From a founder's perspective, one of the most exciting stages in starting Chicory was hiring our first employees--and I'll bet that's true for many founders. Welcoming new faces to the team is exciting and rewarding after all of the hard work spent finding that person who is just right.
I'll probably write a blog post one day about how to hire for a very early stage company. But I've had a lot of people come up to me asking about how they can "break into" the startup space. So here are 5 tips on how to get a job at a startup:
Pick a Stage
Not all startups are created equally. The term "startup" is used for companies with sizes ranging from 2 employees to 200+. Your experience at each startup is going to be very different depending on the stage of the startup.
There are some people that pride themselves on being "<10 employee people" (meaning they enjoy or specialize in working with companies that are in super early stages, less than ten employees) and others that specialize in later-stage growth. Talk to people at different companies to figure out what stage is best for you. Depending on where a company is at, you might be in more of an all hands on deck setting rather than in one where you can drill down and focus on a specific role.
Crunchbase and AngelList are Your Friends
AngelList is definitely one of the best tools for finding a job at a startup. Most companies post their positions on there and keep their profiles up-to-date. They've also launched some interesting features that help you to understand how you are connected to those companies.
What CrunchBase adds to the mix is the ability to tell the stage of a startup. You'll quickly be able to find out if a company has raised under a million dollars for a seed round or if they've raised $25M for their series B. Knowing funding dates and announcements can help increase your odds at getting hired because an injection of capital usually means increased hiring needs.
This is kind of an obvious one, but definitely see who in your network can get you an introduction to someone at a startup. Our very first employee came from an old high school friend that messaged me on Facebook out of the blue.
It's always good to get in front of the founders, especially in early stages when the CEO is most likely also the head of HR and recruitment. And even if you don't get a job through a meeting that you take, it's likely that the founders are somewhat connected in the space. Anecdotally, last fall, I connected with someone looking to get into the startup space through a mutual friend. While we didn't have a job opening for him, he ended up getting a job through a number of introductions that I had made.
One of the things that impressed me about the guy mentioned above was his commitment to actually working at a startup. A lot of my friends talk about it a lot but most don't have the guts to quit their jobs and take the plunge. Being able to show that will get you far.
Working at a startup can be really hard and you need to have a strong will to thrive. As much as you hate your corporate job or the mundane tasks you are told to do, don't really bring it up. Talk about how you are excited to be getting into startups and how taking ownership of a product and the future of a company is exciting to you. We need doers, not complainers.
Applying for a job on a site like AngelList or Monster is easy. One click and your resume gets sent over. But at a startup, we're looking for people who are able to take the extra step, the extra initiative to make things happen.
A well-worded, personalized, email can really set you apart from the rest of the pack. Our latest hire didn't come through any of the job postings that we had put out. Instead, he emailed us explaining how his prior experiences were an ideal match for the salesperson that we were looking for.
Another small thing to note regarding emails is to always follow up. It honestly baffles me how many people don't send follow up emails after an interview. In any capacity, whether it is a meeting or an interview, it's incredibly important for your personal brand to send that follow up and thank a person for their time.
So that's that. Feel free to reach out with any questions! Oh, and take a look at the openings we currently have at Chicory.