Baskin Robins’ got nothing on these guys. Who wants a boring vanilla, corporate job, when you’ve got 32 flavors of startups right here? From a startup that hosts in-home lingerie parties (a la Tupperware circa 1974) to a startup whose job is to get people jobs. They’re all here.
And they’re telling you exactly how to get the job. Not just their jobs, any startup job.
Because if you want a job with a startup–and why wouldn’t you since that’s where the jobs are–you better not be using the same old, tired tactics your dad used twenty years ago. Cause you know where that will get you? Sitting on the same couch with your old, tired dad. (No offense Dad.)
So grab a big spoon and dig in, cause here’s the definitive scoop on how to get a job with a startup. (♥ Denotes a startup hiring today!)
Entrepreneurs are busy. Don’t have time to go to the bathroom, busy. So if you want to get their attention, you need to get in front of them. Know where they live on-line. Attend the conferences they attend. Get in their face. Repeatedly. Sound like the beginnings of a restraining order? You’d be surprised; check out what these five entrepreneurs say about it. (And note—each one is looking to be stalked right now.)
Steven Sashen - CEO, Feel the World, Inc. ♥
Keep beating down the door until they say YES. In fact, we won’t hire anyone unless they repeatedly ask to work for us. Begging is even better. And if you don’t fit what we’re looking for, we’ll find something for you… if you ask often enough. Enthusiasm is the most important job skill that we look for. Evangelism is an even better one.
Caroline Callaway - President, Bolt Public Relations ♥
Follow me on Twitter and RT what you find interesting; like my company on Facebook and comment on interesting posts; connect with me on LinkedIn; leave comments on my blog; send me a handwritten note, maybe congratulating me on the startup or recent success; find out what organizations I’m a part of and attend the events; drop me emails with interesting articles; and personally deliver your resume to my office (if I have one). If I know someone is hungry for a job at MY start-up, not just a job, he or she is going to have a really good shot with all of the above.
Jay El-Kaake - CEO, Sweet Tooth Rewards ♥
Engage the company/entrepreneur on Twitter, and make commentary about what they do (make it positive). Once the company responds to engagement, ask for a meeting over coffee. We don’t have time to go over resumes and applications. We hate it.
Brooke Braswell - Principal, CanWeNetwork, LLC ♥
The applicant aggressively pursues me, is persistent and brief. A three line email: Hey Brooke, Saw your company on techcrunch.com, I have incredible success in x or y (or I will work with the same passion and tireless effort as you ) – can I have three minutes of your time, I don’t need much notice. Here is my linked in profile. (Tip #2: we are always hiring someone great.)
Pamela O’Hara - CEO, Batchbook ♥
Engage. Startups are small, fast-moving, and socially adept companies. Spend some time getting to know the founders or key employees on Twitter. If possible, go to the same events as startups and meet the founders first hand. Strike up conversations and build relationships. When there is an opening that you are a good fit for, you will already be halfway in the door. Engaging has the important side benefit of helping you identify startups you would want to work at. Getting along with co-workers and feeling the vibe of the culture is extremely important, so when you already know each other, even a little, it really helps.
Show, Don’t Tell
When you’re trying to get into a startup, it’s not about your resume. Forget what you’ve done in the past, and show what you can do today, for this company, in this moment. In this moment, all seven of these entrepreneurs are looking to be impressed.
Jake Cohen – Co-founder, Privy ♥
Do a funny stunt that is relevant to the business and attention getting. Example, for us (we help businesses publish and sell custom offers from their online properties), design something that says we just bought a promotion for the greatest (enter your desired job title) ever. Send it to us and make it look cool. We’ll notice and if your skills match your desired job, we’ll hire you.
Sandip Singh - Founder and CEO, Go Get Funding ♥
Solve a problem for a company that they didn’t know existed. For example, tell them why you believe specific changes to a landing page will improve conversions. If you’re a coding specialist, provide them with a snippet of code that fixes an unusual CSS issue you’ve spotted. By doing this you prove that you have a genuine interest in the company and the skills to solve problems straight away and on your own initiative – something all busy startups are looking for.
