jobs in start-ups

The Placed Guide to Jobs in Start-Ups

Industry experts on the start-up sector and how to break into it.

Do you want to join the next Netflix, Monzo or AirBnB? 

Of course you do, that’s why you’re here… 

And you’re not alone. An increasing number of early career job-seekers are seeking out jobs in start-ups, attracted by the career progression opportunities and working culture that go hand-in-hand.

To help you soar above the competition, we’ve tapped up some of our favourite start-ups, backed by Connect Ventures, for advice and info on working in the sector. From the skills you need to land jobs in start-ups to what a typical working week looks like.

What skills and values do I need to demonstrate to get a job with a start-up?

All start-ups are different – some look for raw talent that they can shape while others look to hire specialists that can hit the ground running. Either way, there are some key qualities that are commonly called for in start-up roles.. 

Here are a few common ones, with some ideas for how you can demonstrate them in your application. 

Team-Player: start-ups rely on team members working together to do what it takes – even if that means sometimes having to do things that sit outside of your specific role. Try to give examples of times in your life or work that you have gone outside of your comfort zone for the good of the team.

Values-Fit: in a small company with limited resources it’s essential that team members share the same fundamental values and have complementary ways of working. Read up on the company culture (what goes on behind the scenes) and try and bring some points of common interest to the table in your interview, along with some ideas on your particular working style. 

Adaptability: things move quickly in start-ups and employers look for candidates that are adaptable and flexible enough to deal with change. Share some experience you have of adapting to change, whether that’s moving to a new city or forging a new career path.

Passion: start-ups tend to be disruptors and therefore seek out people that aren’t just driven by money but by the mission, too. Be prepared to talk about your own passions and relate them back to the company’s objectives.

All-Rounder: people with a good mix of skills are treasured in the start-up world, where new features or projects have to be scaled up quickly and there is less budget to outsource tasks. So make it clear on your application that you’re willing and able to wear multiple hats, and skill-up in lots of different areas to increase your chances of getting a job. For example, if you want to get a content writer role, why not learn to code or brush up on your social media skills to add another dimension to your skillset. It’s what separates the great candidates from the good. 

jobs in start-ups

A typical meeting at Second Nature

Our fave start-ups on what they look for in candidates

Jen Keeling, Talent Acquisition Lead at EduMe

“Start-ups can be chaotic and priorities can change quickly, but that’s the beauty of them! For this reason, we look for people who are smart, adaptable, proactive; people who can make mistakes and learn from them, and whose attitude brings positivity and inspiration to the team. It’s also really important that people are self aware & can take feedback well. On top of this, we love people who are curious – who never want to stop learning and asking questions.”

Kate James, VP of People at Curve

“We have invested a lot into our culture interviews and assessments, ensuring that candidates taken through our hiring process are aligned with our culture. This is the most important part of our process and focuses on areas including ownership, accountability, bias for action and obligation to dissent.”

Amy Christenson, Director of People at Second Nature

“Start-ups are a very different working environment than large and established companies, though perhaps not so different than the organised chaos of a busy restaurant kitchen at peak!  Because of this, we look for candidates who are prepared to enjoy the ride as things tend to change a lot as we work to make our product amazing and keep growing our customer base. We also look for people who believe our mission is an important thing to be working on and who are committed to growing themselves – these two things can make up for almost anything else that might be missing.”

Find jobs, upskill and follow your fave brands.

jobs in start-ups

Lunchtime at Second Nature

A typical week at…


“We operate a flexible working pattern here, so people work in a way that best suits themselves and their lives. Our working weeks are made up of collaborative sessions and focused, individual work – depending on the team set up. 

We have an individual Learning & Development spend at EduMe and people will often take a few hours out of their weeks to learn, read and better themselves. 

The end of the week is a Friday huddle where we hear from people across the business and every other week we have a remote cooking club! We’re big on collaboration and culture, and working to live, not living to work.”


“A typical week at Curve involves routines that give us a structure and connection to each other. The routines also keep us on the same timeline, as we are a fast-moving start-up. These include daily team stand-ups, Be N The Know weekly cross company Monday meetings, where company or team updates are given and new joiners introduced to the team. 

Our routines also include a monthly All Hands meeting, reviews of our OKRs and prioritising our work to make sure we are focused on the most important work streams, and some social interactions. The latter includes 30 minute coffee chats where we are randomly paired with someone else in the business, as it is important to socialise beyond the transactional day-to-day communications.” 

Second Nature:

A typical week is one where we all wake up on Friday and can’t believe the week is already coming to a close! There’s a lot going on and we are all working together to make things happen.  We release new features almost every week so depending on what team you’re on, that might mean building that feature or it might mean helping our customers solve issues that pop up once it’s in the wild.  

But most weeks you’ll have a 1:1 with your manager, daily standups with your team, the opportunity to learn something new about health at a lunch & learn or hear directly from a customer about their experience with our programme, and we all get together (virtually) every two weeks for our All Hands meeting.”

—-Featured employers —-

jobs in start-ups

Yoga session at Second Nature

What people love about working in start-ups

Kate, VP of People at Curve

“Fifteen years ago I was unhappy working in 9-5 jobs, being told exactly what to do and how. After the last 9-5 job I had, I decided not to go back to office work until I figured out why I was so unhappy. Then I realised what I really enjoy is start-up life. I love the variety of work, wearing many hats, the ability to contribute to many areas of the business and feel a sense of personal and collective achievement.”

Aloke, Product Designer at EduMe:

“What I like about working at a startup and EduMe is that the company is small enough and at an early stage where you can have a real impact and influence on the direction of the product and team culture. 

How did I get into it? I studied and worked in architecture but didn’t feel it was a natural fit for me. Working on a side project with a friend to create a website that helps architecture schools introduced me to the world of UX/Product design. I decided to make the switch by completing a Masters in UX Design.”

Marnie, Operations Manager at EduMe

“The great thing about working for a start-up – and particularly EduMe – is that you’re constantly surrounded by passionate, excited and innovative people. You know that the work you do has an impact, and you get to see the results you’ve helped achieve.”

Amy Christenson, Director of People at Second Nature:

“Our team members tell us that they love working on a mission they believe in and feeling like the work they do everyday has a visible impact, that they are constantly learning and growing, and that they get to really understand the needs of our customers.”

Jobs in start-ups you can apply for right now

Like what you’ve read about working in start-ups and the companies featured? It’s time to make your move by applying for one of the following roles on Placed.

Second Nature

Customer Support Associate

Second Nature says: “Our Customer Support team is a great place to join if you’ve never worked in a start-up before. The team is made up of people with really different backgrounds. One person previously worked in marketing at a pharmaceutical company and started as Customer Support Associate. As the team grew, she then took up a managerial role and now coaches other team members. Another person on our team had customer support experience at a telecommunications company. He now works closely with the Product team and has become our go-to person for any technical problems.”


Influencer Marketing Intern x 4

Curve says: “We are looking for ambitious influencer marketing interns to join our fast-paced growth team and recruit, negotiate, manage, and develop high-performing influencer marketing campaigns.”