employees are used to more structure and more resources and struggle to adapt in a startup environment.
If you’re a corporate type or an unproven new grad, you need to show that you will be willing and able to get hands-on and be resourceful.
2. Too Inexperienced – Depending on the position that you’re interested in, lack of experience could be a huge stumbling block. While startups are known for seeing youth and energy as advantages, they still need to know you have the experience to do the job.
Think hard about how to position the experience that you do have to demonstrate your potential to do more.
You can also emphasize your drive and your passion for the product or service. The good news is that startups offer lots of opportunity to advance once you get a foot in the door.
3. Too Old – Can you be too experienced for a startup job? Unfortunately, age bias can be a real challenge at some companies.
In the world of startups, the focus is often on new and cutting-edge. Hiring managers can often overlook the value of a more seasoned perspective. They may worry about a more experienced hire being too set in their ways.
Another issue is money. Many startups don’t have the budget to compete with established firms in hiring experienced candidates.
If you really want a shot at that startup job, it’s up to you to show what you bring to the table and counter any objections (spoken or unspoken). If you do this well enough, you may gain the leverage to negotiate for a higher salary too.
Here are some ways to counter age bias at a startup:
• Show them your energy — The real issue (whether they know it or not) is not age. They want someone with the energy and willingness to step outside their comfort zone and continue to learn and grow. Demonstrate your drive and passion.
• Wow them with your tech prowess — You need to show you have the required technical expertise. It might be worthwhile to take some classes or seek out some mentoring so that you’ll be able to talk the talk.
• Save money discussions for later — Make it clear that your priority is finding the right position and save the salary discussions for when you have more leverage. Don’t count yourself out with premature compensation discussions. Make them love you and you’ll have leverage for negotiating compensation and other benefits when the time comes.
What Startups are Looking For
Startups, in many cases, are looking for employees who can play different roles and contribute in multiple ways. You may be called upon to handle a wide range of issues from disgruntled customers to technical difficulties and problem-solving troubleshooting over Skype.
Some days, you may be called upon to do all these things before your second cup of coffee.
Here are some of the competency areas that most startups are looking for:
• Fast Learner
• Great Communicator
Be sure to prepare interview stories that demonstrate your fit in these areas, especially if you’re coming from a more structured environment.
The startup world can certainly look appealing. Startup jobs typically offer dynamic work environments, more opportunities to contribute and gain new experience, better access to senior management, and even the chance to get in on the ground floor of something big.
Of course, startup jobs can also have drawbacks including less stability, more demanding work, dealing with mercurial founders, and the chance that your seemingly promising startup could flame out with little notice.
However, if you’re the type who values excitement, the ability to step up and be a key part of the team, and the chance make something truly amazing happen, working for a startup might be the perfect fit.
Build Your Network
Networking is the single most valuable tool you have at your disposal when it comes to securing a job with a startup. Most cities have active startup communities and regular events that make it easy to plug into the scene.
Networking helps you meet the right people and gives you an opportunity to learn about positions before they’re even made public. This minimizes the pool of competition and allows you to cash in by literally being in the right place at the right time.
One easy first step is to use meetup.com to find and attend events for your local startup community. Make friends, make connections, and get to know what projects people are working on. Share your thoughts and expertise.
Look for LinkedIn groups that are related to startups in your area. Join the groups and the conversations going on in these groups. Reach out to your current LinkedIn contacts to see if they can make introductions to friends in the startup world.
Join Twitter and follow people who are dialed-into the startup community in your city. Learn, converse, and get to know the people behind the startups. Many influential founders and venture capitalists are very active on Twitter and share valuable advice and insights.
Sign up for a class or workshop on a startup-friendly topic. Look for organizations like General Assembly, which offers online and live (in NYC) events featuring cool speakers and expert instructors on topics like programming, digital marketing, and more.
There are also plenty of other places to find free or low-cost online training on related topics (Coursera, Treehouse, Code Academy, etc.) These online courses also offer opportunities to connect with others in the startup world.
What to Expect on a Startup Job Interview
Now that you know about where to find the jobs, it’s time to get educated about the interview process and how startup interviews tend to differ from typical big-company job interviews.
Naturally, startup interview processes vary as much as the companies themselves vary. A lot depends on the startup’s size, stage of development, culture, and industry.
In general, though, startup interviews tend to feel more conversational and less formal than corporate interviews. This is because of the focus on smaller teams, less hierarchy, and each individual wearing multiple hats. As a result, you’ll find more of an emphasis on fitting in with the culture and being able to contribute and collaborate well.
You’re still likely to get some of the standard questions. Your interviewers will want to know about your background, what you’re good at, and what you’re looking for in an opportunity.
Some of the common job interview questions that are particularly important to ace in a startup interview include:
Tell me about yourself — You’ll need to grab them from the beginning with a strong answer to the get-to-know-you opening question.
Why do you want to work here? — This is critical, especially if you don’t have a background working for startups. What interests you about this particular firm (make sure you do your research on the company and its business model and its competitors)? What makes you ready to work in a startup environment like this one (especially if coming from a bigger firm)? Motivation is a key factor in the startup interview because the hiring manager needs to know that you’ll be committed to doing what it takes if hired.
Why should we hire you? — This is basically a variation on the “What are your strengths?” question. You have to know how to position yourself as an asset for this particular company and this particular role.
You will probably also get some unusual questions that reflect that particular startup’s culture and personality.
Your interviewer wants to determine if you can do the job, of course. However, if you clear that first screening, they will also want to get to know you
They may ask you about your hobbies or what you did last weekend.
They’re not just making polite chit-chat with these questions. They’re trying to learn more about your personality, your values, and your drive — and maybe a bit about how you balance your professional and personal lives.
Another curve-ball that you might experience in a startup interview is criticism or confrontational questions. Startups move at a fast pace and the people who are building the company often lack the time or patience to handle things with kid gloves. It’s important to know that you can take criticism and understand the value of it.
In terms of format, your startup interview may be less traditional than a standard interview, and may include a video interview or panel interview.
Sure, working for a startup is a bit risky. Many of today’s hot startups may not even exist in 2 years. However, is it really any riskier than working for a corporation these days? With lay-offs and reorganizations, the days of working 25 years for your gold watch are over.
In fact, some studies indicate that startups are where the jobs are these days. The Kauffman Foundation, for instance, conducted an extensive study and discovered that in the U.S. economy, job growth only occurs through startup firms.