In my quest to find the perfect candidate for Social Light, I’ve had some adventures, and it finally occurred to me that some job seekers may not realize what small business owners are looking for in candidates.
To that end I’ve put together a guide to help job seekers and business owners alike get through the hiring process.
The Job Seeker’s Guide to Startup Jobs
Job Seeker Tip #1: Cover Letters Matter
Yes we are in the tech era where brevity rules, but if you are applying for any kind of communications/marketing/account management position, I want to know that you have the basic skills to write a business letter.
Plus the whole point of a cover letter is to tell me something I’m not going to get from your resume. I want to know the intangible thing about you that makes you perfect for the job. A cover letter is your chance to shine, and so many people blow that opportunity.
Job Seeker Tip #2: Be Responsive
Make no mistake, every part of the application process is a test, including how long it takes you to respond to emails and phone messages.
If several hours or even days pass before you respond to a prospective employer, they may assume you’re not that interested in the job. Worse your lackluster response could lead them to believe you will be slow to respond to their clients.
If you are truly interested in the job, it’s always a good idea to respond quickly, even if your response is to simply acknowledge their message and let them know you will get back to them with more details later in the day.
Job Seeker Tip #3: Respect the Interview
“If you set a time for an interview, SHOW UP, regardless of whether it’s in person or by phone! Do some research on the company and the person with whom you’re talking beforehand. It’s not that difficult in this day and age to do a few online searches,” says Lori Saitz.
“It’s also a nice gesture to send a thank you note afterwards, preferably handwritten and sent via USPS. Sets you apart from most others and leaves a good impression. I actually got a job one time because I sent that thank you note!”
Job Seeker Tip #4: Be Aware Business is Personal
Startups and small businesses tend to be extremely personal to the founders because the business is the result of their own efforts and personal reputation.
You should know ahead of time that the business owner is used to having control over things and one of the top qualities they are looking for is the ability to trust you.
This is especially true if you are one of the company’s first employees.
Things to consider:
While the business owner needs to trust you, it’s also fair for you to understand just how controlling your new employer will be. While you probably don’t want to come out and ask if they’re a control freak, you might try some of the following questions:
- What type of tasks would I be working on?
- Would I work independently?
- What’s your management style?
Job Seeker Tip #5: Be Aware of the Salary and Benefits (or lack of)
Marie Choppin, founder of Lotus Point Wellness, says, “You will have to realistic about what a startup/small business can afford to pay you.”
Many startups don’t have the benefits packages or perks that large companies offer, so if you accept a job with a small business you may find yourself with a bit of a lower salary than you might have been able to win in another position.
But, as Marie notes, “There is a thrill of being a part of something that is growing, even if it means you have to start with a lower salary. If you’re willing to take a risk, it’ll be worth the ride!”
Job Seeker Tip #6: There is unlimited growth potential
If you are able to secure a position with a growing small business, the opportunities to learn and grow are endless. But you will have to work for it.
This will not be the type of position where you get an annual raise and promotion just for showing up. Your job description is a starting point, but what you do with it is up to you.
The bottom line is, if you want a job with a startup make things easy for your prospective employer from the very start. I promise you that each and every business owner has a to-do list of at least a hundred items. If you can show them why hiring you would make their life easier, you’ll blow any other job seeker out of the water.