Want to work at a startup? A startup job can be an exciting, rewarding opportunity to be a part of building something from the ground up. Company culture is key for working hard on a small, close-knit team, and every employee hired makes a big impact on the company.
Simply Hired got the inside scoop on startup hiring from Ryan Sapper, the Head of Recruiting for TaskRabbit. In case you haven’t heard the buzz on this fast-growing startup, TaskRabbit is changing the way people get everyday tasks done through an easy-to-use marketplace where people can post tasks that their friendly local “TaskRabbits” can help them do. We asked Ryan to share his top tips for potential future startup employees.
Show what makes you unique.
Ryan recommends cover letters include three things: “who you are, why you want to work there, and what makes you unique.” If your energy will be your best asset, express that in your cover letter. Creative with words? Make sure that comes across. The cover letters that stand out show how you’ll contribute as an individual.
However, don’t get too creative with formatting and style. Instead, keep it concise to ensure that the right information is conveyed clearly. Ryan’s take: “In as few words as possible, explain what you’ve done that is applicable and most important. If you can do it in 5 words, do it in 5 words, not 10.”
The most overlooked step in the application process? “Have multiple people you know read through your resume and give you honest feedback,” Ryan says. “If they have to look at it more than once to figure out where you worked and when, that’s a problem.”
Do your homework.
The most important thing to express is your passion for the company. “It’s easy to tell when a person cut and pastes the word ‘TaskRabbit’ in the company name in a generic cover letter,” Ryan cautions. “If you don’t know what we do and why everyone here is so passionate, you won’t get hired.”
Don’t just read the company description on the website. Research to understand the company’s space in the market and the competitors, and don’t be afraid to (casually) show what you know during the interview process. “When you demonstrate you know about the company, it shows you went that extra mile and genuinely care,” advises Ryan. “It could make the difference between getting the job or not.”
Make the link between passion and experience.
At a startup, employees are typically given a large amount of responsibility to get the job done. A key trait for success in this environment? Adaptability. Ryan advises potential candidates that they should be prepared to go beyond the job description compared to a larger company.
“One of the great things about a startup is that you don’t necessarily need specific experience, but you do need energy, enthusiasm and passion,” Ryan says. “If you can prove that you can work hard and truly care about the product or company, that can be enough to win over a hiring manager.”
Experience is still relevant, but it’s most important to highlight any transferable skills to the job description. Ryan described a recent hire who hadn’t ever worked in customer service with an online community, but he had worked in a popular retail store environment that required patience and people skills. By emphasizing these during the process, along with his passion for the company and commitment to working hard, the candidate successfully got the job.
Company culture is key.
At a startup, a good fit with the company culture often outweighs any other factors. “A startup is not a 9-5 environment,” Ryan says. “We work hard, but we also enjoy spending time together outside of work hours. People are genuinely happy to be there every day.”
Ryan’s advice here is share your personality: “Being an outgoing people person can take you a long way in an interview at a startup.” Also, double check the dress code before your interview. At most startups, business casual is the most formal attire you’ll see in the office, so a suit isn’t always the best bet.
Like what you hear? Search “startup” on SimplyHired.com to find startup jobs near you. Or, apply to TaskRabbit - they’re now hiring for awesome engineers, mobile developers and community managers in several different states. Visit taskrabbit.com/careers to check out their current openings.