Job market / SMEs

 How to get hired by a start-up

Whilst both are created by entrepreneurs, there are significant differences  between start-ups and small and medium sized enterprise (SME’s) in terms of their business models . A feature of a start up is it’s potential for growth, to become a large scale business and create a completely new market. In this blog, guest writer Austin Saturday, marketing assistant from Click Mechanic (a start up created in 2012) provides insight on the typical recruitment process and offers advice on how to get hired by a start up.

How do start-ups hire people?

Start-ups are generally a fast paced environment, with a lot of different pressures and stakeholders which puts a lot of focus on the internal team to both hire quickly and ensure they have the right people. The limited resources of start-ups, particularly during their infancy, does mean however that you may not see as many opportunities as you should. Fortunately, there are a few start-up job boards where you can find plenty of opportunities such as workinstartups.com however. The other unique aspect of start-up recruitment are the many steps or challenges to ensure that the right person is recruited. This means candidates will most likely complete a string of interviews and tests to stretch them in different ways – at ClickMechanic we have a 10 step hiring process.

What do start-ups look for in applicants?

People who want to develop themselves and their career. Start-up roles are unique in that you will be constantly required to cover several different roles which gives you a far broader experience of a business.  While you develop your transferable skills, you also hone a greater understanding of your core role as you are often given more responsibility over the tasks you would like to work on. The emphasis is definitely on self-growth and that is a key aspect we look for within people.

What is the most important part of the recruitment process?

The phone interview is a short 10-15 minute chat but speaks volume about the kind of applicant you are. Often people don’t treat it in this way but this is your first impression and chance to shine. Small details about the call, such as how you answer the phone and your mannerisms can dictate if you receive a spot. There is often less preparation done for a phone interview but, unlike an in-person interview, you are able to have notes stuck up all around you to help get through the call. The most important notes should involve your CV, details about the business and those all important post-interview questions. These questions are vital for getting to know the people behind the business as well as making sure it is the right fit for you. Asking shallow, practical questions such as the company’s address or even what the company does is always discouraged as it shows little research or preparation.

What makes an interviewee stand out?

Good preparation can make an average candidate shine. By putting in extra effort, doing research and rehearsal, it shows any employer that you are likely to put similar efforts into the role. This preparation is also an important step in making sure the role and company are a good fit for you as well. Some good ways to prepare are to:

  • Contact current employees on Linkedin
  • Do some digging on the development of the business
  • Look into press releases to give you an idea of what they take pride in
  • Adjust your CV with skills relevant to the role
  • Find out more about their market and test their product

Why should someone consider a start-up over a grad scheme?

Graduate schemes give a solid structure to your career progression, providing you a clear path through entry level roles to middle management. Many will undertake grad schemes as the natural progression through school, university, then into a corporation, meaning you’ll be entering the working world alongside others your age. Start-ups however are a completely different ball game and job roles often lack structure in favour of independence and variety. You will be expected to adapt to new challenges and be innovative, expanding your skill-set beyond your initial role. This means that your development is usually independently lead and can catapult your career based on the effort that you put into it. Often our interns go from starting to managing part of our operations within a few months to a year.

What key piece of advice would you give to applicants?

Make sure that the company is the right fit for you. Being drawn in by a big name or salary may end badly if you don’t consider how you would fit into that company. Being utterly exhausted or depressed, working each day will take its toll on you and your passion to work within an industry. The interview process is your chance to find out about the company, it’s a two way street of information.

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