Gone are the days of stuffy cubicles and drab board meetings. Startups are a creative, collaborative, and fast-paced environment that foster innovation.
You may associate startups with fun company culture, entrepreneurs, and — let’s face it — Silicon Valley. And, yes, this can be true of many startups. However, when it comes down to it, working at a startup can be an exciting and developmental experience that you won’t find anywhere else.
This guide to getting a job at a startup will help you to pursue your dream job. Read on to learn about the steps you can take to land a job, the skills needed, and the benefits of working at a startup.
How To Get a Job at a Startup
We’re going to take you through the steps you can take to get hired at a startup. From the beginning to the end of the process, we’re here to guide you.
1. Find Startups You’re Interested In
The first step in how to get hired at a startup is to research startups that interest you. Startups can range in industry from technology to e-commerce and even healthcare. Wherever your interests lie, there’s bound to be a startup perfect for you.
Use websites like AngelList to find startups with open job listings, or simply search “startups in _____” to find startups in your ideal work location. Many startups offer remote positions so be on the lookout for those if you are interested in working from home.
Write down a list of the startups that interest you the most and do a little digging. Learn more about the startup founder(s) and how the company came to be. If the origin story resonates with you and the company excites you, continue to the next step.
2. Look for Open Positions
Once you’ve found at least a handful of startups you are interested in working for, take a look at their job listings. Look for startup jobs that are relevant to your skill set. There may not be positions available with your exact job title in mind, but odds are there will be some in the realm of your expertise.
Read job descriptions carefully to see what the employer’s expectations are for candidates. If you are looking for an entry-level position and have no professional experience, you can still get a job at a startup. It may be a little more difficult to get hired without professional experience, but it can be done.
If a startup intrigues you but doesn’t have any job listings available, consider reaching out to decision-makers of the company via email or LinkedIn. Many startup founders may admire your initiative in reaching out to seek employment. Just make sure to keep it professional.
3. Perfect Your Resume and Cover Letter
Spend time perfecting your resume and cover letter before applying for a job at a startup. List all relevant work experience, your education history, achievements, and skills. Keep it clean, easy-to-read, and to one page.
If you don’t have much or any relevant professional experience, highlight your skill set and why you would be a good fit for the company culture. Emphasize that you are eager to learn, adapt quickly, and are self-motivated.
For the cover letter, include what excited you about the startup and explain why you want the role. Don’t just use what is already on your resume for your cover letter. Instead, use cover letters as an opportunity to stand out and showcase your interest in the company.
4. Apply for Positions
Once you have polished your resume and cover letter, it’s time to start applying! Apply for the positions you feel passionate about. Then wait to hear back from employers with interview offers.
5. Ace Your Interview
Preparing for your interview is key to getting a job at a startup. An interview is your chance to help employers envision you in the role and show what you can bring to the company.
There are many ways in which you should prepare for your interview with a startup. Here are a couple of things to consider when preparing your interview.
Know the Company and Its Values
Do your research and get to know the company before your interview. Having a solid understanding of the history of the startup as well as knowledge of the products or services it provides will show your genuine interest. Knowing the company’s values will help you show that you would fit well into the company culture.
Come to the interview looking sharp. Dress professionally and put your best foot forward. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to wear a suit or dress, but be intentional about what you wear and dress to impress. It’s always better to overdress for an interview than the reverse.
Come With Questions
Coming with good questions for the interviewer will show you came prepared. Nothing’s more awkward than when you get asked if you have any questions and you sit in silence as you try to think of something on the spot. Ask relevant questions about the position and company that you can’t find on the internet.
6. Send a Follow Up Thank You Email
After your interview(s), don’t forget to send an email thanking the interviewer for their time and reiterating your interest in the role. You’d be amazed at how many people skip this step. This is courteous and gives employers a sense of your eagerness to contribute to their startup. Be brief, polite, and professional when writing a thank you note.
Bonus Tip: Bring a 90-Day Plan
This step is optional but will wow hiring managers at startups. Bringing a loose 90-day plan of what you want to accomplish in the first three months would help them see your drive and passion. This 90-day plan doesn’t need to be extensive but should outline what goals and milestones in the first 90 days at the company. Present this to the hiring manager during your interview to show them you went the extra mile.
So now that you know the process of how to get a job at a startup, let’s take a look at some skills at traits that are useful for startup employees to possess.
Skills for Getting a Job at a Startup
There are plenty of skills and traits that can set you up for success working in a startup environment. Here are some skills employers will be looking for when hiring at a startup.
- Self-motivation. Being a motivated self-starter is something that startups look for in candidates because they likely don’t have complex processes set up. Working at a startup requires moving at a fast pace right from the start.
- Adaptability. As a growing startup with a small team of employees, you may wear many hats. Your job title might not match some of the tasks you end up taking on. Being flexible and willing to help for the good of the team is a must.
- Creativity and Problem-Solving Skills. There is no question that problems will arise and being able to innovate is something that’s valued by employers.
- Strong work ethic. As mentioned above, working at a startup is fast-paced and can be difficult at times but is just as rewarding. There’s always work to be done at startups, so having a strong work ethic is important.
These are not the end-all, be-all skills, but having at least a few of these will help you get a job at a startup. Put your best foot forward and display your skills to the hiring manager.
Benefits of Working at a Startup
Working at a startup can be a ton of fun! If doing a variety of tasks with a close-knit team of employees, a startup might be the place for you! Here are just a few benefits of getting hired at a startup.
It’s an ever-changing environment.
If you thrive in an environment that offers plenty of variation in day-to-day tasks, you might love working at a startup. Due to a startup being a newer company, there tend to be many things that fluctuate. This keeps things fresh and thrilling for employees!
You’re part of a growing team.
Another benefit is that startup teams are often on the smaller side, so you will likely get to know your coworkers better. Startup teams support each other while the company continues to grow.
Most startups are flexible and run very differently from big corporations. Sometimes work hours vary, and many startups offer work from home flexibility. This allows you to be flexible in your work schedule.
There are opportunities to learn.
You will be given many opportunities to learn at a startup. Likely, you will exchange expertise with other team members and find innovative solutions to problems together.
Typically, startups offer employees more freedom to do their jobs and make decisions than at bigger companies. However, minimal supervision and more trust mean you will need to show leadership and make decisions that benefit the team.
Join the Startup Team at Qwick
Qwick is a startup that offers on-demand staffing to businesses and professionals in the event and hospitality industries. We connect food and beverage professionals looking for on-demand work with businesses that need them.
Qwick is a certified Great Place to Work, and we’re proud of the unique company culture we’ve created. We offer employees competitive compensation, unlimited time off, work from home flexibility, health benefits, and more. We have fun every day figuring out how to add new features for our Professionals and Business Partners.
Come join our team and make a difference at Qwick!