Raj Sheth – Co-founder & CEO, Recruiter Box ♥
The one thing that will make me turn my head: Tell me something about my business that I do not know. That will tell me that you will be immediately valuable in taking some load off, and making a contribution.
Alex Schiff – Co-founder & CEO, Fetchnotes ♥
My favorite hiring story thus far was when someone signed up for our beta, used our product and then emailed us a list of feedback (positive AND negative), and then mentioned he was a web developer and would love to work with us. We responded with a request to interview him that day, and now he does most of our front-end work!
Kenny Kadar - Founder and CEO, Night Tap ♥
One tip that for gaining employment at a startup, is to immediately offer ideas to improve the company/expand the revenue stream. Startups are not looking for order takers who are going to do exactly what the founders want, and nothing more. Startups want independent thinkers who can dream outside the box and have the ability to take a vision and build upon it. We need people who are going to hit the ground running and demonstrating that you have ideas to immediately help the business will get a startup’s attention more than anything else.
Anthony Feint - Founder, Pen.io ♥
My one tip: Code speaks louder than a resume. A link to a portfolio or a Github profile tells me more about the candidate then any resume can.
Larry Kim - Founder and CTO, WordStream ♥
The job searcher should think about the pain point of the startup and seek to fill it. This tells me that they are startup minded, ready to present their skill, and a problem solver.
Love Me (and my company)
Nothing will get you a startup job faster than being in love with the startup. Not the perfect skillset. Not the perfect references. Nothing. Prove you’re passionate about what the company is doing and they’ll be passionate about hiring you.
Ryan Woodall, TK - Pinnacle Tutoring ♥
As the owner of two businesses, I can tell you that the biggest fear I have with employees is that they will simply not care as much about the company as I do. My recommendation is to show your willingness to commit to the project beyond a paycheck. This doesn’t simply mean saying, I’ll work overtime. On your resume and cover letter, I’m looking for some evidence that you go beyond the stated minimums of your position. Show additional projects, exceeded standards, volunteered expansion of your position. Startups are hungry, and need hungry people.
Patrick C. Brown - Founder, Occam Education ♥
Passion. Startups require passionate employees even more so than larger companies because the hours/responsibilities are not always justified by the salaries. Producing a mock marketing plan prior to an interview or volunteering services on an internship basis to demonstrate your value are two ways candidates distinguish themselves as *truly* passionate candidates.
Yael Levey - Founder, dreamBIGLY
My one tip would be to demonstrate passion from the get-go about the problem the startup is trying to solve. The most impressive candidates are those that have applied off their own bat, many times without an open position even being advertised, and who make a strong argument for why my company and our problem needs them to come on board. If this is demonstrated up front, and I can see that the candidate understands what we are trying to achieve and is passionate about wanting to help solve that problem, then I’ll always call them in for an interview.
Bryant Quan - CEO, Slickdeals, Inc. ♥
Every single person that we have and will ever hire has to be familiar with our company. During our earlier years as a startup, the greatest advantage we had was being the pioneers in our space and if our employees didn’t believe in our idea, then we would not have been as successful as we are now. Our employees are our biggest assets and innovators and we had to know that we were all on the same page in terms of goals for the company and our users. So, my top tip for getting a job with startup is definitely knowing and truly believing in whatever startup it is.
Tiffany James – CEO, UndercoverWear
The One Thing that would get my attention immediately is: Passion. Passion about MY Company and MY vision. Their Passion MUST equal My Passion!
Mike Astringer - Founder and CEO, Human Capital Consultants, Inc. ♥
Prove that you get the culture. Most Founders and people working in startups can see right through someone who is just talking. You have to fully commit that you want to work in a startup, that you understand both the sacrifices and potential long-term rewards and that this is what you really want in your career. You have to be willing and able to live it and express that passion to the Founder and his/her team. Even if your technical skills are not right on target prove to the Founder that you get it, that you are the right cultural fit for a startup and that you are committed and chances are you will be successful landing a job in a startup.
