Startups offer exciting opportunities to grow both professionally and personally. That is why I don’t blame all the hype surrounding the idea of working for one. I have been working for a startup for over 4 years now and I tell you, if you find a job at a startup, then you are in it for the ride.

Startups are always intriguing companies, especially for those who are full of zeal, ideas and enthusiasm to create something new. For people who have been working on the corporate side of things, startups also offer something fresh, and exciting.

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Why people love working for startups

If you need one word to understand why so many people, especially the younger generation, love working for startups, it’s this: Culture.

Culture often separates corporate jobs from startup ones. In a startup, it feels more like creating something really cool and not just feeling a small wheel in  a cog. There is a sense of ownership in your actions and you can see that your contributions directly affect the company. There is also this feeling of togetherness in fighting all the odds to achieve something great.

Venture for America puts it perfectly:

At a startup—especially a very small one—nearly every problem is an opportunity for you to step in and add value. Your coworkers are more likely to appreciate an action-oriented, problem-solving approach.

Venture for America (Click here to read more)


What startups are looking for

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One great thing about startups is that it’s rare for them to really care about your resume, or education, or experience.

Startups are more interested in your passion, drive, and your ability to buy in to the company vision. Here are what startup founders are looking for:

  1. Innovation
  2. Grit and Tenacity
  3. Passion for the Product
  4. Openness to Change and Learning

Innovation

Startups aim to disrupt their field. It means that they are willing to push the boundaries of their market and make changes that their potential consumers need and want. That is why it takes a lot of innovation.

This could be risky and scary but if you want to find a job at a startup, then you should be someone who is willing to innovate. This also means that you are not haphazardly driving into the dark and great beyond. Being innovative also means you should be able to identify risks and calculate how far your vision will take you.

Grit and Tenacity

Working for a startup sure sounds lovely because of the culture but it takes away a lot from you. You need to be gritty and tenacious because it’s rest-on-your-laurels-easy in a startup. Sure you have a lot of flexible working hours but remember, you have a lot of flexible working hours.

What I mean by that is that there are times where you need to work in the weekends, or on holidays just to push the product further into your roadmap. There will be times where you have to change so much that it’s hard to keep track, so you need to be gritty.

Remember that when you join a startup, it’s not just a job. It will become a lifestyle.

Passion for the Product

As I’ve mentioned earlier, to join a startup, you would have to buy in to the product and its vision.

This means that you have to share the same passion as your CEO does. Startup founders love people who understand what needs to be done. They also love those who feel strongly about their vision as much as they do.

To be passionate, you would need to be excited about what your product can do. And you have to mean it!

Openness to Change and Learning

Startups are fast-paced and there are changes almost every week. You could be focusing on one project last week and today you are working on a totally new one. The rate of change can be tiring but you would have to be open to learn from these changes.

In startup culture there is a thing they called growth mindset. Growth mindset is basically a school of thought that believes in constant and quick testing, multiple iterations and learning from almost everything you do.

You need to have the desire to improve on something and test out different ideas. You also need to be prepared for failure because I assure you, you will fail a lot of times. But you should also be happy enough to celebrate small wins because this makes you understand that what your mistakes are and what you can improve in the future.

To read more about change, learning and the growth mindset, click here.

How to Find a Job at a Startup

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  • Network
  • Look at Startup Jobs sites
  • Reach out directly

Network

Even in traditional corporate jobs, networking is essential to find the new career you want. But in the startup world, its importance is more highlighted since it is highly probable that they still don’t have an official HR staff that would add additional layers to the hiring process.

This means that the person hiring you will most probably be the CEO or someone in the higher ups of the startup company.

You can also frequent co-working spaces near you, and find startups that operate around your city. This will not only familiarize you with the startup atmosphere and how startups operate on a day-to-day basis.

Attending local tech conferences and events will also be a good way for you to network. Take as much time as you can doing this and meet people. You will be to shake hands with your prospective employers or even talk to them about their startup. (I tell you, they will be more than willing to do it).

Look at Startup Jobs sites

Websites like AngelList will help you find the startup job you want. Using this website, you can send your application to thousands of startups. You can even view the salary and equity details for each company.

Use websites like LinkedIn and Crunchbase to find out startup founders or employees near you. You can filter them by school, or by your other connections. You can also post something on your LinkedIn profile and ask around your network if they know startup jobs that you might be willing to take.

Other startup job sites:

  1. Github
  2. Startup.Jobs
  3. LinkedIn

Reach out directly

Perhaps the easy way to apply for a job at a startup is to contact them directly. Most startup websites also include a page for job openings at their company.

What  you need to do is to think and create a list of startups that match your skills and interests. Writing a cold email to them noting all the things you think will be able to contribute and what your experiences are will surely be noticed. And since most startups are quite small, the chances of you getting noticed by the key decision maker is high.

Conclusion

If you are willing to find a job at a startup, you would need a lot of determination, and grit. As I’ve mentioned, being in a startup isn’t simply a job. It will become your lifestyle. And I think that is the trade-off. In exchange for good working perks, potentially good career trajectory and the feeling of involvement, you would need to trade off your time, effort and commitment to it.

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