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.
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.”