I’m obsessed with tech companies, especially small, growing ones. The nature of the workforce is so different than the one my Dad prepared me for when I was a child. When he was young, you planned to keep a job until retirement if you could; as it was the only way for many people to gain stability in their later life. Millennials don’t think this way — of course we’re thinking about our future, but we’re unwilling to sacrifice our present. Startup culture offers things that are important to millennials; work life balance; teams filled with passion and excitement, and an opportunity to make large contributions to innovative useful products.
The desire to work at a Startup is steadily rising and the demand for qualified candidates is stronger than ever. How can you stand out? Especially if you’ve never worked for a startup before?
Own Your Narrative
Companies are looking to you in order to find out what you have to offer and why you’re a good fit. Spell it out for them by telling a compelling and cohesive story about your career. Even if you’ve worked several jobs and they are seemingly disconnected — find the common string between them. Did they have similar duties? Did you use a set of skills at every job, even though they were applied differently? What have you learned from what you’ve done so far and how does that lead you to where you are now — looking for this next step.
Startups are interested in well rounded candidates, who learn from their mistakes and have the capabilities to self-start, lead by example, with a no-job-is-too small attitude. Creating a balance of humility as well as confidence in your own expertise, is the key to writing strong cover letters and interviewing well.
Create Cohesion Across Profiles and Collateral
While telling your story, certain themes or words will appear and reappear. These are your key words and brand phrases. Continue to polish these and use them in your resume and cover letter, as well as on your website and social media. When an interviewer searches you, they should find consistency across all the information available for you.
If you don’t have a twitter, site, or landing page — consider making one. Try to keep it relevant to the work you do and the brand you’re building. Show interested employers that what you represent truly means something to you.
Everyone can have a portfolio — have visual aids around the work you’ve done; systems you’ve created or improved, sales you’ve closed, or things you’ve built.
Learn the Lingo
If you’ve never worked for a startup before and even if you have — it’s good to stay up to date on the buzzwords and key phrases floating around in the industry. What’s common across the job descriptions you’re coming across? What are industry leaders saying about your field? What are trending topics in startup culture?
Every company might have a different name for their Monday meeting (All Hands, Weekly Stand Up, Kick Off), but understanding that startups even call a company wide meeting at all is important to know.
Looking for a new job should be strategic. It will take planning, studying and some grunt work. But once you have a strong brand, half the battle is over. Writing cover letters and designing your resume comes faster; understanding if you’re a fit for a job comes easier, and your confident in your accomplishments and ability to contribute becomes stronger.