How to Find a Job at a Startup
Working at a startup has both advantages and disadvantages. Before you dive into applications for startup companies, it is important to assess whether the startup ecosystem is right for you.
Startups commonly require a high level of adaptability as they are built to scale. This could mean odd hours outside the traditional 9-5 work week, developing new skills quickly, or wearing a lot of hats. However, the reward is being a part of an innovative, fast-scaling environment set on changing their industry and maybe — the world.
Overall, it is important to determine whether this fast-paced environment is right for you before diving in. To get a better understanding of what it is like to work at a startup, read our in-depth guide. Otherwise, keep reading for a complete guide on how to find a startup job.
1. Do Your Research
Before you start applying for jobs in the startup world, you need to do some research first, beginning with the industries you’re interested in working in. This ensures you are well suited to any potential role. For example, a job in an insurtech company is going to differ vastly from a wellness startup, choose the industries you’re passionate about and, better yet, have experience in.
Next, research potential companies that meet your criteria and align with your values. During job searching, it is important to prioritize company culture fit as well as job fit to ensure you land in a workspace that works for you.
2. Explore Startup Job Posting Sites
While startup jobs can certainly be found on major job boards like LinkedIn and Indeed, there are platforms geared towards finding jobs within the startup ecosystem that may help you narrow down your search:
Formerly AngelList, Wellfound is a platform connecting startups looking for top talent with job seekers. The platform hosts over 27,000 companies and boasts over 95,000 hires made, making it a great place to look for your next startup job.
Y Combinator is an iconic accelerator that has backed massive startup companies such as Airbnb. Their job board is full of vetted startups seeking talented individuals to join their teams. This is a great resource for finding fast-scaling, noteworthy startups that are making waves.
If you’re looking exclusively for a tech startup, VentureFizz hosts job listings in New York, Boston, or remote. Many positions are tech-focused, making this a great resource for engineers and developers. However, they also post listings for project managers and customer service specialists.
Remotive is a remote-only job board with a section of its services dedicated solely to startup hiring. Their job listings include everything from human resources to full-stack development and everything in between.
3. Network Network Network
As with any job search, landing the role of your dreams is often made easier if you know someone on the inside. The best place to start is by leveraging your current network. Let the people you know that you’re job searching, especially if you have contacts at a startup or within a sector you’re interested in.
Another great option is attending startup events and conferences. Get proactive and introduce yourself to attendees while growing your network. Be sure to prioritize events in your area that are geared toward hiring.
Finally, you can network from the comfort of your own home. Connecting with founders, leaders, and employees of companies you’re interested in on LinkedIn is a great way to introduce yourself and convey strong interest.
4. Perfect Your Application Materials
Is it time for a resume tune-up? To better your chances of landing a startup job, you may need to tailor your resume to the startup environment.
This means presenting your skills to showcase commonly sought-after traits such as adaptability, problem-solving, multitasking, and effective communication. Furthermore, if you are in a line of work that warrants a portfolio or personal website to display your work and abilities, that may set you apart from other applicants.
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Finally, be sure to craft compelling cover letters. This is an opportunity to display your personality and drive to land the position, so be diligent about preparing a well-written letter tailored to the jobs you’re seeking.
5. Prepare for Interviews
Next, get ready for potential interviews. Trademarks of startup interviews include culture-fit questions, problem-solving scenarios to gauge your ability to think on your feet, and steps to ensure you align with the company’s mission and values.
The best way to prepare for this is to do diligent research on the company prior to the interview as well as prepare some questions for the interviewer. This may include questions about the company’s growth plans, funding, company culture, or challenges the startup may be facing.
6. Evaluate the Offer
Once you’ve received an offer, it’s not quite time to celebrate. The crucial last step in finding and landing the right startup job for you is to evaluate the offer.
Ensure that you are receiving all of the standard benefits you require, such as health coverage and reasonable salary. After this, you need to assess additions to the compensation package, such as perks, equity, and stock options.
This is more common in startup hiring than in larger corporations, so having a strong understanding of equity and stock options before accepting an offer at a startup is vital.
The Bottom Line
Working for a startup isn’t for everyone. Startup employees should be adaptable self-starters who are passionate about helping the company grow. They also need to be comfortable with the possibility of working longer hours and developing different skill sets, as startups typically require a higher level of flexibility than more established companies.
If you think a role at a startup company is right for you, make sure you’re doing your research, networking, and evaluating your offers to ensure you’re landing the right role for you.