Want to Land a Job at a Startup? Do these 3 things

Written by Ryan Cormier

Forward Digital is hiring. Naturally, I'm knee deep in résumés and LinkedIn requests. Several of the applicants I've screened to date have done a great job, creating a strong first impression. An alarming number have not. As a result, I feel compelled to offer those folks some advice - and have gone ahead and listed the top 3 ways in this post - I hope it helps!

3 Ways to Improve Your Chances of Landing a Job at a Startup

1. Be professional at all times 

Startups are fun places to work because they offer a lot of freedom. Plus they're not all buttoned up like corporate America. That doesn't mean that working for (or applying to work for) a startup gives you the right to be unprofessional. Here are some things to do/watch for to ensure you're being as professional as possible when communicating with a potential employer:

  • Prepare for every interaction
  • USE SPELL CHECK - there's no excuse for misspelled words
  • Use proper grammar
  • Write and speak clearly and concisely
  • Provide clear, direct answers
  • Avoid filler words: like, um, yeah, etc.
  • Avoid cursing and questionable jokes
  • Be confident, but never arrogant
  • Show your personality, but don't go over the top
  • Thank the person for their time

2. Be persistent, but not pesky

No matter who at the company you're communicating with, chances are that person is incredibly busy. Your job is to walk the line between timely follow-ups and stalking. Here are some tips for staying top-of-mind without driving your potential employer insane:

  • Follow up at the same time each day
  • Only communicate once per day (unless instructed otherwise)
  • Connect and engage with the company on social media
  • Check in within 24 hours if the person hasn't gotten back to you when they agreed to
  • If you have questions, try presenting solutions to save the person time and show them you care
  • If someone asks you to call them, call them - don't hide behind email or LinkedIn messages
  • Really want to stand out? Send (or drop by with) a hand-written thank you note

3. Pay attention to detail!

This is my biggest pet peeve when it comes to hiring! Even if you present yourself with the utmost professionalism and at the perfect frequency, you don't stand a chance of landing a job at a startup if you can't pay close attention to detail. Here's a list of questions to ask yourself before applying for a job or communicating with your potential employer:

When applying for a new job

  • Have I read the entire job description?
  • Is this job really right for me? Am I right for it?
  • Is the job in my city/state? If not, am I really willing to relocate?
  • Have I adequately researched the company, their products/services and their competition?
  • Am I submitting everything the company asked for? (résumé, cover letter, references, work samples, video submission, etc.)
  • Is my submission on time, in the correct format and going to the right person?

When communicating with your potential employer

  • Have I adequately researched the company, their products/services and their competition? (I didn't mistakenly put this one on the list twice - this is vital)
  • Do I fully understand what's being asked of me? (when in doubt, write it out)
  • Why might this information be important to the potential employer?
  • How can I go above and beyond what's been asked of me (without going overboard)?
  • Have I answered all of the person's questions completely and concisely?
  • Have I double-checked my work for grammar, punctuation and spelling errors?
  • Is there anything else I need to include before I send this?

Happy hunting!

For those of you grinding away in search of that perfect startup gig (maybe at Forward Digital?), I hope these insights are of value to you. I can tell you without a doubt that if more applicants followed these guidelines, it would be FAR more difficult for me to screen, interview and hire new employees.

If there's anything I missed, leave a comment or Tweet @ForwardLasVegas!