How You Can Join a Startup Without Any Startup Experience

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How You Can Join a Startup Without Any Startup Experience

How do you get experience without any to begin with?

How You Can Join a Startup Without Any Startup Experience
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So, how do you get into a startup?

Tough question. For one, there are startups in many industries and sectors. Therefore, talent requirement differs.

That is the part of the iceberg you see. It accounts for 20% of the startup iceberg.

The remaining 80% are tacit requirements. Tacit refers to a mixed bag of professional experience, exposure, knowledge, and what our gut tells us.

I know because I work in one. I also take on active fractional executive roles in a couple of others.

This question killed me.

I recently secured a budget to hire 2 headcounts for the regional office. My Group CEO told me the following when the paper was approved.

“Don’t forget we are working towards Series B funding at year-end. We need power players!”

It is easy to interpret power players as sales professionals. After all, we must prove to be on a healthy path of revenue generation before Series B at the end of the year.

But I know it takes more than sales professional to build a business. This is especially so for a startup focusing on aggressive growth.

In particular, we need power players with the following skillsets.

You may think this is an impossible ask. I think so too. And so, I decided to consult friends working in startups in different industries.

I desperately need to know how do they hire?

As it turns out, they share the same thoughts as me in hiring. The only difference? They know where the talent hunting pool is.

Hiring people is an art, not a science, and resumes can’t tell you whether someone will fit into a company’s culture.

Howard Schultz

I distilled what I learned from my peers below.

Take note. I arranged these points according to the frequency of mention. It does not mean you stand zero chance coming from the outside.

Next, personality attributes matter more than you think. Startup hirers like myself are trained to pick that up. I will address this point in detail further below.

Management Consulting or Other Consulting Practices

This is not surprising to me.

Startups require people who can see the big picture as we pursue aggressive growth. Many co-founders and anchor founding team members have little time to explain Vision, Mission, growth strategy, and target markets.

Professionals with consulting backgrounds fit this bill. They know how to get their work done even when they miss a flight, lose their phones, and oversleep.

Because that is the environment they are exposed to in the Consulting World. I know because I am a consultant by professional training.

It is just convenient.

Disruption Technology Startups or Venture Tech Firms

People from a Disruptive Technology background understand the following.

No one in the marketplace believes in their products and services.

Niche and leadership matter more than market capitalization.

The cost of customer acquisition is high at the beginning.

These people know that successful monetization is a result, not a strategy. Therefore, they work to provide unparalleled value up front to build their business.

Software companies such as Substack, Meta, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Grammarly started this way. The people from these backgrounds need not be inducted into the startup environment.

They are already inducted.

Investing Banking

These folks can pitch. Period.

I have seen them in action. These folks can spit out proposals, valuations, and product presentations without batting an eyelid.

Want to raise funds? You know who to look for.

I say this with brutal honesty. You will be at a disadvantage. However, you will not be glossed over.

Now, I can only speak for myself. I do not filter out candidates without the above background and experience.

Instead, I put in more effort to uncover hidden gems. I search for the following attributes.

Their ability to get work done without team support.

Their ability to take on more roles in a single job.

Evidence of continuous learning.

These unspoken attributes point to a candidate who is a self-sufficient go-getter. It also suggests that they work to stay relevant and ahead of the industry curve.

You must elaborate on the above attributes if you land an interview with a startup.

Go to Publisher:

Entrepreneur's Handbook – Medium


Author: Aldric Chen