Beyond Resumes, Applying For Startups

If you think joining a startup is easier than finding employment in a big company, you can just go ahead and perish that thought. This wrong idea gets lodged in the brain, because you think big companies are more selective. However, it is the startups that are the more finicky, when it comes to hiring.

The reasons are not far to seek. One, startups don’t hire in bulk, but require a single person with multiple qualifications. Two, they want a multitasker to hold multiple portfolios.

And lastly, they don’t have the resources to train new employees. This makes drafting a resume all the more important.  

What do startups expect on your resume?

#1 - Experience in a large company.

An employee with a big company experience adds to the company logo of the startup since its own brand is not yet established in the market.

The startup will promote itself by statements like, ‘supported by engineers from thejuzz, Apple, Facebook, and Google.

#2 - Experience in startups.

Although startups require people who have worked with big brands, they are also wary of the lackadaisical attitude that creeps into such employees.

If your resume says that you have worked in a startup, this will be a big plus, since it shows that you still possess the entrepreneurial spirit to be of use to the startup company.

#3 - Result-oriented people matter.

Since startups cannot hire very many experienced people, they are extra careful in hiring people. And the first indicator of a perfect hire is his or her track record of results.

A track record indicates your capacity to accomplish whatever is given to you.


#4 - Publicly accessible portfolio.

Whatever can be viewed, sells. Startup recruiters are no different. If you really want to make an impact, you must have a visual portfolio that is publicly accessible.

For this, you can either optimize your LinkedIn profile or get visible at Github repository or Behance collection. This way, startups will be able to assess your work.

#5 - Exact job titles matter.

If a startup has advertised for a particular job title and you have the very same one on your resume, chances of getting an interview call increases substantially.

This indicates to the recruiter that you have done a similar job before. 

#6 - Be crystal clear in your résumé.

Clarity in your resume makes the recruiter read on. Since he or she may be reviewing hundreds of resumes, if your resume lacks clarity, it will certainly be dumped in the wastepaper basket.

Make use of bullet points to make your resume concise and easy to read.

#7 - Startups need passionate people.

It is one thing to know the job, but another to be passionate about it. The startups look for passionate people who not only have the relevant skills and knowledge but are also passionate about the job offered.

#8 - Keywords in your résumé matter.

Nowadays, programs like applicant tracking system are used to search suitable resumes. This program is based on keywords.

If your resume does not have the right keywords for the exact skills needed by startups, your meticulously prepared resume may get rejected.

#9 - Extracurricular activities are welcome.

Startups are work-intensive but do consider your interests outside of work. Since you will be having your nose to the grindstone working for the startup, the employers want you to relax and rejuvenate by doing something besides work, like pursuing your hobbies.

#10 - Savor unpredictability.

Working in a startup throws up many unpredictable challenges that may test your patience. If you love challenges and you are not deterred by setbacks, startup employers will love you for it. What they see in a candidate is his or her willingness to work under all circumstances. Don’t forget to mention this trait in your résumé.


How to score an interview?

Gone are the days when you submit your resume and keep your fingers crossed for an interview call. You have to be proactive in getting this call, more so if you are aiming for a job in a startup.

There are some excellent tips that will help make an interview call a certainty. Let us see what they are:

#1 - References works.

If you can get referred by someone already working in the startup, you are most likely to get an interview call. This is because the company trusts that its employee, who has referred you, is trustworthy and will always give the best advice.

So, identify contacts who are willing to refer you to the startup recruiter. Connect with him or her through LinkedIn for getting leads to a few companies.

#2 - Networking helps.

Networking is said to be the direct route to an interview. This entail seeking out employees, befriending them and requesting them to put in a good word about you to the startup recruiting manager.

You can find such employees by attending events organized by startups for promoting their product. Meet them there and exchange email addresses and send an email the very next day.  

#3 - Add value to startup.

If you get a chance to meet the startup leaders, offer fresh ideas for their business they hadn’t thought of before or give a valuable suggestion or feedback about their product.

This way you will come into their eyes and may be called for a meeting, where you can showcase your competencies or skills. This may result in a hiring opportunity.

#4 - Don’t just apply, go beyond.

In case you are unable to find someone to refer you to the startup and are incapable of networking, don’t lose hope. You can very well send your resume in the traditional way, but make your presence felt online. Showcase your talents and skills, and suggest how you can make a difference to the startup, you are aiming for in a blog or social media.

A strong presence on the net will get you noticed by recruiters. Another good approach is to add in your résumé why you are so passionate about the startup you are aiming for. This will make your bid for the job stronger.


Startups want the very best, because the right hires will help them become established and turn them into big companies. You should not only draft a résumé that gets picked up by the startup recruiting manager, but also use every available means gain visibility to get an interview call.