As summer draws to a close, this time of year usually marks a frustrating point for many recent university graduates, as the daunting prospect of joining the “real world” is quickly drawing near.
Fortunately, the job market isn’t looking as bleak as it was a few years ago, and there are plenty of job opportunities in the startup scene that provide an enticing alternative to the dreaded 9-5.
Applying to one of these jobs however is in itself a highly competitive process, and more often than not, the transition into startup life is marked by long work hours and an incredible amount of responsibilities. Nonetheless, with a lot of hard work and a useful product, you might just find yourself as part of a quickly growing company where the rewards are well worth the effort.
We spoke to a number of startup CEOs and asked them what their best piece of advice was for soon-to-be graduates. Heres what they had to say.
1. Mutual Introductions
I’ve hired well over 100 people into my businesses and can tell you that 99% of resumes all look exactly the same. Then consider for one of our recent roles we had 277 actual applicants! So how do you stand out from the all this noise? Well I’ve noticed two approaches that always get my attention.
Firstly, ask a mutual contact for an introduction. I always prefer to hire “known” people rather than complete strangers. When a hirer receives an introduction to a candidate from within their network it removes some of the risk that comes with hiring a new person into a team. You know they are going to put extra time into reviewing a recommended candidate.
So what to do if you can’t find any mutuals to introduce yourself? Send in your application or come to your first interview with something prepared that is highly relevant but also of value to the hiring business. If you’re going for a digital marketing role, list the top 10 marketing opportunities that CompanyX is missing out on and why they matter. If you’re interviewing for an engineering role, be proactive and present some ideas on improving code or systems.
But don’t write an in-depth report or code a thousand line prototype – the recruiter or business owner just won’t have the time to read properly and you’re good ideas are going to be skipped over. Instead summarise down to one or two pages, with bullet points and 12 point type.
This approach shows the recruiter that a) you have initiative and are willing to go the extra mile, b) that your are clearly passionate and motivated about the role and c) leaves them in no doubt that you know your stuff.
If you can manage either one of the above strategies, you will already be ahead of the 99% of other candidates who all just sent in the same old repetitive, vanilla resumes!
Daniel Barnett, Worketc
2. Focus On the Right Industry Verticals
Technology is a very wide field and depending in what area you are looking to make your mark it will be different. What I would call low-tech like most of Software Programming (web, app, mobile etc) is getting more and more commoditized, meaning libraries are getting better and tools make life easier so that every more talent is proposing their services. If you really want to make a mark you have to focus on high-tech areas where only limited talent is available and you can show your expertise.
Rolf Ritter, People As A Service
3. Digital Project Manager
Consider working for PR agency as a Digital Project Manager. Depending on the agency/project, you’ll be get exposure to almost every aspect of a project from budgeting, client management, team assignment/timeline management, design, development, QA and/or delivery. During the interview process try to demonstrate that you are prompt, hard working, good communicator, organized and have a passion for technology.
Tim Holmgren, NewsMeister
4. Open Source
Tech is one of the few industries where it’s easy to demonstrate your passion and ability by having pet projects, that can showcase your abilities, but also help hone them. Make your side projects useful, relevant to your skill set, and where possible open source. The last point is key, if you create something cool and open source it, job offers will come to you.
Ian Naylor, AppInstitute