Leave the Suit at Home: Why Applying to a Startup Is Different



Applying to any job can be stressful and full of pitfalls. No one is a fan of the anxiety, stress, and unwritten rules of the job search and application process regardless of  how well qualified they are. Applying to a startup is similar in some respects to a standard company, but there are also major differences that you should consider before you look into applying for a startup job.

1. Startup jobs can be harder to find

Larger, more traditional companies usually have a team of recruiters to find talent and a dedicated talent portal on their website for candidates to apply on. Generally, startup jobs are filled via a personal connection or posting on a more niche website that contains a larger amount of startup opportunities than a general job board.

2. They may require a broader skillset

 For a traditional interview, you generally have to pare down your resume to show a mastery (or at least competence) in a particular specialty or niche of your field. For a startup, don’t be surprised if the job description is asking for someone who can show a broad range of skills as it’s likely most of them will be needed. If you’ve done it, show it.

3. The interviews tend to be less formal

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put your best foot forward, but many startups have a much shorter application to hire period than traditional companies. Startups often don’t have the time to wait months to find the perfect candidate, so if a candidate gels with the team and shows a strong knowledge base and passion for the position, they’re likely to get an offer in a shorter amount of time.

The dress code is also generally less stuffy, so your potential employer usually won’t expect you to show up wearing a suit for your interview, and certainly not for the job. Some of this is a reflection of startup culture: What you wear shouldn’t define who you are, and you should be comfortable while you work. Many larger companies stand on tradition to determine dress.

Working at a startup has major benefits, and the same goes for a more traditional company. Traditional companies offer the stability and resources many people value, while startups offer more freedom and the chance to wear many hats. Regardless of where you’re looking to apply, take the time to research each company carefully to ensure you and feel comfortable with the company culture, and can see yourself growing professionally from the experience.

Ace your next interview. Check out General Assembly’s full and part-time courses and workshops on the most relevant skills of the 21st century.

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Sean Little is the VP of Marketing for FirstJob.com. FirstJob matches current students and recent college graduates with internships and quality career opportunities. Sean also runs FirstJob’s campus ambassador program at campuses across the country, helping students learn marketing topics while connecting them with top brands and job opportunities. Get started with FirstJob by registering or searching today.

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