I saw two conflicting stories yesterday that sum up the differences between the corporate world and the startup world. One story said companies should hire on expertise alone. The other said it’s all about passion.
If you can’t guess which one of these entrepreneurs agree with, you won’t get a job at a startup.
Here are four other differences between corporate jobs and startup jobs you must understand:
1. Past vs. Future
To get a corporate job you need to prove what you’ve done in the past. You need to show that you’ve already got the goods, and you’ve already done similar work. You prove that with a strong resume full of action verbs like led, generated and exceeded.
To get a startup job, you need to prove what you can do in the future. Unless you were employee #1 at a very hot startup, there’s nothing on your resume that will a). get the attention of a hiring entrepreneur or b). even get read. When it comes to resumes and your past experience, entrepreneurs say “blah, blah, blah.” (I kid you not, that was a quote.)
The difference: What you did in the past is yesterday’s news. To get a job at a startup, tell them what you will do tomorrow.
2. Mouth vs. Ears
Interviewing for a corporate job requires a lot of talking. You talk with the recruiter. You talk with HR departments. You talk with hiring managers and potential teammates. You talk to prove that you know what you’re talking about. You talk to get the job.
Interviewing for a startup job requires a lot of listening. Listening to the story of the business. Listening to where the idea came from and how the business has grown. Listening to how much fun has been had, and how crazy the ride has been. You listen to prove that you’re fascinated by the business. Cause if you’re not fascinated by the business, you shouldn’t be working there.
The difference: A startup interview is not about you. It’s about the business, and your interest in the business. Prove that you’re fascinated by corking your pie hole and being completely absorbed by the story.
3. Pedigree vs. Mutts
Want a job at Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, McKinsey or Citigroup? Get your degrees in order. A college degree is a minimum requirement to entry. For the bigger, better jobs its best have an MBA. Its better to have an ivy league one.
Want a job at a startup? Start by forgetting the fact that you went to school. Entrepreneurs believe in doing, not studying. If you were the right fit for a startup, you would have spent those years starting something.
The difference: What you’ve studied is purely academic. To get a startup job, all that matters is what you can do. Hide the degree and talk about that.
4. Money vs. Cash Flow
When interviewing for a corporate job you’ll negotiate your salary. You’ll discuss things like 401K matching and vesting. You might even talk about stock and bonus plan. All these things will be sorted out, tied up neatly with a bow, and offered up for your signature.
When interviewing for a startup job you’ll talk about cash flow. In startups, cash is king and salaries are the enemy. You might be asked to take a pay cut. You may even be asked to work for free. They’re not lowballing you with their first offer expecting you to negotiate. They’re telling you what they’ve got. And if you want to work there, you should take it.
The difference: If you’re taking the job for where the job will take you financially, a corporate job is the answer. If the benefits and perks that come along with the job never crossed your mind, you’ve got the right mindset for a startup.
Which brings us back to the experience vs. passion studies. The bottom line is this; experience won’t get you a job at a startup. Passion will. So if you’re passionate about the business…if you already know how you want to help, if, when they offer you a giant lint ball as compensation for your work, it feels like Christmas morning…then you’ve got the passion. Go get the startup job.
Have you gotten a startup job without being passionate about the company? Did you last?
Entrepreneurs, would you rather have an employee who is excited about the business or who has expertise to share?