How to Land a Job at a Startup
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
As a startup owner who receives resumes daily, I’ve noticed an interesting advantage most startups have over corporations.
They’re magnets for prospective recent graduates and a fair number of ex-entrepreneurs!
There's no doubting the reputation startups have acquired over the past decade or so: the rock star-like young professionals; the hip offices; the (eventual) perks.
Startups are prime workplace real estate these days for every prospective new-hire, and they continue to set the trends in hiring tactics and practices.
The startup world is an attractive prospect for ex-entrepreneurs in that it allows them to work as pseudo-entrepreneurs -- they still get to flex their entrepreneurial muscles while gainfully accepting the consistency of a paycheck. Although ex-entrepreneurs may not like to admit it, the need to re-enter the workforce could happen for different reasons.
Turns out new businesses have a high failure rate.
According to a recent Harvard business school study by Dr. Shikhar Ghosh, three out of every four venture-backed businesses fail to provide investors any return. When failure knocks on the door, one of the options entrepreneurs might entertain would be to going back to work for someone else -- at their startup.
Startups need workers who are eager to take the initiative and make decisions that others won’t. Only those that succeed in making these essential hires, who aren’t afraid to set trends, have any chance of survival. Mark Zuckerberg once said in an interview, “I will only hire someone to work directly for me if I would work for that person." This is where you, as an ex-entrepreneur, will be invaluable.
Here are three factors that have big impacts on who gets hired at a startup.
1. What have you done?
Clearly state what you've accomplished either working for yourself or for someone else.
Many candidates are guilty of overstating events and accomplishments on their resumes. On the other hand, many others make a different fundamental mistake: They never state, in clear language, what they’ve done for a previous employer or in their academic pursuits.
No one has the time to decipher the finer points of your resume. You’re trying to say why you're the best person for the job. If it's hard to read, your resume will be thrown aside. Explain clearly, in as much detail and jargon-free language as possible, what you successfully did in a previous role.
If you broke sales records for software sales by selling a million units in two weeks via a sales method you derived yourself, state it clearly with figures included. Another key thing to do is to frame points on your resume as tangible achievements instead of responsibilities.
2. Placement matters
Do list your accomplishments as close to the top of your resume as possible.
How many prime candidates have made the fatal mistake of letting their finest achievements get lost in the clutter of words that is their resume? As previously stated, a hiring manager at any organization is sifting through thousands of emails to find that one gold nugget -- a daunting task.
If that's the case, you want your nugget as close to the top of that pile of dirt as possible. Let your finest achievements be listed as close to the top of your resume as possible. Most hiring managers will spend less than 10 seconds on each resume -- something has to catch his or her eye before that window of time runs out.
Your best bet is to maximize the space and really make an impact on your resume at the top and the bottom of the page.
3. Look the part
To swing things in your favor when meeting the hiring manager for the job, look like you fit the job.
Numerous studies have proven the human mind and eye have a bias toward more attractive-looking individuals, and it would be smart to take advantage of that small glitch in the human psyche. Startups have earned the reputation of being much more laid back in attire choice than your traditional corporate workplace. However, many candidates have taken this to mean they don't need to try hard to look their best at a startup interview.
No matter what the culture the organization favors, individuals that are more attractive will always be favored when it comes to offers, salaries and compensation. Candidates need to make an effort to look their best to subconsciously influence the hiring manager's decisions.