You know the billionaire stories. Bill Gates, Larry Page, Phil Knight–all of them started in a “garage”, nursing a dream, following a vision, and working insane hours to turn aspiring startups into billion dollar companies.

But they weren’t the only one who enjoyed the fruits of their creative genius. Other people joined the ride sooner or later, and became multi-millionaires in the process–without having the X-factor of the business legends. They simply jump on the right boat at the right time.

Was it an intentional decision, or pure luck that they joined these companies, and not one of the thousands or millions other startups that eventually failed? Hard to say.

Anyway, working in a startup is an excellent experience. Especially when you team up with people who like both to dream and work hard (without hard work no dream will turn reality). Let’s have a look at some ways how you can jump on the train, and possible become a millionaire (or at least have the experience of working in a startup).


Attend startup weekends, hackatons, and similar events

One of the best ways of getting a job in a startup company is being one of the founders. Startup weekends and other events offer a great opportunity to become one.

Surely, it’s not a real job at the beginning. You typically won’t earn any money during the first few months, or even years. If you can afford earning nothing, however (being a student, living with your parents, etc), you should give this a go.

Nobody benefits more from a success of a startup than the founders. The earlier you join the team, the more you will benefit if it eventually succeeds–and rightly so.

When attending these events, try to give your very best. Do not be a passive member of a team. Showcase your skills, work in the night, demonstrate your dedication and enthusiasm for the idea of a new company. The more you give, the more you’ll get.

Group of young people work on a new startup

Apply directly with the company of your choice

In many ways, startups do not work as typical companies do. They do not have professional interviewers in their teams (at least not in the beginning), most decisions are taken on the go, and things often change on a daily basis.

What does it mean for you as someone who’d love to work in a startup?

It means that you can have more success applying in a direct way. Do they have a website? Shot them an email with your resume attached, and clearly describe the value you could bring to their team. Can be your coding skills, marketing ideas, sales skills, whatever they may need.

A proper research is crucial for your success. The more you know about the startup, the easier it will be to formulate the right message–one that will open you the doors to their company.


Meet the owners in person

Once a startup begins to grows, and a need for new faces in the team intensifies, you will often meet these guys in job fairs, co-working centers, or basically in any places where they can hunt for some young talent.

They will also typically participate in trade fairs and other venues, trying to promote their business and products.

This is your chance to meet the right people, to deliver an excellent pitch, to try and “sell yourself” to the guys from the startup. Surely one needs some courage to go and talk, but it is your best bet to make an impression that’s hard to forget.

If you decide to meet the owners of a particular startup in person, be sure think about the words you want to say. First impression is made only once, and you typically won’t have more than few minutes to grab their attention.

Try to clearly explain why you want to join the team, and how they can benefit from having you onboard. Do not forget to bring your resume with you.

And do not forget to follow up on this first meeting.


Work on your IT skills, be visible

Let’s face the reality of the employment market. Companies struggle with IT recruitment. Big and established players find it hard to recruit new programmers and testers. They can’t attract new people with their reputation, and almost endless budgets.

What about startups then? They can’t afford to pay the same salaries, they won’t give you holiday voucher of home office each Friday. Yet they need new staff.

Bearing this in mind, one of the easiest ways to improve your chances of getting a job at a startup is improving your IT skills. Learn a new programming language, become proficient in this or that software. And let the others now about your skills–update your LI profile, FaceBook (if you still use it), and so on.

Man is working on his IT skills, trying to learn programming

Apply for a job in a traditional way

“Startupists” may have their own way of doing things, starting from leading business and ending with recruitment. But they do use also traditional hiring tools. They will publish job offers on big and specialized job boards, waiting for applicants to submit their resume.

In such a case, getting a job with a startup company doesn’t differ much from getting any other job.

You should submit a great job application, prepare for your interview, and try your very best on the big day.


Conclusion and next steps

Getting a job at a startup may be easier than you thought–especially if you do not demand much–in terms of your starting salary.

Try to become a part of the startup community, going to events and fairs, meeting owners or to-be owners. Work on your IT skills, and make yourself visible on the employment market.

At the end of the day, do not forget about the traditional way of getting a job–applying for job offers posted on job boards, and going through the typical procedure with interviews and everything else.

It may be your way towards a coveted (and better paid) position at a growing startup. We wish you good luck!

Matthew Chulaw
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