Tips to Get a Startup Job

Startups are frequently quite different from many established companies, and positioning yourself well for a position in a startup often requires you to take a different approach.

The following are some useful tips to help you get noticed when you are applying for a job at a startup company:

1. Demonstrate That You Hustle
Ask anyone who works at a startup company about what they do there, and most likely they will say something like, "what don't I do?" At a startup, during the early days, it can be equally terrifying and exciting.

With ground rules being practically non-existent, usually, employees have to be jack-of-all-trades a lot more than people working at larger companies.  The upside to all of that is the when you are forced to think on the fly and improvise in a rapidly-changing environment, it can really help hone career skills that could otherwise take you years to develop.

Make yourself stand out from the crowd by learning all types of versatile skills that startups are searching for. Don't attempt to do everything.

Instead, choose a core area - from sales to design to coding - and then build out in multiple directions from there.  Search for internship opportunities that will allow you to make connections across a wide range of disciplines. (That might mean interning at a different startup company).

Whenever you are applying for a startup job, be sure to have enough material for you demonstrate how resourceful you are. Additionally, follow this guide on how to write a resume that passes through applicant tracking systems. This will get you as far as interview stage.

2. Own Your Project
Life at a startup frequently gives employees the chance to experiment and to be able to see their ideas through from conception all the way through execution. Unlike corporate, formal structures, with several layers of oversight and approval, typically startups are a lot less rigid.  As an employee at a startup, you will have to take on ownership of your projects, and be able to balance nitty-gritty details with big-picture thinking, and directly contribute to either the failure or success of all of the initiatives you are responsible for.  

This requires an excitement to create things and an entrepreneurial spirit.  While you were in college did you develop an app or build a website?  When you can show you have the initiative to transforms ideas into a reality that demonstrates that you can take the lead on projects that get thrown to you.

You may also want to prepare a few ideas that you can pitch during your interviews to the hiring manager. When you have this type of forward-thinking attitude it shows you have the ability to make an impact through being able to come up with your own creative solutions.  It also demonstrates that you have done your homework in terms of the things that the company is working on already and shows you are excited to work on building on and developing them further.

3. Embrace The Unexpected
When you have the chance to stretch your job description limits on a regular basis it can help you develop a lot of professional skills to help you forward your career during the early years.  Also, when you are part of a small and early team, it allows you to create personal connections you simply can't match in other types of work settings. Those early-stage employees have a tendency to be more loyal and cohesive, both to each other and the company since those bonds are developed during the hectic stages of the company getting up and running.

Show that you are able to roll with the punches - both as part of a close-knit team and on your own.  A positive, confident attitude can go a very long way towards showing that you can be relied on.  Be sure to have other situations you can talk about where you had to pull together under pressure in order to pull something important off.

It's okay, as a recent graduate, for that challenge to have occurred in a school environment.  It just needs to demonstrate your resolve and that it helped you learn something important.
4. Fail Gracefully
Possibly the most important and biggest lesson that can be learned from working for a startup company is how to fail.  Failure comes with this territory.  All of the excitement pushing you to try out new things can backfire as well.  However, it is critical to both the company's success and your career to learn how to keep moving forward. 

Show how learning from your own failures has helped you grow. Discuss any relevant experiences that show how you were able to overcome your missteps and stumbles - and have taken time to figure out why you made these mistakes.  You don't want to make excuses for errors you made in the past.  It is about analyzing and learning from your failures, and demonstrating you are able to move forward in a professional and mature way.

For many millennials, the environment at a startup company is a closer match to their personal style and workplace values compared to established companies.  When you work at a startup, it can help you quickly gain diverse experience and expand your horizons during those critical early years of your career.  Be sure to take these tips into consideration and you will succeed.

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