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Come along for the ride: Getting a job at a startup

Come along for the ride: Getting a job at a startup inploi Team | 06.09.2016

Thinking that a 'conventional career' isn't for you? inploi's Marketing/PR Manager, Victoria Bushnell offers her thoughts on getting a job at a startup - Are you ready for the ride?

Post-education, job hunting can prove a tiring, frustrating and time-consuming experience. No matter what sector you are looking to work in, trolling through job descriptions often proves an arduous and exasperating task. Considering companies so often boast how proud they are of their staff, company culture and their unique training for personal development, it never ceases to amaze how long it takes (after countless profiling questionnaires and psychometric tests) for candidates to get a face-to-face interview. So perhaps that is a small portion of the picture that draws candidates to apply and work for startups, where recruitment is still undertaken at a very individual level.

More often than not it is personal merit and extracurricular experience, whether that be independent entrepreneurial endeavours during school, teaching yourself to code, or attaining experience across different sectors, that makes individuals attractive and valuable to startups. Particularly in the founding months to a year of a company’s life, both founders and employees must wear multiple thinking (and working) caps in order to get their business off the ground.

It is also likely that at this stage in the company, said startup will comprise of a small team, working long hours in perhaps what would be deemed by many as not the most favourable working conditions. A new candidate’s character, willingness and ability to work in an intimate team are therefore also important factors for founders to consider when building their initial company cohort.

Startups often advertise positions through websites such as AngelList. However, making the effort to write a personalised (even if brief) email to the company founders shows confidence and the ability to think on your feet. If you undertake an open application, be prepared to tell the founders what you are looking for (perhaps a contractual rather than full-time role), and make sure you know what you can offer the company before you go for an interview.

Once hired, new recruits must be willing to learn fast, work hard, take the initiative and add more than their face value as they themselves become part of the company and build their own knowledge and experience within the sector. As David Ogilvy said, “if each of us…hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants”.

Startups are inherently risky, with an estimated 9 out of 10 failing after 4 years. But with that comes a diverse and hands-on learning experience; particularly for entry-level job seekers. There is no handbook for knowing how to run a business or plan your career. Sometimes it’s best to go along for the ride, and see where it takes you.

Enjoy this article? Check out it's sister article: Why Work for a Startup?

About the author: Victoria Bushnell is Head of Marketing/PR at inploi.

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