Get the Referral
The fastest way to land an interview is when you receive a referral or recommendation from someone. Quite often, candidates who were referred by current employees or other trusted people get first dibs on an interview. Getting recommended by someone is the easiest way to connect with a start-up. Actually, this is pretty true for any type of business. If you have a contact, whether it be through a family member, friend or network who can refer you to a job or introduce you to an HR manager, it would be wise to spend some time and energy there — it will have the greatest payoff.
The power of networking can surprise you — it can often be the direct route to an interview. Seek out members of a start-up team, network with them, and then ask them for an intro to the HR manager. It’s pretty simple as long as you have the initiative. What’s the worst thing they can say? And how to go about finding these people? Try going to a conference or a panel. Entrepreneurs of start-ups will often present to get exposure and promote their product/service. Try to engage with the speaker after their talk or follow up with an email thanking them for their presentation and perhaps offering some interesting feedback or asking some follow up questions.
Feeling brave? Consider offering a suggestion for the company. Ask to meet over coffee, and then give value by giving thoughtful feedback on the start-up’s product/service. Most entrepreneurs will be glad to give you their time! Offering insight will show that you’re an idea person. Coffee is cheap, but ideas are priceless. After this meeting, if you have skills that the entrepreneur is currently looking for, you could land yourself in an interview without even realizing it. If you don’t have what the company is looking for at that time, don’t worry. Your new contact will definitely remember you because you did something to make you stand out from the pack — and will hopefully call you should an opportunity come up.
Apply with Oomph!
If networking is not an option, you may have to simply apply for the job. Don’t just send along your resume and cross your fingers — you have to go above and beyond to get noticed. Have a strategic online presence that shows off your abilities and exemplifies how you can make a difference in a start-up. If you don’t have a blog or portfolio, you may be way behind other applicants. You also shouldn’t focus too much on your resume. Even though resumes are important, to a start-up, they are just a small piece of the puzzle. Consider including some information about an interesting problem you solved or some industry ideas you have. Ensure that your cover letter is well thought-out and talks about the who, what, where, when and why you want to work for a start-up. If you’re still waiting to hear back, follow up! In this case, being passionate and excited about the business will only help you.
Have you ever worked for a start-up? Do you have any tips for getting hired? Let us know in the comments below.