3 Ways to Land a Job at a New Startup

May 13, 2016

4:00 pm

For many, the excitement of working at a startup is worth the risk. Unless you got a job at a unicorn startup, this type of employment often requires longer hours, lower pay, and fewer benefits. But still, people drop their corporate jobs all the time for the excitement of the startup life and the potential for a big payout in the long run.

If you’re ready to make the leap, the next step is actually getting the job offer. Jobs at startups can be extremely competitive, especially if they’re getting a lot of attention from investors. So what’s the key to getting one of these coveted roles?

We were lucky enough to speak with employees and employers in the startup world about the best ways to get the much sought-after call back. Although their answers were different, the common denominator was confidence. Check out the three ways confidence can land you your next startup gig.

Admit You Don’t Know Everything

Brandon, who now runs Seattle Organic SEO Marketing, has gotten his fair share of jobs in an unconventional way. One of his tricks is saying “I don’t know.”

“When asked something incredibly challenging, just tell them “I don’t know” and answer with something that truly reflects the realities of the job.  I did the same for the interview when was asked “Why is a manhole cover round?”  I answered, “I don’t know, but you know what?  I’m going to the Internet…going to find the answer and get back to you.”  The VP of Engineering laughed and said, ‘I love it!  You show how you don’t give up and you don’t lie about knowing it.  You’re a go getter and I can tell.’”

How does admitting you don’t know something help with a job application? By admitting that somethings are over your head, employers will trust that you do know what you’re talking about. It also takes confidence in your knowledge to be able to admit when you don’t know something. Startups want confidence, honesty and integrity – all demonstrated by a simple, ‘I don’t know – but I’d be happy to find out.”

Show Your Skills

Although it’s great to admit when you don’t know something, it’s also critical to be able to sell the skills you have with ‘ping pong confidence’. So what’s ping pong confidence? It’s being so confident in your skills that you’re willing to prove it, even if it’s right in the middle of an interview. Sebastien Dupéré, President and CEO of Dupray, shared this startup interview story.

“We were conducting interviews for a back-end developer position, and we narrowed it down to three candidates. One of the candidate’s returned for a follow up interview, spent three minutes interviewing. He violently interrupted me, looked me dead in the eye and said, in the most firm but quiet voice: “I can kick your ass at ping pong”. My COO and I laughed it off, which obviously enraged him. He kept insisting until I relented. We played for an hour and he beat me in three straight games. All three candidates were qualified, but the confidence and skill from this guy pushed him over the top – he got the job, and he’s still with us!”

Job seekers can often be too meek or mild in an interview, saying they’re adept at certain skills but not ready to prove it. It almost never fails that it a candidate brings their skills ready to show off (aka portfolio) they get the offer. Having common interests and an engaging personality never hurts either.

Dress For The Job You Want

Ever heard of ‘dressing to impress’ at a new job? It is a tried and true approach in the business world. But why then do some candidates rock the sweatshirt and jeans and still get the job? Jamal Asskoumi, Owner of CastleSmart.com, remembers a candidate showing up for an interview at one of his startups wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt.  In the end, the candidate got the job.

“Their confidence was undeniable, skills well above what was necessary and an extensive portfolio,” said Asskoumi.

Although Asskoumi doesn’t recommend showing up in sweatpants to an interview, being confident is critical to your job search success. You need to wear whatever you feel most confident wearing in order to set yourself up for success. Candidates have been rejected for both underdressing and overdressing. So clearly, it’s more than just an outfit. If you’re uncomfortable in a suit in tie, your confidence won’t shine through.

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Elizabeth is a tech contributor for PROTECH, www.protechitjobs.com; Tāk http://www.takinteractive.com/ and other SFL businesses. Elizabeth is also the author of travel and children's books. More about her adventures can be found on her blog: LizzyTheWriter.com. You can reach her at Elizabeth@lizzythewriter.com.

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