How to Land a Job at a Unicorn Startup

August 31, 2016

5:00 pm

A unicorn startup is a private company that carries a valuation of one billion dollars or more. This valuation is calculated using the amount of funding that the startup has secured. Startups that have earned unicorn status include AirBnB, FlipKart, SnapChat, Uber and an array of other household name companies.

Landing a job at a unicorn can have plenty of benefits. There are plenty of opportunities for advancement, and you’ll get to work with dozens industry influencers. And don’t forget that landing this kind of position is resumé gold, setting up your future for more good jobs than you can handle.

The question is, how do you stand out among an intense field of competition? 

Show Curiosity

Your skills matter. However, it’s important to remember that your competition will probably have identical skills and experience listed on their resumé. At unicorn startups, your interviewer will be less interested in hearing about what you know and more interested in what you are willing to learn.

Let your resumé do the talking when it comes to your skills and experience. During the interview, focus on demonstrating a sense of curiosity, not just about your chosen field, but about life in general. Talk about any classes you are currently taking, bring up things you have read that have been written by industry leaders, and, by all means, demonstrate that you have researched the company itself.

Fit the Company Culture

Before your interview, do lots of research on the company culture. You can begin by using resources like Glassdoor, which is incredible informative for any job interviewee. Then, pay close attention to the company’s social media presence and website. You want to learn as much as possible about the underlying values, the daily work environment, and the company’s mission.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you should eschew expected formalities in your interview such as professional dress. Just be sure to present yourself in a way that makes your interviewer feel confident that you would fit in.

Show Your Soft Skills

Your hard skills are not as important as you might imagine. Technical skills can be taught, and the needs of a startup in those areas often change on a dime.

Unicorn’s aren’t interested in commodities. They want employees that are flexible communicators who have a deep sense of empathy. They want to hire staff members who have great problem-solving skills, can work with a team, and who can think on their feet. So, be prepared to show off your soft skills as well.

Utilize Past Experience

Let’s say you’ve landed an interview for a position in the marketing department of a billion dollar startup. The problem is that you’ve never held this particular position before. Believe it or not, you still have a great chance of landing the job. You just have to know how your talents and skills can be applied to the position that you are pursuing.

You might not have marketing experience, for example, but you might be a social media wiz. While, you might have never researched or analyzed marketing data, but you may have applied research and analysis skills in other ways.

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Dianna is a former ESL teacher and World Teach volunteer, currently living in France. She's slightly addicted to apps and viral media trends and helps different companies with product localization and content strategies. You can tweet her at @dilabrien

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