How to Land a Job in a Tech Startup — Or at least what not to do to miss your chance!

By August 9, 2018 No Comments

Tips and tricks on how to be sure to get your dream job in a startup

Hi everyone! My name is Alara, and I work at QMENTA, an innovative health-tech startup based in Barcelona (and US), as a Business Developer.

To give a little background on the company, our expert engineers created an advanced cloud platform to enable doctors, investigators, and pharmaceutical companies to manage their patients’ medical images, run image processing analyses and extract important information from them, create 3-D maps of the brain (and visualize them), and share these with their colleagues. Collaboration is critical in science.

I am also partly responsible for HR, as we do not have an official “HR manager”, which is the case for many small startups that are doing amazing things. They have a limited number of people and budget, so everyone pitches in with various things.

So, I believe the time has come for me to write such a post to help you pass the initial screening and get onto the radar of the people who will decide to hire you or not.

Okay, I am not going to lie. It is not easy to get a job in the very competitive market of tech startups! There is no single best strategy to get a job, and the kind of candidates that companies are looking for changes for every position.

But there are some things you can do to make sure you make it to the top candidates.

The AA Checklist Before Applying

First of all, the startup culture, as you may know, is a “fail-and-learn-on-your-own” kind of culture. There is a team that is there to help you, but everyone is very busy and you have to be ready to face challenges, question yourself, learn/develop everyday, and find solutions — which means that this is a great opportunity for you to grow as a person and as a professional.

Everyone says that it is very different from the corporate world, but you probably won’t believe them. The atmosphere is very fast, dynamic, full of changes and challenges, and requires constant adaptation and interaction with your colleagues. If you don’t think you will match with this environment, then it’s not your thing.

Please apply only if you are genuinely interested to join the company and the team. We can tell the difference!

So, if you do think that you would fit, then take the jump, but before you do, go through this helpful list below:

  • Double-check if you have at least 70–80% of the skills they are searching for. This is also valid for most companies. Most startups do not have much time to train. You will probably not get an interview if you can’t contribute from day 1!
  • Please make sure you apply according to the requirements. For example, if the company wants your CV or if the posting is in a specific language, please translate! It is unfair to give people who have not followed instructions a chance (despite their capabilities), where there are tens, and potentially hundreds of people who did. Ensure if they want X years of experience or experience in Y industry, you have these qualifications.
  • Engage with the people who posted the job or are screening/emailing you. Show them your interest to join the team and company. Make them remember your name or face so they can tell whomever that is interviewing you, “this candidate is good” and you will start ahead of others.
  • Please do not share a CV that looks like it’s from 90s. You are applying to an innovative startup. Show that you fit with the culture.
  • If they send you a questionnaire or tasks to do, finish them on time and deliver very high quality answers or you will not pass to the next stage.

You got the interview: What’s next?

If you pass through the screening and land an interview, congrats! Now is the time to amaze them!

Okay, first things first, you want to work for a high-tech company. Please figure out on your own how to connect to the conferencing system where you will have the interview. It is not difficult, and you will lose points if you are not there on time or have difficulties connecting.

Before you go in for the interview:

  • Know everything there is to know about the company and the product! Come prepared but never “read” from a page! (Honestly, we can tell…) Know about the company’s success, big news, team, etc. to open up the conversation.
  • Be natural so we can get to know the real “you”. Cultural and personal fit is critically important for small companies, you are joining a “family”.
  • Find out who will interview you (if they don’t tell you, ask). Go check the LinkedIn profile of these people, try to find connections with them to create a positive atmosphere during the interview. They are probably not HR, but your future colleagues. See if you would like them as well and imagine how you would get along.
  • Make sure you ask specific questions about the company, their experience, what they like/do not like about the company. Try to link yourself with the answers and show how you would fit in the equation.
  • Have concrete answers in mind on how you can contribute or create valuefor the company.
  • Most startups want to have a big impact. Tell them why you want to be part of that vision. They might ask you questions on how you think you can improve how they do things. Be prepared to answer!
  • Startups need to make more money, grow their customer base, and get more recognition. Even if you are not one of the business guys and coding all day, think about how you can help with that.
  • Lastly, give your 120% (because that’s how you will be expected to work) and hope that they will love you!

Hope these little tips and tricks will help you land your dream job!

But if you didn’t get the offer from that dream job after the interview, don’t lose hope!

Maybe, it’s because they hit it off better with someone else, other candidates had more experience, or maybe they decided to go for a different profile.

In any case, it is nice to know! Don’t hesitate to email or call your contact person to ask for feedback. They will appreciate your pro-activeness and give you clues on how to nail the next one!

Good luck in finding your dream company!

Wishing you the best from sunny Barcelona!

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