Startups Explained

Is It Hard Getting A Startup Job?

Startups are fast-moving businesses that entail a ton of innovation, quick thinking, and the ability to quickly adapt to whatever environment you find yourself in.

Unlike established corporations that have laid down structure, these firms are a shift from the conventional structure —from the size of the staff to the flexible work structure and of course, the prospects of becoming a billion-dollar firm.

However, landing a job with a startup requires as much attention to detail as working in one. For starters, some lucrative positions may not even be posted on job boards (Upside Jobs is still a good place to start). Sometimes, these positions are borne out of the presence of a particular talent discovered in a person. Other times, due to the nature of how startups are founded amongst a group of friends and loved ones, startup jobs may also be through referrals.

However, this doesn't mean that job boards are inefficient when it comes to seeking jobs in a startup firm, it only implies that there are a lot of variables to be considered when seeking a job in a startup, and depending on those variables, it becomes either relatively easy or hard to land a startup job. This article will highlight several variables that must be considered when attempting to get a job at a startup.


Why should I work at a startup?

People join startups for several reasons, chief amongst them being the ability to avoid the red-tapism that is usually associated with huge corporations. Also, working on a product simply marvels some people and may provide an avenue for them to learn and grow in their careers. We spend a good part of our time working, so it's good to consider where you're going to work and whether it's the right environment with the right set of people for you.

As aforementioned, growth is also a focal point for deciding whether you want to work in a startup or not. Most people decide to work in startups because it gives them the ability to explore their strengths and weaknesses while honing their skills. This way, such people build the necessary skills of leadership, teamwork, and the ability to provide solution-oriented ideas needed in larger corporations. These skills boost your resume and grant you the leverage you need to scale your career.

Therefore, working with a startup helps you increase your rate of learning (ROL), which can see you shift from a junior position to a senior one in a few years.

What do startups look for in employees?

We mentioned earlier that startups are fast-paced work environments that require agile and quick-thinking talents. But aside from these skills, startups are looking for people that are quite versatile, the reason being that working in a startup implies taking on several roles and responsibilities at once. Having prior experience is also helpful when applying for a job in a startup.

There are several roles within a startup. So, one myth that should be demystified is that, for you to work at a startup, you must have tech skills. Several soft skills are also in demand within these startups. In any case, regardless of your skill, there are certain traits that startups are on the lookout for.

These include:

  1. A thorough understanding of the market: A well-detailed understanding of the market will aid you in creating potential solutions, speaking to the customers with confidence, and acting as an enlightened representative of the company anywhere.
  2. Curiosity: Startups go through many modifications, so you must always be on the lookout for the next trend, or technology that will bolster the operations of the startup. Once again, this is still linked to such a person being willing person to learn.
  3. Humility: In startups, you can be assigned more responsibilities than you would in a corporate setting, however, you need to be ready to do the 'dirty' work. You must be willing to do the work that doesn't usually get all the admiration and praise.
  4. Passion: Finally, you need to be an active advocate of your startup brand. This will help in ensuring that your interviewers make an informed decision from the very first day.

How to research startups & where to find startup jobs?

Whenever you are researching for a startup job, there are certain things you want to have a firm grasp of.

First, you need to have a thorough knowledge of the company. The company's past, present, and potential future should be well-known to you. This helps you to understand whether you are in tandem with their strategies, funding rounds, and so on.

Secondly, you need to be aware of the company's culture. It's not every startup that grants the dream perks of every job seeker. You need to be fully grounded on what works within that brand.

Also, you should research the customers that the brand seeks to satisfy. The product that the startup offers should be enjoyed, not tolerated. Finally, you should be able to know the competitors of the startup. Is the startup well-funded? Is the market concentrated? These answers should be at your fingertips.

Additionally, you can speed up research by checking things such as the company's website, reading up on the website, blogs, press releases, and everywhere essential information.

Also, the advent of remote work has opened up a different dimension to job seeking. Nowadays, you can surf various job sites to see the latest jobs. You can view various information about various jobs, such as compensation structure, funding rounds, etc. especially when it comes to startups.

Further, you can use your networking skills to search for jobs at startups. You can reach out to various people on LinkedIn to see if you know people that work there. You can also be a part of various meetups where you see various hiring managers, employees, and even founders. Finally, the plethora of social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn can help you with your research on startups.

How can I prepare for a startup interview?

Unlike big corporations, the interview process of various startups is more informal and speedy. Nevertheless, you should always strive for perfection when preparing for such interviews. There are a few tips that can help you to prepare.

These include:

  • Engage the interviewer: The most ideal way for the hiring manager to determine if you are a good fit or not is by engaging in intellectually stimulating and thoughtful discussions.

If the interview process is not characterized by questions and answers from both sides, it will not present the ideal image for the interviewer.

  • Don't talk in buzzwords and sound bites: When you find yourself repeating words, be rest assured that such a meeting will not be a productive one.

Even though the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) approach is usually the ideal format for answering the queries posed to you, the most important thing is that the question is answered.

  • Don't agree with everything you are told: Nobody is right all the time. Most hiring managers of startups are always on the lookout for people who are comfortable disagreeing with certain information, while simultaneously providing more suitable options to tackle the situation on the ground. Otherwise, when you agree with all you're told, you leave the hiring manager wondering if you can solve problems through personal ideation and critical thinking.
  • Ask questions that you feel are important: Finally, before the interview, you must have done the necessary evaluation of working in such a startup, especially regarding the risks and cons of working in such an environment. During the interview, it is proper to ask questions regarding these risks and cons.

How do I evaluate a startup job offer?

First off, when considering a job offer, salary compensation is a vital component of such evaluation, but it is not the only component of such evaluation.

When given a job offer from a startup, it is necessary to carefully evaluate the compensation package and also, the culture of the company to see how they fit into your career and vice versa.

You also assess:

  • The number of shares or options that you are entitled to after the termination or expiration of your vesting schedule;
  • The fixed price of each share at which every investor can purchase a stock —the strike price;
  • The exercise window —which is the period you have to exercise your options at the strike price and;
  • The tax implications of such exercise of options.


In conclusion, getting a job at a startup is neither easy nor hard. What matters is how well you prepare for the interview process, your networking skills, as well as how you fit into the culture of the company.

Don't miss any hiring tips