Working at a start-up means every day is different. A start-up is a small business venture, usually with a smaller team, that has identified a problem or gap in the market and has decided to be the solution. Start-ups instigate change.
Neil Blumenthal is the co-founder and co-CEO of Warby Parker, an American online retailer of prescription glasses and sunglasses, based in New York City. He says “A start-up is a company working to solve a problem where the solution is not obvious and success is not guaranteed.”
How do you get a foot in the door of a start-up?
Getting to know people in the start-up community is seriously important. Not just for job opportunities, but to learn from their successes and mistakes, and get first-hand information about what it’s like working at a start-up. Plus, having connections helps. But where do you meet these people?
Otherwise known as accelerators or incubators, a hub is a local collective for start-ups and entrepreneurs. They’re all different, but a hub offers networking events, educational talks and is there to help you find the tools and resources you and your start-up have been looking for. Here is an amazing list of hubs around the world, compiled by famous entrepreneur Richard Branson’s team at Virgin, including articles on Sydney and Melbourne.
Recruiters and start-up job websites
Contact a recruitment agency, or browse a start-up job website (like https://angel.co/jobs) to get a sense of what’s going on in your city, country or the world. If you’re very lucky, the start-up of your dreams is advertising a position. But given the time and budget constraints on most start-ups, they often don’t advertise vacancies. Instead, they fill them by word-of-mouth, with recommendations from colleagues they can trust. That’s where the network comes in. If you don’t have that network yet, there’s no harm in reaching out directly.
Get in contact with a start-up you admire, or you want to work for. Do this by whatever means, as long as you keep it professional. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and email are all great. If you have a mutual acquaintance, ask them for an introduction. Before you do this, practice your pitch. You need to be able to tell them quickly and clearly why you want to work for them, what your relevant experience is and why you’ll be valuable to the team. Here are 9 tips to get the most out of LinkedIn.
Find a mentor
There’s no clear or concise method to finding a mentor. A mentor is a professional guardian angel, someone to bounce ideas off or ask for advice. They are usually someone who has a lot of experience and connections in the industry, who can offer you guidance and direct you towards opportunities. Have a read of 5 Reasons why you should seek a business mentor for more information on finding a great mentor match.
If you don’t have previous experience with a start-up, don’t be daunted by potential risk. The most common way into a start-up is from the ground floor. This is usually an unpaid internship, or a very basic entry level position. Be humble and patient, don’t expect your dream promotion to be waiting just around the corner. Plenty of highly successful people have been in your position before, and they put in the hard yards, time and effort to get to where they are now.
Take your application ‘out of the box’
A start-up is usually a progressive, creative environment. The very nature of their business is innovation. So to make your application stand out, don’t stick to a black and white two page typed document that will fall to the bottom of the barrel. Check out this Pinterest board for created CVs, or read about how to create the perfect cover letter (with a template) here. You could record an interview with yourself, make a little video, design a poster or a book. Make it personalised, and put some heart into it.
If you’re desperate for a job at a start-up, persistence pays off. Every new employee at a start-up is a gamble for a fledgling business, who have a tight budget and a close-knit team. Prove that you’re dedicated, willing to learn, and hard-working and your efforts will be rewarded.
Interested in a Business career?
Upskilled offers a range of business courses that you can study at your own pace, online. If you’re keen to begin your start-up career on the right foot, check out this range of flexible business courses you can do from the comfort of your own home.