5 must-do things to get a job at a startup
The startup world is exploding, and it is fast becoming the place to be if you are an ambitious young graduate. Getting a job at a startup is straightforward enough if you know what you should be doing to get yourself noticed, but often startups aren’t as widely promoted by university career centres. The requirements for landing yourself a corporate graduate scheme and getting a job at a startup differ significantly once you get down to the details, so retraining yourself to think about how to go about the job hunt for a startup takes a bit of effort. Luckily we are here to help you through it!
1. Showcase your personality
Startups, as a general rule, are famed for their alternative quirks and sense of personality. Whether that’s in their office design or their team nights out, the majority of startups pride themselves on being more human and down-to-earth than their corporate counterparts. If you want to be noticed by the CEOs of small companies, then make a point of standing out and embrace anything that makes you a bit different. Whether that’s through making your CV exciting to read and visually dynamic, or injecting a bit of personality into your cover letter so that it reads like a human, rather than a robot. When you get to the interview don’t be afraid to leave the suit at home and dress with a bit more individuality. Be confident in being able to express yourself as you, not just as a piece of generic paperwork.
2. Target smaller teams
If you are serious about getting hired by a startup, but aren’t sure if your experience levels up to what they might be looking for, then aim your efforts at smaller teams of only a few people. There are many benefits to this approach, the first being that you are likely to get your CV in front of the people that matter directly. The second is that you won’t be up against the same hordes of people knocking down Facebook’s door – aim to impress at a smaller startup that you feel passionate about and you might end up seeing it rise to unicorn level with you as one of the founding members! If you aren’t as confident in your skills at the beginning, then a small team will give you the opportunity to grow and get an understanding of things in real time.
3. Style yourself as a generalist
If you are aiming for a small team, then have a think about how wide-ranging your skillset is and alter your application to reflect that. Startups need people who are happy to work across various departments, comfortable offering ideas on all parts of the business and interested in the company as a whole. This is great news for any graduates without much experience and unsure what direction they want to go in career-wise, as working at a startup will give you a chance to try out a few things outside of your specified role. Look at your hobbies and other interests as well as our work experience and see if there is anything worth highlighting that shows you have something else to offer – for example, design work done when applying for a marketing role, or a coding course when applying for a sales role. Never underestimate the importance of experience that might look irrelevant at first – consider it carefully before leaving it off your CV.
4. Spend time on your application
It goes without saying that you should always spend time crafting your job application and tailoring it to perfection, but it can pay to go an extra mile when it comes to startups. Startups like to see candidates that are serious about their company and what they are building – someone who is as passionate about the future of it as they are. Whether you choose to write a brilliantly inventive cover letter, design a CV in their branding style or connect over social media about a campaign they have done, make sure you are thinking outside of the box. Here is a list of applications that really pushed the boat out for you to take inspiration from. Remember that nothing is too outlandish for a startup, so be bold and be brave.
5. Build your own experience
Finding work experience straight out of university or while you are still studying is tough. Getting something down on your CV that isn’t bar work can seem impossible when you have just started the job hunt, but don’t stress out just yet. There are things that you can do outside of actual employment that can boost your CV as well as showing that you are capable of self-motivated work. Why not work on your writing skills via a blog, or design skills through a personal project, or general leadership skills by taking on responsibility in a volunteer role? Being proactive and seeking out ways to make yourself more experienced will only do you a service by giving you words to put into your applications and things to talk about in an interview. For more ideas of how to improve your employability without ever being employed, check out our blog post about it here.
BrighterBox connects graduates with the coolest jobs at startups in London.