You’ve identified the industry you want to get into and found a company that seems to be the perfect fit. It feels like it’s meant to be! Then, you head to the “careers” section of the website and see there’s no job opening related to your field.
Disappointing, right? But don’t give up hope quite yet — you’re still in with a fighting chance of getting your dream job. Around 70% of roles are never listed, and many startups lack the budgets for large recruitment campaigns, relying on word of mouth instead.
Here’s what you need to know to find the role you’re hoping for.
Harness your network
In an ideal world, you’d have a relative, friend, or acquaintance in your target company. Ask the person to put in a good word for you or mention their name in communications and you could get your foot in the door.
Naturally, not everyone is in this envious position. Time to get creative! Maybe you could reach out to someone in the company on LinkedIn or tell everyone you know (within reason!) you’re looking for a specific type of role. You never know what could happen or who knows who.
Be specific about how you can help
With or without the help of your network, you might decide to contact the company you want to work with. The goal of your email or message isn’t to beg them for a job — you’re pitching yourself. That means you should be the one helping the startup!
Think about your skills, goals, achievements, and interests. How do they link to the company and its objectives? Maybe you’re a marketing whizz with the perfect idea for how the startup can grow its reach or a web designer with some suggested improvements for the company site.
Convince the reader you’d be an asset to their business. Most startup founders are always open to hiring creative self-starters who match their company vision. The moment they detect this potential, you stand a chance of getting hired.
But, before you send off your letter, you’ll also need to attach your resume.
Use a tailored resume
Everyone knows resumes are important. What many people forget — or willfully ignore — is that you can’t send the same generic resume to every company.
Take an hour to highlight your most relevant experiences and consider including a short personal statement tailored to the specific opportunity you want.
Express your passion for the product
You’ll struggle to convince a founder you’re the perfect fit for their company if you know nothing about their product. It’s not enough to assume they’ll take their word for how “passionate” you are, either.
Be as specific as possible. Mention examples of how you’ve used their goods or services and why they impressed you. Bonus points if it’s something you can’t find out on the first page of Google or if you can give them constructive feedback related to your area of expertise. Just don’t be pretentious!
Play the part
Workplace culture is huge for startups. But what’s the best way to play the part?
You might be tempted to mention as many industry buzzwords as possible. Beware, this is a high-risk strategy — if you misuse terminology, you could lose all credibility.
Besides, there are better ways to impress than using jargon. You can stick to what you know and still discuss important ideas! Why not mention an article or book you read that’s relevant to the industry?
Also, it’s important to strike the right balance between informal and unprofessional. While startup founders might not expect you to address them as “Sir/Madame,” they won’t be impressed if your outreach is full of slang and emojis either.
Show them what you're made of
Do you want to be a software programmer for a tech startup? You could program a simple game app and send a link along with your resume. What about a graphic design hopeful? Design an infographic the company could use.
Who would you trust: the candidate who tells you he knows everything there is to know about social media or the guy who can send you a link to his social profiles with thousands of followers?
Many people worry about the company stealing credit for their idea. But don’t worry — true professionals wouldn’t dream of stealing your work.
Ask for an internship
If you’ve already graduated or started full-time work, taking an internship might feel like a step backward. But, if you can afford it, swallowing your pride and asking about an internship could be a smart move.
Why not intern part-time while you work another job?
You have to think in the long term. If a position ever opens up in the future, interning means you’ll be at the front of the queue — and the minds of the founders. Just make sure your position is in the area you hope to enter. It’s no use taking on an operations position if you actually want to be a marketer.
Let us aid you in your search
Don’t let the lack of a vacancy dishearten you. You can still get that dream job by:
Using your network
Demonstrate how you can help
Creating a tailored network
Playing the part
Showing your skills
Asking for an internship
Of course, there are no guarantees — it’s best to keep your options open by reaching out to a few different startups. Not sure where to look? The Welcome Aboard database is the perfect place to find an inspiring startup to kickstart your career.
Follow us for more tips with your startup journey: