11 Best Tips For Landing a Job at a Startup

What’s your best tip for landing a job at a startup? Please share any hiring stories you may have of early hires.

Startup hiring

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1. Be a team player

Working at a startup requires a unique set of skills beyond those listed in the job description; demonstrating that you are capable of doing the job is only half the battle. The best prospective startup employees are team players who are resilient, adaptable, driven and passionate. Showing that you also possess those characteristics is the best way to get in the door, so come with examples that prove to a prospective employer that you do.

Samuel Saxton, ConsumerRating.org

2. Demonstrate self-sufficiency

My best tip for landing a job at a startup is to prove you’re self-sufficient and willing to be flexible and adaptable. If you can demonstrate you’re willing to learn, you don’t need constant management, can find your own tasks, learn the skills you need and be willing to pitch in where required, you should get the job.

When I’m building a startup, I look for people like me. People who won’t need constant hand-holding and who will adapt and overcome whatever challenges they face with minimal oversight. I’ll provide the tools and resources to get the job done and everyone is always willing to help, but there’s usually too much going on to provide constant oversight. I want to be able to give you a task, provide the resources you need, point you at the challenge and leave you to it.

While all that may sound a little harsh, there’s nothing quite like working in a startup. Once you’ve tried it, you won’t want to work anywhere else!

Abhijeet Kaldate, Astra WordPress Theme

3. Have a passion for the mission

To land a job at a startup, demonstrate versatility and a passion for the startup’s mission. Network actively, showcase a broad skill set relevant to dynamic environments, and express your potential impact on the company’s growth. Highlight adaptability and eagerness to learn, which are crucial in the ever-evolving startup landscape.

Nic DeAngelo, Saint Investment – Real Estate Funds

4. Bring positive energy

One hiring story that stands out involved an early hire who didn’t have the most extensive industry experience but had an infectious enthusiasm and a knack for connecting with everyone on the team. They brought a positive energy that lifted everyone’s spirits, especially during tough times. Their willingness to go the extra mile and genuinely care about the company’s success made them an invaluable asset.

So, if you’re aiming for a startup role, focus on showcasing your interpersonal skills and your dedication to making a difference. That can make all the difference

Robert Battle, Qckbot

Businesswoman learning

5. Learn quickly

Startups often require employees to be flexible and adapt to rapid changes. Demonstrate your ability to learn quickly and tackle new challenges by discussing past experiences where you had to adapt to unfamiliar situations or technologies.

We had a new hire join who offered to jump into another role when he heard we were running behind on a project. This was surprising to me because I didn’t know he even possessed this skill set! This scenario led to me asking future new hires about their flexibility and how they handle change. There were plenty of times when their response to this question weighed into whether or not I decided to hire someone or not.

Daman Jeet Singh, FunnelKit

6. Do everything to help the company survive

To become an early hire at a startup, you must show that you are willing to do everything possible to help the company survive. In early-stage companies, many generalists who have broad skill sets and can fill gaps wherever necessary are required. If you show that you are youthful and hungry, willing to work long hours and teach yourself things, you can successfully operate within an early-stage company.

Just remember that startups come and go, and there is tremendous volatility in this work environment, so don’t expect to work there forever.

Matt Wilson, Under30Experiences

7. Wear multiple hats

My #1 tip for landing a job at a startup is showing that you can wear multiple hats and go above and beyond the job description and execute. Showcasing your execution skills with a project that includes research with an artifact will be important in landing a startup job. One of my content writers came up with a complete content audit of our website and recommendations, along with a writing sample to the interview. Needless to add, he was hired!

Nanxi Liu, Blaze.tech

8. Entrepreneurial mindset

Showcase your passion and entrepreneurial mindset – this is the key. Startups thrive on innovation, agility, and a strong drive to make an impact. Showcase genuine enthusiasm for the company’s mission, vision, and products/services, and highlight experiences where you’ve taken initiative, shown adaptability, and embraced learning opportunities. Your proactive attitude and ability to contribute to the company’s growth can significantly increase your chances of landing a job at a startup.

Also, emphasize your entrepreneurial mindset and ability to align with the company’s goals and values. Share stories of how you’ve taken ownership of initiatives, been resourceful in challenging situations, and exemplified a strong willingness to learn and grow. This way, you can position yourself as an ideal candidate for a role at a startup, ultimately contributing to its success and growth.

Blair Williams, MemberPress

Hiring early-stage business staff
photo credit: Gustavo Fring / Pexels

9. Showcase relevant skills

One of my best tips for landing a job at a startup is to demonstrate passion and relevant skills. In an early-stage startup, cultural fit and potential are often so much more important than specific experience. You can develop skills, but you can’t teach values and passion. I suggest sharing side projects and personal experiences that showcase your skills. Then, find unique ways to tie these experiences back to your beliefs and the company mission.

Having these types of conversations with recruiters will help you build an authentic connection, which will go a long way toward getting you noticed.

John Turner, SeedProd LLC

10. Do paid trial projects

If you want to get a job with a startup, consider offering to do a small paid trial project before you become a full-time employee. Recruiters who are on the fence about hiring you will happily accept this offer because it gives them a chance to test your skills without committing to a long-term contract. Use this opportunity to show that you’re committed and have what it takes to succeed, and there’s a very good chance you’ll find your next steady job.

Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

11. Flex your curiosity

Flex your curiosity if you want to land a job at a startup. Startups value curious people who are eager to learn and adapt. Show that you’re innovative and ready to tackle new challenges.

Share stories of how you’ve solved problems or learned new skills quickly. This can impress startup hiring teams and make you stand out. Curiosity can lead to new ideas and improvements, which are crucial in a startup environment.

Travis Schreiber, Erase Technologies, LLC