Traditional interview methods don’t always apply to every startup. While some startup hiring managers might go by the book and what they know from previous experience working in a corporate environment, many chose to shake up not only the interview process, but also the ways they locate talent and introduce them to their company culture. It still all comes down to fit.
For Toodalu, Casey Civiello, COO, explains, “The most important qualities to have[working at Toodalu] revolve around work ethic and social skills. When you work in a team of five, task completion, accountability, and the ability to endure long hours together are all crucial.
You’ve may have decided you’re ready take on the challenges of the job, that a startup is the right environment for you, and you’ve got some great skill sets to make things happen. But, you still need to do your homework and figure out which startups are in tune with who you are and what you have to offer, as well as the amount of work you’re willing to put in to achieve success. And this all revolves around a company’s culture.
Civiello relates, “I don’t know that there is a standard culture for a start up, but I do know that I am impressed everyday with the individual talents of the people that I work with at Toodalu and our team’s ability to maintain positive relationships with one another while working long hours. I am consistently amazed at how five individuals with very different backgrounds and interests can get along so well.”
Over at MentorMob, they take a slightly different approach than many companies to acquainting people to their company culture, but it’s very inline with the company’s own mission and focus.
Kristin Demidovich, Chief Marketing Consigliere, explains, “Our culture is very unique to us… We work hard to play hard. A typical day is starting around 9 with a pot of coffee brewing while each team member loudly enters! We group together to go through all of the weeks successes and opportunities and then brainstorm on what’s next. We band together, always supporting one another. We encourage team members to meet with other industry professionals to learn and develop in their roles–we are always learning. We encourage team members to invite others into our office to meet and greet and share stories for community building and learning. Oh yes, and through all the brainstorming, learning and creativity, keep your guard up as Nerf darts frequently are being shot into the air.”
Whatever your background or your taste in work environment, there is a startup out there who can probably use your specific talents. And with startups launching in unprecedented numbers across the US (and globally) each day, there’s a plethora to choose from.
If there’s not an opening at a startup you’re particularly interested in, don’t be afraid to take a different approach like offering to intern, consult, or work part time.
As Cate Conroy, Director of Marketing at GiveForward, expresses, “The biggest challenge we face [in attracting talent] is the same challenge that startups face across the board, trying to do more with less, at least for now. Bootstrapping touches every part of a startup, including hiring, so sometimes we have to bring on someone in a part-time position, when we may want to have them on full-time, but that isn’t an option until the funding is there.”
It’s important to note that most startups build their initial teams through their networks and referrals, so if you really want to work for a particular startup, get acquainted through their networks for an introduction.
“The best talent is often busy,” says John Haugen, Co-Founder of SeatSync, “So it helps to have personal relationships or referrals from your own network. So far, our collective network has allowed us to build our team with people through referrals and personal connections. In the future, we anticipate leveraging these connections, but are always interested in speaking with people that have relevant skills. Our main challenge is and will be finding people who can make an immediate impact, both in terms of product implementation and business growth.”
If the potential for long hours, unexpected hiccups, and wearing multiple hats hasn’t deterred you, a startup has a lot to offer those individuals looking for something more than just a paycheck.
As Conroy divulges, “The best part of working for a startup is the freedom to learn, experiment and grow. Every day I’m given opportunities to take part in projects that I would never get a chance to participate in at a larger organization. It’s incredibly empowering and exciting.”
For Civiello, it’s the unexpected challenges that come up when working at a start up and the ability to realize tangible results for his decisions and actions that drive him.
So, if you’re ready to take a leap and go a less traditional route and join a startup (or any company), get in touch with yourself and what connects you to your work, do your research on what companies out there sync with your values and inspire you, and differentiate yourself from everyone else–make it known why you’re an asset to the company you want to work for (and remember to watch out for a few rogue Nerf darts on the way.)
And as Bryan Johnson, Founder and Chairman of Braintree said, “Be true to yourself. Life is so personal and contextual that it’s best to carve your own path.”
The corporate life is not for everyone, why not consider interviewing at a startup, you never know the path it may lead you to…