Convincing a prospective new employer that you’re the right fit for their company is always a tough situation to navigate. You have a solid work history, and now you just need to show them why you’re the right person for the job.
There are many ways you can go about convincing a potential employer of your merits, some more effective than others. So which ways of presenting yourself work best with startup employers? Below, 14 members of Young Entrepreneur Council share what methods potential hires use to best succeed when applying at their own startups. Here’s what they advise:
1. Understand Your Mission
When it comes to working at a startup, passion, motivation, and convictions are vital for experienced candidates. They already have the necessary skills and experience, so you need to dig another level deeper. The candidate should resonate with your mission, know how to apply it, promote it, and have the soft skills to easily sync with your company culture. – Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker
2. Have Good Ideas
Having an experienced work history is great. However, if you combine that with someone that also has ideas to grow your business, you’ve found yourself not just a quality employee but a leader. If you don’t have leadership positions at your company yet, you can hire them as an employee with the expectation to promote them to a leadership role if they provide value for the company. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
3. Value Alignment
An experienced person likely has the skills needed to succeed, so the real question is whether they’ll succeed inside your organization. To assess this, most of the interview process should be focused on fit within your culture. What does this person value? How do they get things done? And then, how does that align with who you are and how you work? – Todd Emaus, Todd Emaus
4. Explain How Their Experience Could Benefit You
Having an experienced work history is great, but as the employer, I would love to hear how that experience would be beneficial in a startup setting. If the candidate can clearly state how their experienced work history can make them the ideal candidate for the startup position they are applying for, it might make them a more interesting candidate than a less experienced candidate. – Amine Rahal, Little Dragon Media
5. Demonstrate Curiosity
For any potential hire to feel like a good fit, I want them to demonstrate their curiosity by asking a lot of questions about what issues the company faces and how we operate. Curiosity and a healthy attitude are massively important in hiring. – Rachel Beider, Massage Outpost
6. History of Scrappiness
One of the key skills in a startup’s early days is grit. Assuming a candidate aligns with our values, I would take someone who is going to run through walls over someone who is an “expert.” When interviewing candidates who haven’t been at a startup, we dig for anecdotes from their life — sports, hobbies, nonprofits — that show that they have built things and have initiative. – Aaron Schwartz, Passport
7. Passion and Drive
Having passion and drive is the key to driving your startup to success. Anyone can have the right set of skills, but believing in the mission will get your startup that much closer to building a company that continues to grow. These are the people who will be on your leadership team. – Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS – Integrated Marketing Solutions
8. Share Their Results and Success
Having extensive experience is great; however, having an extensive track record of performance, growth, and success is even better. Don’t be fooled simply by time spent working in an industry or role as a measure of someone’s qualifications. Just because they put the hours in doesn’t mean they will be an asset to your bottom line. Look for someone who has demonstrated tangible results consistently. – Justin Faerman, Conscious Lifestyle Magazine
It’s important for any potential employee to show that they will be a hard worker and a good team player. There’s a big cultural difference between being a single-function “expert” at an established company and working for a newer company. In early startups, there’s no room for a 9-to-5 mentality, and employees often have to learn new skills in order to help the organization flourish. – Jessica Gonzalez, InCharged
10. Diverse Skills
A varied work history should not be seen as a red flag but as a huge benefit. As an employer, you can benefit from the diversity of experience, skills, and contacts an employee can bring to your company. Such a person could easily convince me by demonstrating with concrete examples of how they can inject themselves into multiple aspects of my operation as new challenges arise all the time. – Zev Herman, Superior Lighting
11. Strong Ability to Adapt
Working at a startup requires flexibility and the ability to adapt to situations. Many times best practices won’t already be set up and it will be the job of the individual to put these in place. Someone who’s been at large, established companies and doesn’t have any experience in this won’t be a good fit. When looking at a candidate with experience, ask them if they’ve scaled a business before. – Brian David Crane, Caller Smart Inc.
As long as they aren’t too set in their ways, I’d be willing to take on someone who has a wealth of experience. That’s a valuable opportunity for those other members of our team as well. Mostly, though, to be truly convinced I would need to know what it is that they are prepared to do for the company. A big advantage will be if they are going to be diverse in their day-to-day tasks. – Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc.
13. Problem Solvers
Startups require people who not only have the pedigree in their field but can adapt and solve problems in any situation. With the amount of change that occurs in startups, new hires often get stuck in a process framework versus an agile environment. Do your homework, ask questions, and determine the problems the company is facing and then come up with solutions that you’re able to solve if hired. – Charles Koh, Pixery, Inc.
14. Good Referrals
With more experience, there should be more referrals, right? Check out their Linkedin profile and see if any of their previous bosses have taken the time to write a referral and/or ask them directly for a list of people for you to contact. This will give you some insight into how well they get along with others and whether or not they’re a team player. – Jared Atchison, WPForms
Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.