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4 Steps to Getting a Job at a Start Up

“4 steps to getting a job at a start up” was originally posted by hint Founder & CEO, Kara Goldin, on LinkedIn here:

Let’s face it: There’s something inherently alluring about working at a start-up.
Even if you don’t know anyone personally who’s working at a start-up right now, you’ve probably seen movies like “The Social Network” or TV shows like “Silicon Valley” that make the whole thing look creative, fun, fulfilling and wildly lucrative. There’s a ton of buzz about working at companies like Hint, or companies we partner with like Stella & Dot, Rent the Runway, and The DryBar.
As the CEO of Hint Water (drinkhint.com), I can honestly say that working at a start-up can be all that—and more. Even before I started and ran my own company, I built my career working at big corporations. And since start-up culture is wildly different compared to a corporate gig, it means you need to tailor your job-hunting strategy accordingly. Start-ups don’t hire the same way big corporations do – they don’t have big HR departments and often they don’t use big head hunter firms. So, to get a job at a start up, you’re going to need to approach it differently.

If you want to land at a start-up, follow these tips:

1. Live the brand. This sentiment might be the most dramatic difference between a start-up versus a big company. At a large corporation, networking within your alma matter might help you get an interview. But if you want to get a job at a start-up, you need to not only understand the start-up’s core mission—you also need to embrace it. For example, if you’re applying to work at a yoga start-up, you have to actually practice and like yoga. Not being authentic will only backfire on you. Always. Even if you somehow manage to get the job, you’ll end up unhappy in the role because you’re not emotionally invested.

2. Don’t be a stranger. Once you’ve targeted a start-up, reach out for a meeting. Show the hiring manager that you’re a consumer of the product or service first, and a job applicant second. If there are no positions open, ask for an informational interview anyway. It’s not as scary as it sounds. On a regular basis, I meet other entrepreneurs through LinkedIn. I send them a message and explain to them who I am. Then, I ask if they have time for a quick coffee or a 15-minute phone call—relatively easy requests. And if you’re terrified of the cold call, take heart: all the people who I’ve approached this way have been really receptive.

3. Show your value. Once you have your meeting or call, do a little homework. That way, when you finally chat, you are able to articulate what you can bring to the start-up. For example, if you’re vying for a sales job, relay the kind of things you would do in the first 30, 60 and 90 days. Consider this a best practice. That’s how my VP of Marketing and Director of Food Service secured their job offers at Hint. I’ve noticed that the strongest people we’ve interviewed do it.

4. Be yourself. (Really.) Because a start-up often small, personalities matter way more than at massive firms. The good part? Your co-workers are your teammates and become your second family. The not-so-great part? Start-ups also tend to attract big personalities, which means your office experience will be colorful and tight-knit—but more chaotic than a cube farm at a corporation. If you’re adaptable and like being kept your toes, a start-up is the perfect place for you.