Getting an entry-level startup job with little experience

This blog was originally posted in September 2017 but its advice still stands today! So we thought we’d share one from the vault!

A startup job-seeker’s life is never easy, and navigating dozens of ads that require a certain degree of experience in a field does not help. However, the fact that you have little to no experience, does not mean that you aren’t the ideal candidate (just that you have to find a way to stand out!) Grab an employee’s attention, not with your vast experience, but with your potential.

Before you begin: try to remember that everyone starts from scratch and don’t be afraid to experiment with your approach and your resume, but do stay true to yourself.

Focussing on (and mitigating against) your skills that don’t match up to the job requirements is a mistake that a lot of candidates make when applying for a tech job. The truth is that you have likely overlooked startup skills that you do have that are actually transferable – look out for the following in your CV and big them up!

Soft skills – Communication skills can take so many forms – negotiating, mentoring, writing/ copywriting etc. That is why they’re often required in a wide range of startup job listings. Being able to first understand and then relay complex processes and technical aspects of a project to different departments, facilitating a smooth and efficient interaction is highly valuable (especially in a tech environment).

(for the 2019 Supplement: check out our soft and hard skills series).

  • Teamwork – being able to successfully work and integrate within a team is a crucial aspect of working in a startup. Keep in mind that some startup teams are based in an office, while others work remotely or on a flexible schedule. This can result in less-traditional interactions. Regardless of your work-style, the ability to professionally work with others towards a common goal is a must-have skill.
  • Planning and organising – Surely this sounds easy enough, but planning and organising goes well beyond keeping a neat desk and a beautifully organised google drive! Could you project manage, track deadlines, create templates or checklists, establish, optimise and explain project workflows to make sure that every aspect of the business is aligned and integrated seamlessly? Yes? Maybe a startup job is for you.
  • Research and Analysis – Just think about it – you are already doing this on the daily for your day-to-day activities (online shopping, researching new products/services or just source-collecting for your next university report). And you’re even reading this startup blog, so clearly you do your homework! If you are able to get through high volumes of data, put it all together in a relevant way and isolate the essential information, why wouldn’t you put that skill to work in a tech startup as well? Market research, competitive analysis, prospecting finding relevant tools and resources for the business are invaluable in the long-run for any startup.
  • Multitasking – Being able to juggle multiple tasks at once and stay productive might be one of the best skills you can have in a startup. There is no more dynamic an environment than a company with ambitions of massive growth. Keeping up with that pace and pressure isn’t for everyone, but if you are a multi-tasking rockstar you are definitely startup material.

Experience (or lack of it), does not have to be an impediment when it comes to getting hired by a tech startup! Remember: everything you put in your CV has to be accompanied by an example of work or a situation in which you had to use those skills! Most startups will hire you as a grad or for an internship for potential and not only for experience (but a shiny certificate never hurt anyone!)

As ever, we welcome willing candidates of all skill levels on Work in Startups. Come join the hiring frenzy!

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