Updated: Jan 28
Do you know what you should do to get hired by startups? This article talks about what startups look for in candidates, how to land a job with a startup company and even better, how to get them to chase you!
If you're looking to get into the startup world, then this conversation I had with Aditya Kulkarni is perfect for you.
Aditya Kulkarni co-founded Stoa School, India's first MBA Bootcamp for working professionals. Stoa offers a practical real-world business education that helps you where you want to go - fast.
Building a career dream isn't easy. Read how Aditya and his team are helping build the new Indian work dream. Of having new, lively, amazing careers in Indian startups.
Catch our full conversation "How To Get Start Up Jobs To Chase You" on LinkedIn where we talk about the kinds of startup companies, how to market oneself, what one needs to succeed in an entrepreneurial world and most importantly, how to get amazing startup companies to chase YOU!
In Conversation With Aditya Kulkarni, STOA School
"Get Hired By A Startup And Build A Dream Career"
Stoa School says, “Startups don’t care for degrees.” What do you mean by that?
Some of the best people hired at Stoa have been hired because they could show their proof of work, not degrees. They showed us what they could do for us even before we hired them.
Startups care for proof of work. When we talk about startups chasing you, it really comes down to showing what value you can offer. This is the thing about hustle, for example - if you email 20 people with a proposal, you’ll probably get a reply from only one person but it shows you are a great salesperson because you have gone through the funnel, the pain of sending messages to so many people despite knowing that you will get few responses.
When you apply on LinkedIn for startups, the job posting has features to eliminate initially screened profiles. How does this address that startups don’t really care for degrees?
There are two kinds of startups and it’s important to understand the difference. There are early-stage companies that are hungry for talent and there are growth-stage companies that have grown to develop an organisational structure by now.
This indicates that they have already figured out what’s working and now they want people with shiny medals and proven abilities. So, it’s hard to get inside these companies without a degree or required qualification because they are on a high growth trajectory.
On the other hand, you have a good chance of getting into early-stage or seed-stage companies. It’s better to expect some response here as those hiring partners, founders are going to be much more responsive than somebody at a growth-stage startup.
How does one spot early-stage startups? Would these startups be attracted to profiles with start-up experience?
The answer to this is doing basic research of the company and incorporating empathy in yourself when applying for the job. Put yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager and think what would you look for in a person who has applied to hire them?
Make sure there is something in your resume that interests them. Demonstrate in the first 10 seconds that you have what it takes. This compels people to feel curious about you and your story.
Why do you think we find it hard to sell ourselves? Is that changing?
Selling is a fundamental skill.
Even when you are searching for a job, all you are doing is selling yourself. It’s essential to master this skill. The reason why people are bad at selling themselves can be cultural to an extent. In many cultures, people are never told to talk about themselves and are looked down upon when they do. The second reason is the lack of intentional practice. "Pitching yourself" needs to be practised.
What advice would you give to someone who has multiple skills? Is it harder to get hired when you're not a specialist?
Find 2 or 3 things you are really good at and use those skills to impress your hirer. But at the same time, it’s important to be relevant to the context you are in. Stick to what’s expected at the moment and show your expertise accordingly. You may be good at many things, but not everyone needs to know about them. It’s about projecting the right part of you that adds value to the other person at the moment.
Also, If you are good at many things, show your skill stack. Even if you aren’t in the top 1 % in those skills, you can say that you are in the top 10 % and that will work. That becomes interesting for the person who is hiring because you have stacked skills.
How can a person with technical competency slowly move into a strategic position?
Strategy is essentially your ability to plan for the long term. And that comes from your ability to deliver on the short term promises.
You get into a strategic position when you have done work in multiple areas, and you have proven your competence across them. For example, If I get into a marketing project and execute that well, later get into a sales project and perform well, then an operations project and do a great job at that too, then I am qualified because my manager or founder will believe I am capable of getting things done irrespective of what the project is. So, that's how people see you as reliable.
Instead of optimising for product management or getting into making strategy, you should be optimising for finding problems that excite you and growth will happen as a consequence of that.
How do you get startups to chase you?
Today, there is an imbalance in the marketplace. While there are some people with multiple offers at hand to choose from, some are looking for opportunities but not getting a single offer.
So, basically, we're looking at two kinds of people.
the ones who are chasing jobs and
the ones who are being chased by jobs.
Let's talk about the latter.
There are two reasons why jobs chase people. Either they have shiny medals, which means they come from reputed colleges like IIM, IIT and so on [OR] they have some proof of work.
An example of proof of work can be some experience of work in early-stage companies or being among the top hires in a startup that has scaled massively. Flipkart, Amazon, Ola are examples of such companies. Moreover, it doesn’t matter what role you played here because simply being a part of these companies gives you some credibility as people trust the training system and culture of these companies and thus your performance.
So whether jobs chase you or not comes down to these two things- either you have some shiny medals or you have some proof of work.
If you don’t have the competence and you don’t have a hustle, then success is less likely to come.
But if you have one of those things, you can do something. And if you have both, then you are already being chased by companies!
What should one do to succeed in the entrepreneurial world?
In order to succeed, especially in the entrepreneurial world, make sure you have the skills, be ready to hustle and most importantly, optimise who you are and how you present yourself to the world if you want brands to hire you.
One final piece of advice for someone who wants to make it big in the startup world?
If you want to make it big in the startup world, what’s important is the willingness to fail and don't worry about making a fool out of yourself!
Being able to ask stupid questions is a superpower because it helps you to put yourself out there and to keep improving. If you want to be chased by jobs, don’t take yourself too seriously and be prepared to fail.
You succeed only by stepping out of your comfort zone, making mistakes, and asking stupid questions. These will make you better and help you grow.