No experience, no problem: 6 tips for landing the tech startup job you want

April 16, 2015


Looking to join a tech startup but worried about your lack of startup experience? You shouldn’t be! There are other ways to land a job at a tech startup aside from what is or isn’t on your resume.

To learn what a few of those things are, we spoke with Jared Golden, co-founder and president of Pear, and Cassie Guba, senior recruiter at Fooda. Read on to see their advice for landing a tech startup job without having any experience.

Find where your passions lie

According to Golden, a person should begin the hunt for a tech startup job by identifying his or her passion.

“In the startup space, regardless of what industry or vertical a company is in, they’re inherently going to face an uphill battle, some friction from trying to change the way people do things, trying to change the way a product or service is bought or sold, or invent something new,” Golden said. “Change always comes with some sort of wind resistance or friction. I think the key determinant of teams that get through that wind resistance to success is the level of grit and determination they have, and I think that comes from real passion. You can’t fake that.”

Think about a company’s strategy for success
Once you’ve identified an industry that interests you, Golden (pictured right) suggests that people get familiar with the company’s leaders, vision, and strategy for success. The goal is to make sure it is a path you believe in.

“Think very practically about if it’s a vision or a path you can buy into,” he said. “Cause really, getting into a startup is an investment.”

Position yourself as a value add

Once someone is meeting with leadership, Golden said they must paint a clear, convincing picture of what they can do for the business.

“Startups tend to need highly specialized roles, as well as generalists,” he said. “I tend to encourage people to think where they fall along that spectrum and what their skillset can do for the business, where it lends itself today or in the near future, and position themselves as a value add to that team.”

Feel welcome and invited

Meanwhile, Guba said candidates need to also show excitement. There aren’t tall barriers for breaking into the industry, Guba said, adding that candidates should feel welcome and invited to companies of their interest.

“We’re not like a members only club. We’re really just a group of people that are really excited about an idea and want to build on that idea,” Guba said.

[ibimage==46527==Original==none==self==ibimage_align-left]Know the company well

With that said, candidates must also prove they are knowledgeable about the company, according to Guba (pictured left).

“There’s nothing better than sitting down with a candidate, and they ask you really insightful questions about your company and your model and how it works,” she said. “And sometimes it’s really interesting — they ask you questions that someone who has been here six months may not have realized.”

Guba said asking insightful questions shows that candidates are proactively thinking about the company and how they can influence it.

Have a really good attitude

Lastly, though she said it is cliche, Guba stressed the importance of possessing a good attitude, particularly a mindset that is prepared to handle sudden change.

"In startups, things change very quickly. Your boss could come over one day and say you’re going to do a task this way, and the next day it completely changes,” Guba said. “[A great candidate is] someone who is comfortable with that, can move with that without responding negatively, and can change with the pivoting ways of a startup.”

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