Guest Post: What Skill Can You Offer a Startup?

Today we have a guest post from Jenna Smith.

Let’s assume that you’re trying to get hired at a given company. You have a good education, a few years of experience, and consider yourself a smart person. You have an understanding of the company’s industry and you believe yourself to interview well. You may not be a shoe-in for the position, but you’re certainly a good candidate.

If you were looking for a job at a large firm, these above listed credentials would help tremendously towards putting you on that path. You’d be best advised to stick to your guns, tout your credentials, shake the interviewer’s hand firmly, and hope for an ounce of luck. But things are different if this company happens to be a startup. Sure, having a great resume is certainly highly important, as is being able to profess knowledge of the vocation you seek. Startups will certainly consider these qualities. At the same time, though, a startup interviewer has one other concern in mind, a concern that is shared by large firms but to a much lesser degree: how will this applicant change the culture of our team? How committed will they be? What unique skills can they bring?

Asking these questions is essential to the startup. At a larger business, a bad hire will amount to little more than some money wasted and a quick termination. But at a startup, each and every hire has a marked impact on the business’ culture, not to mention on its future success. Each and every hire needs to bring a talent that they can do better than the rest of the team – and one about which they are passionate.

If you plan to interview at a quality startup, having some specific talents in mind is probably key. These talents should not include some that are regularly espoused at interviews, such as hard work, attention to detail, or responsibility. Moreover, you don’t want to verbalize this talent to your interviewer. Instead, you want to implicitly focus on it, draw circles of experience around it, and more or less show them that you possess it.

So what kind of talents do I have in mind here? When a startup is just getting off the ground, the ones that ultimately turn out most successful have some combination of the following personality types: the charismatic business leader, the dedicated numbers guy (or gal), the inexhaustible creative type, and the gregarious networker. Astute startup managers realize the strengths of having such an assortment, and, consequently, they often look for these types of people when sitting down for an interview.

So ask yourself: what kind of person am I? Can I fit one of these sought-after startup identities? And can I display that in an interview? If you can, you’ve gone a long way towards boosting your chances and landing yourself a job.

Jenna Smith is a journalism student at Saint Louis University. Upon graduation, she hopes to travel the world while producing compelling content for the masses. When she isn’t writing, you can find Jenna with her nose in a book, or her headphones in to block out the rest of the world. Enjoy!

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