Be Flexible (And look good in hats. Lot’s of hats.)
If you’re looking for a job with a clear job description, start looking somewhere else. In a startup, everyone does everything. Prove you understand that, and that you are up for the challenge.
Dana Marlowe - Principal Partner, Accessibility Partners, LLC ♥
Flexibility is without a doubt one of the most important characteristics I look for when I’m looking at new employees. A lot of job seekers are looking to fulfill a specific niche or need in a company, but I need someone who can fit a bunch of roles. Within a startup, you don’t have an accounting, billing, or HR department at your disposal. I would highly recommend that a job seeker specifically state they’re willing to adapt to new roles at any whim and demonstrate their ability to wear a lot of hats. This goes a lot further than listing competencies with generic programs or other things that are nice, but not useful in a fast-paced startup.
Brett Brohl - CEO, Scrubadoo ♥
Candidates should always emphasize that they are eager and willing to help out and work in every area of the company, not just the area they specialize in. Our finance person always has to pitch in during marketing meetings etc. It’s all hands on deck for everything here. We all wear a lot of hats.
John Max Miller – CEO, GrandSlam Alley, Inc. ♥
Vertical in talent, broad in desire. In order to get a job with a startup, you need to possess the talent needed by the startup but be willing to do anything and learn anything. Startups do NOT follow a specific path. In today’s fast-paced world, products pivot many times once they are released and an employee needs to be open minded to going with that flow of change. (And, there will be days you need to mop the floor and take out the trash.)
Jennifer Ryan - Professional Organizer & Motivating Force, Create New Order, Inc. ♥
The number one tip that will get my assistant his/her new job is to assure me that anything I need them to do, they will do. I need a person who can catch and throw at the same time with the positive energetic attitude a fast-growing business like mine needs. If attitude, loyalty and resiliency walks through the door, the rest is simply training.
Robert G. Rose – Founder & Exec Producer, AIM Tell-A-Vision Group ♥
Here you go…it’s very, very simple. Startups are looking for people with entrepreneurial skills…the kind of person who doesn’t look at a gig as a 9-5 responsibility, but one who will pitch in and do whatever is needed; from taking out the garbage to contributing to a marketing plan to helping to write a human resource manual. Startups are chaotic and usually don’t have built-in policies and procedures, or if they do, they quickly outgrow them. They need employees who are flexible and willing to do whatever, whenever to make a company succeed and ideally treat the business as if it were their own. A person should have done their research and come in with ideas on how they specifically can contribute to a company’s success.
Shara Senderoff – Co-founder and CEO, Intern Sushi ♥
To get noticed by a startup, you have to rise above the stack of resumes piled sky high on the hiring manager’s desk. Sure you’re a young, creative individual, ripe with ambition, fresh ideas and unseen talents—now the trick is to communicate that to employers. Startups rarely have the resources for quantity so they focus on quality; they are looking for candidates that can wear many hats so showcase your versatility and ability to problem-solve. Describe an experience where you succeeded despite all odds. Startups also hunt for creative minds, so think outside the box and present yourself in a way only you can. If you don’t, enjoy the view from the middle of the daunting pile of resumes.
Stand Out and Stand Up
Getting the entrepreneur’s attention is half the battle. The other half is proving that you ‘get it’ and are willing to do it.
Kari DePhillips – Co-founder, The Content Factory ♥
My one tip for getting hired at a startup is this: stand out from the crowd, because you’re probably competing with at least a dozen other people for the job. I’ve seen people put images in their resumes, write quirky cover letters and even demonstrate their social media prowess by hounding us on Twitter until we finally caved in and granted an interview. If you don’t stand out, you’ll be lumped with everyone in the more of the same pile (and none of those people ever get hired).
