Want to Work For a Startup? This one tip will get you the job

The Fabulous Rachel Zoe

Want a job with this entrepreneur? It’s easier than you think.

Want to work for a startup? All you have to do is nail the interview with the entrepreneur. No worries though; that’s the easy part. If you do this one thing.

Get that Startup Job

Don’t agonize over your skill set. Don’t stress over your references. Don’t sweat your resume. (Definitely don’t sweat your resume, there’s a very good chance it will never get read.)

The number one most important thing you can do to get a startup job is much easier than you think.

Ask any entrepreneur and they’ll tell you the same, the most important thing you can do to get a startup job is….be enthusiastic.

Yup. It’s that simple.

“Because I’m so obsessed with the type of person this is, and the characteristics of this person, that I care more about the kind of person you are than actually what you can do.” Rachel Zoe (above) explains to Jeremiah, a waaaaay under qualified job candidate. (“Rachel Zoe Project” BravoTV)

Uh, huh. I just quoted reality TV as the source for this advice, but that’s only because:

a). it is dead-on accurate,

b). it freakishly presented itself to me on the same day I was writing this post

c). who doesn’t love them some reality TV? (It’s okay, you can still pretend you don’t. It’ll be our secret.)

In a shell of a nut, the fabulous Ms. Zoe has given you the best startup job search advice you’re ever gonna get. And she did it wearing vintage Channel.

There’s enthusiastic, then there’s this guy. Don’t be this guy.

B-excited, B, B-excited

In the world of startup jobs, it’s not what you know. It’s not even who you know. In the world of startup jobs it’s all about how you act.

Ba-na-nas. Right? Okay enough with the Rachel Zoe references.

Want some proof not found on BravoTV? Fine.

Recruiting super star Rayanne Thorn (@Ray_anne) sang the same tune in a recent radio interview. During “I’m a person not an Application” on View From the Top, she told the story of a startup she worked with where almost 80 people were hired in one year.

“At some point it didn’t even matter what they knew,” she explained. “My CEO said, I can train anybody to do anything, but if they don’t fit in here, it’s never going to work.“

See what I’m saying?

Sound counter intuitive to everything you’ve ever been told about interviewing? Welcome to the bizarro world of startups and entrepreneurs.

If this is your first time riding this startup ride, listen to your guide; keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times, and focus on something in the distance so you don’t hurl when it starts getting bumpy. Cause it’s gonna get bumpy.

Then, go be enthusiastic.

The Rest of the Story

Wondering if young, inexperienced Jeremiah got the job? Of course he did. Despite the fact that there were candidates with gobs more experience, enthusiastic Jeremiah landed the coveted job with Rachel Zoe.

“I can definitely see that Jeremiah is a little green,” Rachel justified. “But his enthusiasm and his wanting to be here, I think overrides that.”

Ba-na-nas. (sorry)

Looking for a job with a startup? Got questions? Need advice? Let me know. Shoot me an email though the Contact page, or drop your question in the comments below. 

About the author: Kathy Ver Eecke works with startups in the early stages, where the good stuff happens. Download a free copy of her ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Getting Any Startup Job, if you’re trying to break into a startup or if you’re hiring employees for your startup.


  • Bryce Christiansen

    Reply Reply September 12, 2011

    That’s funny, it’s something we subconsciously know but never fully grasp. I liked the first quote and it reminded me of a part of some show my wife was showing.

    It was a reality tv show about a tatoo parlor and the owner’s brother was assigned to hire a new secretary. He ended up hiring a complete dud, but justified it because she was so passionate and excited that he chose her over the others.

    Great point, thanks for sharing.


    • Kathy Ver Eecke

      Reply Reply September 12, 2011

      See, yet another life lesson learned from reality TV. And people say it’s mindless crap. pfft.

      It seems crazy, but I swear it works. If you’re passionate about the entrepreneur’s company you’ve won more than half the battle. It also helps if you’re not a total buffoon, but really even that isn’t as important as showing enthusiasm for the job.


  • lizzie

    Reply Reply September 12, 2011

    Aw yeah, startups are fueled by enthusiasm and if you’re not at least 3/4 as enthusiastic as the owner, peace.

    • Kathy Ver Eecke

      Reply Reply September 13, 2011

      Lizzie: Fo shizzle. The enthusiasm has got to stay the whole live long day. I’ve known plenty of really qualified, hard working people who never stood a chance of succeeding in their startup simply because they didn’t appear excited.

      Great point muchachita.

      And I’m assuming ‘peace’ is how the cool kids say peace out these days. Right? I’m hoping I sounded just as cool with the decade old Snoop talk at the beginning. Did it work?

  • Grady Pruitt

    Reply Reply September 15, 2011

    Enthusiasm really does make a difference! It makes whatever you are doing more fun, and people can really tell when you are full of it.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Kathy Ver Eecke

      Reply Reply September 19, 2011

      Grady –
      Not sure if you’re being funny with the ‘people can tell when you are full of it’ comment. But I agree with you either way; both meanings are correct!

      Thanks for the comment!

  • Deacon Bradley

    Reply Reply September 18, 2011

    Very true, and I’d also point out it extends much farther than the interview. Your future startup boss is busy. VERY busy. In fact, they may be SO busy they don’t have time to interview people for the job they desperately need to fill.

    If you want to work for a startup, go get yourself a job at a startup. Guaranteed they will be impressed if you can save them some time and make yourself stand out. Attend an event they host. Tweet the founder some helpful info. Send them a helpful bug report and tell them how much you want to be a part of their team.

    Oh, and I worked at a startup and interviewed a LOT of people. Dead on about the enthusiasm. We spend a lot of time and energy together so you’d better be stoked! hah.

    Great post Kathy!

    • Kathy Ver Eecke

      Reply Reply September 19, 2011

      Hey Deacon – Thanks for the validation! And I couldn’t agree with you more on some of the steps you mention to get the attention of the busy entrepreneur. Thanks for sharing them, great tips.

      (Like the stoked reference too, click through you link to your blog!).


  • Astro Gremlin

    Reply Reply July 11, 2012

    Entrepreneurs and start ups have everything on the line, a fast “burn rate” and they want to know you’re with them. When the wagons are in a circle, do you want a Gloomy Gus, however talented? No, you want someone who is ready to got to the mat!

    • Kathy Ver Eecke

      Reply Reply July 12, 2012

      Cartoon AND Godfather references in one comment…well done Astro. And point taken.

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field