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How To Get A Job At A Startup

How To Get A Job At A Startup

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If you would like to work for a company like Facebook, Google, Pinterest, or Dropbox from the beginning, you must understand that you’re facing an entirely new challenge.

It is basically the opposite to choose to work in an established company like Nike, McDonald’s or Starbucks. Startup processes are not defined. They can change quickly and are constantly updated or revised.

How To Get A Job At A Startup

After working for six years on our project elMejorTrato.com, I’d like to share three fundamental steps to get a job at a startup:

1. Adapt To Constant Change

Simple as it may seem, this is nevertheless the most important and complex step of the process.

The only constant in successful startups is change. There are no regulations, policies, or procedures defined, and even the culture of the company is going to be formed with time.

If you want to work in a startup, you should demonstrate your ability to adapt to an uncertain future. For example, if it is necessary to move to another city in order to expand the startup geographically or to learn some skills to fill one or more roles at the same time, you should show the willingness and ability to do it.

When a founder of an enterprise is in front of different candidates, he/she is going to choose the one that shows more flexibility instead of the one with more experience. This principle is usually the opposite of one an established company –with many years of experience in the market—would take into account.

The reason for this is based on what a startup represents: a roller coaster with many ups and downs. The candidate who has the ability to effectively adapt to change will be the right one for the vacancy, since flexibility is valued more than experience.

For example, we have one candidate with 10 years of experience programming PHP, and another candidate that has only two years of experience. The startup is deciding to change its system out for a newer one. In this situation, the second candidate will probably get the job if he/she  presented himself/herself as less averse to change and should be more useful, especially if the new system is one the more experienced candidate hasn’t been heavily involved with.

2. Be Proactive

Another factor that you need to take into account is your attitude.

If your preferred working way is following predetermined procedures, it means that you need to explain in great detail every step that you take in order to complete an activity. That is the opposite of how it would happen in a startup.

At most well-run startups,  everybody has the ability to be an entrepreneur. The ability to complete a task is the ultimate goal, and being able to find what you need to carry it out successfully without help is critical. The road is not written; only the end is defined. You often have to find your own path to reach the goal. The best way to demonstrate this attitude in a startup job interview is by exposing everything you have done at work or school independently.

At the end of the day, what a founder looks for in a new employee is a  problem solver (a person that has the ability to provide solutions on their own hands) with a proactive attitude.

3. Generate Added Value

It is here where the great candidate is defined.

Generating added value for employers is best accomplished by providing something that the founders do not have themselves.

For example, if you apply for a job in a technological startup where the founders are programmers, then your differentiated offer should feature skills like marketing, communication, selling and designing, among others.

It is not a problem to have no prior experience. Focus on your ability to adapt to what the company needs, and to develop a proactive attitude that allows you to learn what it takes to do so without excuses.

In the past, we hired a designer because we take care of the programming code. While time passed, we needed an expert in online marketing, something that we were unaware of. However, the designer we hired –whom we admired for her perseverance—proposed to solve the problem and start taking care of it all; she is getting new customers from four different countries now.

Bringing added value to a business is a huge advantage in landing a job with a startup (or many other companies for that matter). It will help get you a new job and also help you grow quickly as a professional.

This advantage is definitely not going to be found in a big corporation, where jobs are already defined and your activities are fully structured, with no possibility of innovation and growth in the short term.

Working at a startup may be challenging, but they can be a valuable opportunity for personal and professional growth. In every crisis, new opportunities are born and a startup is the ideal context to handle them. If you are allowed to make mistakes and learn from them (as opposed to not making any mistakes), you will get better at a much faster pace and help create solutions to problems you may not have had a hand in before.

In conclusion, each of these keys can be useful when somebody is looking for a job in a startup. If you exhibit these traits in your job application, you can stand out from the other applicants and show you’re the perfect candidate. Being able to live in constant change, always providing solutions, eliminating problems and delivering value that did not exist before will be your greatest ally. Good luck making the startup you work for the next big thing!


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Rennella Cristian Rennella Cristian ia an engineer and the creator of the first comparing service oMT for Brazil in Latin America.