How do startups compete with firms fifty times their size? Sometimes they offer a superior or differentiated product. Often times they have price advantages or find success marketing to an overlooked niche. But no matter their unique advantages or strategy, most successful startups share one important quality that the conglomerate does not: a motivated entrepreneurial culture. At a startup it is not uncommon to see employees work long into the night with no promise of overtime. It’s not unusual to find workers that explore new ideas in their spare time and others who wake up in the middle of the night, have an inspired moment, and rush off to the office. In short, the talent at a startup is expected to be highly passionate and motivated – far more so than at a large corporation. This is a key component of the startup culture.
When employers at a startup look to hire new talent, they certainly will seek someone with exemplary capabilities and a demonstrated work background. But they also want a worker who can epitomize this passionate, motivated startup culture. They want someone who will embrace the job for more than just the paycheck it offers. They want a team player who can share their vision and their excitement about the company.
So when you’re applying for work at a startup, it’s not simply enough to tout your tremendous talents and your impressive academic background. Rather, you need to show yourself to be a culture-contributor. You need to demonstrate that you have the right personality for the job.
How can this be accomplished? Here are 10 ideas:
- Stress any previous startup work experience you hold.
- Practice online reputation management and tailor your Facebook page and LinkedIn account to reflect a startup passion and an inquisitive nature.
- Add a “Personal” section to your resume that demonstrates strong outside passions.
- In interviews, stress your excitement in the company’s ideas and the strong work ethic you’ve brought to past jobs.
- Always have questions ready and don’t be afraid to make bold suggestions.
- Don’t act as though the company’s intent is simply to maximize profits.
- Smile and laugh; both go a long way towards building a positive personality perception.
- Dress professionally for an interview but don’t be too conservative.
- Be ready to share examples of previous risks you’ve taken and what you’ve learned from them.
- Ask references to stress your inquisitiveness, enthusiasm, creativity, and work ethic in any recommendation letter.
These are just 10 of the many ways that you can exhibit your startup personality when seeking a job. While you and your friends may know that your personal strengths are perfectly compatible for work in a startup environment, it is important that you take concerted steps to explicitly convey those strengths to a potential employer.