The idea of working for a start-up tends to be glamorized in the media. Candidates need to carefully consider if they have what it takes to survive and thrive in this unique environment.
You may be working on a mission-critical project when something changes and you are asked to stop and take on a completely different project. If you are energized by that you could do well in the start-up environment but if that causes you significant frustration you may want to steer clear. Priorities change frequently in the early stages. An investor may have an urgent need that trumps whatever you were working on. Based on focus group feedback your presentation to the board tomorrow may have to be completely revamped. Change is a given in a start-up operation. Candidates need to honestly assess their comfort level with constant change.
In a start-up employees often have to wear multiple hats. There are not unlimited resources or highly specialized roles, you may be asked to do whatever is most needed at the moment. Some candidates thrive on that variety but others need a more predictable and focused work plan. Think about how you do your best work to determine if the variety is a positive or a negative for you.
Comfort with Risk
A start- up come with inherent risk. Not all start-ups succeed. Brilliant ideas for new products or services don’t always predict a successful new business venture. Can you live with the risk of the company going out of business? On a more daily basis can you tolerate the risk of trying something that may not work? If you try and fail, do you learn something and eagerly explore the next option to see if that will work? Sometimes the risk is that you have to make a significant decision on your own, in the moment and then have to live with the consequences.
Believe in the Mission
Working to make a start-up successful is hard work which can be both rewarding and frustrating. To commit to working this hard to make it a success, it is important to believe in the mission. If you are not aligned with the mission it is likely not going to be a good fit for you. You can’t convince others of the value of your product or service if you don’t truly believe it yourself.
See the Impact of Your Work
In a start-up you are able to see the direct impact of your work on the success of each initiative and on the company as a whole. If you want a clear sense of how you are impacting the outcome, this could be the perfect opportunity for you.
In order to have a resume which has maximum impact on potential employers, you should carefully consider everything you include on your resume. Allocating space to on your resume tells the potential employer that you consider it important. Be sure you are focusing their attention on the things that matter most to them.
Keep the Employer Perspective in Mind – Yes, it is your resume and you need to tell them about you but you have greater impact if you prepare your resume with the employer in mind. You will likely have more content than will fit on one page so when making decisions about what to include, keep the employer perspective in mind. You should focus on the skills and experiences that are transferrable and most relevant to the employer. It should be about what they need not what you want. Consider how you can make a difference to a company and help solve their problems.
Don’t let it stand alone — General rule of thumb for a successful job search, don’t ever send your resume alone when applying for a job. If the position is worth applying to, it is worth preparing a customized cover letter. This gives you an opportunity to clearly “connect the dots” between their specific needs in the job posting and your experience and expertise. Don’t expect an employer to take the time to do that themselves. Show them how you can add value in this role. If you are applying online, be sure you follow all the steps required in the posting. Don’t give them an easy opportunity to eliminate you.
Life Outside of Work – It can certainly be appropriate to show employers a glimpse of your life outside of work. If you have volunteer experience, you can include a volunteer section. Identify the organization, your role and the dates. If you were involved in an organization that could be unpopular or divisive, carefully consider how important it is to include it on your resume. If you have unique hobbies or interests, you can list those as well. Sometimes these unique items make someone want to talk to you. Avoid “spending time with friends and family” since that clearly doesn’t differentiate you.
Consider Having Multiple Versions – For most job seekers, a single resume is not enough. If you are pursuing opportunities in different fields, consider having separate versions of your resume to focus on the most relevant skills in each field. Depending on the specific job you are applying for, you may want to emphasize different accomplishments from your previous experience and you may want to update the key words in your summary to better align with the job description. Yes, this is additional work but it can increase the likelihood of an employer wanting to know more about you. Your work experience overall remains the same, but you can choose to highlight different accomplishments and skills depending on the specific opportunity.
You are the Product – In a job search, you are the product. This is the most important sales role of your life. Be sure your resume is the best possible reflection of you – your skills, experience, accomplishments and expertise. Make employers want to meet you. Make them want to have you on their team.