Scoring a Startup Job -

Scoring a Startup Job

Stan Ward

Stan Ward

January 6, 2016

Back in the day (seems like the dark ages by comparison!), bright young men and women would grovel at the chance to snag an interview with a corporate behemoth – preferably a multinational giant. The more packed the resume was with affiliations and extra-curricular activities, the better. Nowadays, the approach is a bit different. Yes, alliances are still important, but the Internet has given birth to a plethora of ways to connect, and to get your name (and face) in front of the all-important interviewer. This article provides some concrete tips for finding promising startups (especially tech startups) and landing a great job.

startupFirst, put your best foot forward by recognizing the power of keywords when you establish your all-important Linkedin profile – a must for all prospective hires. Companies will search for prospective employees on LinkedIn by keyword, so make sure all the relevant keywords that apply to you are listed (e.g. “social media,” “SEO,” “Java,” “SaaS,” “hardware startup,” “mobile apps,”  “html5,” “iOS,” “healthcare IT,” or whatever else best expresses your experience and skills. Linkedin can give you help in creating a profile and there are other help sources available. Be sure to include all pertinent professional organizations to which you belong.

To better understand the critical issues facing startups, including the myriad opportunities for cultures to clash, you should keep up to date by subscribing to emails about startups and startup websites. The adage about pounding the pavement still applies. Therefore, instead of blindly knocking on doors, you should attend as many startup career seminars as possible. Be crafty and multi-faceted in your approach by going where startup entrepreneurs go. In other words, follow the money to places where the bosses seek out the wheeler-dealers, i.e. AngelList and Seed money lists.

The next bits of advice revert to good old Linkedin again. Scour their pages to target specific executives or recruiters so you can go right to the source. You’ll no longer “shoot blindly” in a scatter-gun approach, but be more focused. Who knows, you just may have something in common with one or more of them. Be sure to check the many job-board websites, such as

If you’re finally beginning to feel your oats, perhaps it’s time to act proactively and email the CEO, key executive, or maybe even the founder. If you’ve previously had the foresight to scour the organization list and identify an existing employee of that company, you can now refer to that person in your contact to the aforementioned CEO or key executive.You might say you’re calling at a colleague’s behest, but in any event be sure to include some knowledge that demonstrates your familiarity with the firm.

It is also wise to say why you’d like to work there, and what you bring to the table. But remember to be brief and succinct, as CEO’S are busy people and will appreciate the brevity of your message or appeal. Don’t be discouraged if your initial doesn’t pan out immediately, and persist with another letter if there has been no action. You can surely send two letters, maybe even three, without being annoying. What do have got to lose?

If you’ve done the footwork and also had a bit of luck, you may score an interview. Don’t rest on your laurels yet – you’re only part of the way home. Thoroughly prepare for the interview with more diligent research. Determine to stand out in the interview by exhibiting knowledge of the company, and be primed to ask incisive, thoughtful questions of the interviewer. And finally, don’t forget to thank them for the interview. And while you’re at it, be sure to thank all the folks along the way who helped get you as far as you have. You never know when or where they may be useful in another job search. Good luck!.