How to Get a Job at a Startup
8 min read
Joining a startup isn’t quite the same process as getting hired at an established company. You’ll probably have to take a little more initiative and think outside the box to find and get hired for a startup job. But if you’re up for the unique challenges and rewards of working at a startup, it’s well worth the hunt.
Is Working at a Startup Right for You?
Startups can certainly offer benefits, such as:
- Career growth
- Learning opportunities
- Greater independence and responsibility
- Equity in the company as part of the compensation package
- Purpose, meaning, and satisfaction in your work
On the other hand, it can have its downsides. Those may include:
- Lower salary than a standard corporate gig
- Less stability, consistency, and job security
- Long work hours without much time for a normal life
So before you ask how to get hired at a startup, make sure that the pros outweigh the cons for you. If you think you’d thrive more at a startup than a traditional company, go for it! It’s not everyone’s dream job, but it certainly can be yours.
Ready for a little adventure? Here’s how to get a job at a startup.
How to Find Startup Jobs
As the old saying goes, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” Networking is one of the best ways to open new doors to a career at a startup. That starts with reaching out to any friends or colleagues who may be able to help you find startup jobs.
Then, you can always look around LinkedIn to rekindle professional relationships or form new ones, either of which could lead to a career-changing job interview. Keep an eye open for recruiters, and try to make connections that count.
Patience is the key here. You may not find what you’re looking for overnight. Just keep trying, and see where it leads you. After all, the startup life is all about initiative and drive!
There’s more to job hunting on social media than just messaging recruiters.
First and foremost, follow the social media channels of any companies you’re interested in. Stay on the lookout for posts about job openings, and be ready to pounce if you see any. Often, the early bird gets the worm.
But even if you aren’t seeing any obvious hiring posts, you can still put yourself on a company’s radar by engaging with them. Do this by:
- Liking and commenting on their posts
- Joining conversations on their pages
- Sharing their content publicly
- Advocating for them on industry sites such as Quora or Hacker News
Not only will they become aware of you, you’ll also be providing them with concrete value by stimulating conversations and driving traffic to their profiles. People remember that sort of initiative and brand loyalty when hiring time rolls around.
Events and Organizations
Even if you don’t live in New York, Boston, or Silicon Valley, there are entrepreneurial communities and events all across the country that are perfect for meeting the right people. A quick Google search will show you local job fairs, conferences, and networking groups that could cross your paths with startup founders and employees.
Check out what’s happening in your area, then show up and make new friends. You can always ask for referrals to other worthwhile events, too, creating even more opportunities to find your dream company.
Attend as many events as you can, and don’t give up if things don’t click right away. Once again, patience is key.
Reach Out Directly
Sometimes, the best way to find a job at a startup is to just reach out. Look online or in a local business journal for startups in your region. Take note of each company’s history, value, and purpose, and see which ones seem most promising.
Then, once you’ve compiled a list of options that get you excited, contact them to let them know you’re interested. Explain what excited you about them and why you’d be a great fit for their team. Provide a link to your professional social media pages and lay out your experiences and skills.
Startups tend to be small, and it may only take an email or a LinkedIn message to connect with an employee who could bring you on board. Ask if you can grab coffee with someone in charge.
A cold call or email can be intimidating, but if you find a great job because of it, you won’t regret a thing. And even if you don’t get any leads, the worst that can happen is that they say no. You’ll be right back where you started, nothing lost.
Startups are looking for initiative. Demonstrate yours by starting the conversation.
The internet boasts countless job posting sites, many of which will have job openings for startups. Just search the keyword “startup” to see what options are available. You should find startup jobs in no time.
Other job posting platforms are dedicated exclusively to startups, such as:
Another great way to find startup jobs is through public organizational charts. Startups use org charts to show off their existing staff and list job openings, showing potential candidates exactly who they’d be working with and how the company functions.
How to Evaluate a Startup Company
How should you go about deciding whether a startup is a good fit for you? Here are a couple of big-picture strategies to help you make an informed decision.
Check out the startup’s website and look over their “About” page. Pay special attention to their mission statement and values. Do their priorities align with yours?
If they have a careers page, be sure to check that out to get an idea of what working with them would look like. Do you think you could feel fulfilled and rewarded as part of their team? Dig into their company culture and see if you’d mesh well.
Don’t just stick to what they say about themselves, either. Look at their Glassdoor profile to see what their current and former employees have to say about working for them. Then, find employees on LinkedIn and ask them for their opinion.
Organizational charts are another great way to learn more about a company. Check out who you might be working with if you joined, and contact them to see how well you’d get along. Find out if they’re happy with their job and if they’d recommend that you try to come aboard.
You might be surprised at the brutal honesty you’d get. Assumptions are always a shortcut to disappointment, so get a clear picture of what you’d be getting into before you make any commitments.
Not only will all this research help you weed out any companies that wouldn’t be right for you, but it will make it easier for you to pitch yourself to any company you end up shortlisting. With a clearer picture of how they operate, you can show them exactly why you’re the right person for the job.
No company is an island. You want to find a startup that’s poised for greatness, and that means knowing a bit about the market. Ask yourself questions like:
- What’s the potential for growth in this market?
- Who is their competition, and are they capable of taking those competitors on and winning the race?
- What features do they have in common with similar companies, and what sets them apart?
- What do they seem to be getting right, and where might they be able to improve?
Once again, this won’t just help you make your choice. It will also let you strike up a conversation with the company by providing real value. If you can suggest courses of action or point out potential weak spots in their strategy, you’ll separate yourself from the pack and showcase your initiative.
The more you understand the industry and a company’s main competitors, the more you can contribute — before and after getting hired.
Find Startup Jobs That Work for You
Working at a startup can be hard, stressful, exciting, and above all, rewarding. Find the best options in your area, do your homework, and learn about the team you’d be joining. Then, once you’re confident in your understanding of the company and the market it operates in, make your move.
That’s how to get a job at a startup. It may take some time, but eventually, you’ll be glad you went the extra mile.
If you’re not sure where to start the hunt, org charts can be the perfect first step. An org chart gives you a bird’s eye view of how each company operates and how you could contribute.
Click here to start applying for startup job opportunities today.