Brennan White - Co-founder and Managing Director, Pandemic Labs ♥
Email the founder out of the blue. As a founder, he/she will always check emails (they could be incoming leads!). So send an email directly to them. In your email be less formal, more honest/direct/interested. Founders of companies are generally brutal prioritizers and will delete your email if it feels boilerplate or boring in the first sentence (or even in the overall look/size of the email). Make the email short and sweet. If you can, immediately make an offer of some type (Upon hiring I’ll be happy to help connect you with the decision makers at my last position etc). Alternatively, as most startups are cash-conscious, offering to prove your worth before being guaranteed anything will work massively in your favor.
Craig Bloem - Founder & CEO, FreeLogoService.com ♥
Tip: Knock on the door and show ambition, passion and a get it done attitude. I had one intern who literally drove 45 min to the office knocked on the door and nicely asked if she could trouble me for 15 minutes of my time. Obviously, it would be a problem if everyone did this but in a world of email and social media this young woman made an impression and received 15 minutes of my time.
Mike Scanlin - CEO, Born to Sell
Explain that you know that in a startup there is nowhere to hide and everyone has to pull their weight. You are excited about the fact that your personal, individual contributions will have a direct impact on the success or failure of the company. And, don’t ask about the vacation policy during the interview.
Todd Davis – CEO, Lifelock ♥
Demonstrate the ability to be disruptive in a previous organization. Do not try to sell yourself, but discuss more what your experience has been and what traits you have developed from it.
Justin Palmer - Founder & CEO, MedSaverCard
At startups, hiring is crucial and risky because every person matters. Help take the risk out of hiring you by offering your services to them for free or at a low-cost. If they’re a growing company and they like your work, odds are they’ll find a position for you very quickly.
Martha McCarthy – Co-founder and Managing Partner, The Social Lights, LLC ♥
We recently posted a new position and are getting flooded with resumes and cover letters. Most of them get a mere glance, but those that have clearly done their homework get much more attention. Applicants that pull information from our tweets, blog posts, client list and case studies to pepper their cover letter (and demonstrate that they actually know what we do), in addition to why they are a great fit for our company, get to the keep pile (or in our case, dropbox folder). Creative email subject lines get bonus points!
Suki Shah – Co-founder and CEO, GetHired ♥
Entrepreneurs at startups are looking for fresh perspectives — and for candidates who can quickly look at a company, determine what that company needs to be successful, and then do it. Even an employee with no formal training, but solid transferable skills, can drastically improve the productivity and innovation within your organization. And so, create a multimedia resume that fully encompasses your past work experience to help differentiate you from other job seekers. Apply for jobs that you are interested in and passionate about . . . often entrepreneurs will hear you out of you can talk about a specific problem that needs solving in their industry, and how you are the person to solve it, despite formal training.
So Here’s the Scoop
Interested in these startups? Start stalking them–right here, right now. (Cue Jesus Jones, please.) Pitch them in the comment section. Ask them questions about their startups. Or just flatter them; tell them how much you love their company. Don’t be shy. Get in their face. Get the dialogue going. I’ll make sure they see it. I can’t guarantee you a job, but I can guarantee I’ll get you noticed. And who knows what other entrepreneurs might notice you as well.
And check back over the next few weeks. I’ll be posting in-depth video interviews with a few of these hotshot entrepreneurs. Giving more info on the jobs, how to get the jobs, and other juicy stuff. Like what business buzzwords make them want to pour acid in their ears. Always good to know before sitting down for an interview.
I’ve already interviewed Arjun Dev Arora from Retargeter. (Not even on this list, but he’s hiring!) And Caroline Calloway from Bolt PR and Brennan White from Pandemic Labs listed above. Dying to learn more about one of the others? Tell me in the comment section. We’ll get it done.
So good luck. And go get ‘em!
Photo credit: Magone via Shutterstock (Baskin Robins is a trademark of BR IP Holder LLC)