The difference between landing that exciting job offer and maintaining the middle of the pack candidate status is so often proving to your potential employer you have those valuable mindsets that are so rare to come across in new hires.
This is especially true for non-technical entry-level positions at growing startups. At this stage, employers aren’t looking for too many specific hard skills or years of experience. What they value more than anything are the soft skills and intangibles needed to succeed.
Your job – in order to get the job – is to show them you have these traits in spades. Luckily, the bar is relatively low. Most candidates will be following directions too closely and not put themselves in the shoes of the hiring manager or business owner. Instead, they’ll be focused on what the company can do for them while you focus on what you can do for the company.
Here are three insights to help you land that exciting startup job. It’s time to show them your Forward Tilt and launch a great career!
Be entrepreneurial, not an entrepreneur
It’s trendy for young people to label themselves as entrepreneurs or founders these days without appropriate justification. Not only will this be received in poor taste by those who have actually built their own businesses, but there also isn’t much value in labeling yourself as such if you’re applying for jobs.
Most entrepreneurs consider themselves unemployable, so they aren’t very likely to consider hiring one themselves. Instead, this will just raise red flags that you’re flighty and not particularly manageable.
If you’re most excited and determined to become an entrepreneur, then stop applying for jobs and go start a business. If you’re not ready to do that, then forget the cool label and focus on selling yourself as an entrepreneurial employee instead.
Employers don’t want to hire entrepreneurs, but they do want to hire and they are so. very. desperate. to hire the employee who is going to go above and beyond their 9-5 duties, identify new opportunities to create value, and solve problems day in and day out.
How to show your entrepreneurial tendencies during the hiring process:
- Skip the application and create a value proposition instead
- Throw your resume out and build a pitch deck
- Create a digital paper trail of your past work experiences
See the Forest AND the Trees
“You’re not laying bricks; you’re building a cathedral.”
This is one of my favorite quotes (and I still can’t figure out who to attribute it to). It serves as a great reminder when you’re right in the middle of the slow grind of why you do all the hard work that goes along with trying to help build something truly great.
However, while proving you can be that entrepreneurial employee that can help build the business don’t forget that the company isn’t necessarily looking for their next visionary architect. They’re hiring for a specific role and it’s your job to show them that you would love nothing more than to lay those bricks all day.
If you’re applying for a sales position that will involve mostly cold calls and emails, you want to emphasize at all possible times during the hiring process, that your number one priority is to become the best sales rep there is. Don’t jump ahead and talk about the fun social media strategies you have or how your ideas to improve the product.
Focus on communicating you are here, first and foremost, to successfully complete the job they’re hiring you for. The fundamentals are the most important part of the game. Master them first.
To emphasize your ability to embrace the grunt work throughout the hiring process I would think of the least sexy, most grueling project you can complete before or during interview rounds. If it’s an entry-level sales role, I would create a spreadsheet with 100+ qualified leads and write an accompanying blog post that explains your thought process. You’ll certainly want to emphasize your commitment during interviews and initial application responses, but just remember talk is cheap.
I’m grouping in all communication you have with the company throughout the hiring process into this last section and we’re going to keep it simple.
Apply ASAP, show up to in-person interviews 10 minutes early, write follow-up emails, send handwritten thank you notes, go out of your way to schedule informal interviews with other team members early on to learn about the opportunity and company, follow them on all social platforms, research the company, leaders, and interviews, create content about them on your own website, etc.
Treat the process of getting hired as if it’s the job itself. Go above and beyond.