How to Get a Job in a Startup


This column is by Anjli Jain, Managing Partner at EVC

People who have never worked at a startup before have a particular idea about what it’s like to work at a startup (from hearing about it from friends, reading blog posts, etc.).

It’s important to approach this as more of an exploratory phase to determine if you will like it or not, as opposed to something you are 100% sure you want to do and that you know is the right thing for you.

A lot of people will join a startup, leave, and then go back to corporate life. Mainly they expect the same linearity as in established corporates and process to guide them while most startups tend to rely on frugal innovation before they build processes. Startup life can manifold but tense, it might not be for you, and it is okay if it isn’t.

Be Clear About What Exactly Can You Do for Them

A good startup is wary on employing too many people who act as generalist. If you really want to work for a startup be ready with your elevator pitch. What exactly can you do for them and how much of that can you deliver?

Don’t just tell that you can work in marketing or around PR. Tell them that you can generate 10 media features per month and this is how you are going to them or that you will grow their email list by xxx subscribers within the next 6 months. Be as specific as you can startups do not need consultants.

Provide Value to the Company First

Engage with their content and show interest in their current ways. Unfortunately most job seekers prefer to follow the old and conventional ways of searching jobs and sending CVs in a bulk. Most good startups including those I’ve funded would not even be interested in your CVs but your ability to deliver value to them. Are you a designer? Design few quick screens for their app and send it to them for free. That’s all the resume you will ever need.

When you are ready to connect and reach out, do it in a way where you provide value first. Show up to help before asking for a job.

Has the Founder Built a Startup Before?

A successful exit before means that the founder knows the industry, a jack of the trade and has plenty of industry connection to help him reach his milestones early enough including investors. If you are to choose between a rookie who promises you the entire galaxy and the serious founder with few successful exits behind him go for the latter

Have a Digital Presence

Startups are tight on budget, which is why they are also searching for easy ways to find the right candidates, says Udi Lokesh from India based startup EdTechReview. If you have a good digital presence and you are active on social networking websites, this can surely help you land a job in a startup. Community that pays attention is a rare and highly appreciated community in a world that just cannot keep quiet.

Make Sure You Can Wait Long Enough

Good companies grow faster than the market and hence they tend to remain private for longer in other to maximize the value of their stakeholders and investors. By longer I mean on average 7 years while the average tenure of employee nowadays in a company is not more than 3 years. Are you a believer enough to give 7 years of your life in the startup you plan to work in?

Don’t Just Fall for Stock Options

Many employee options sound good on paper but they rarely materialize. If the company is to get closed, those with preferential stocks like investors are the first one to cash before you. Therefore look for companies that have clear path towards profitability. Are they already generating revenues and cash flow by the time you join them? Look for that sign.

Startup life can bring you to burnout faster than any other project you’ve worked on. Take care of all of your needs and then you will have more freedom, be able to demonstrate greater competence at your job, and have better relationships with the people you work with.

Disclaimer: This is a guest column. The statements, opinions and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of iamwire and the editor(s).

Image Credit: Talentniti

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