Dave Kerpen | The Secret to Getting a Dream Job at a Startup
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The Secret to Getting a Dream Job at a Startup

The Secret to Getting a Dream Job at a Startup

Before I was a startup entrepreneur, I had a string of jobs, working for different companies. Some were great, and some were, well, not so great. I wish back then I knew what I know now how about how to get the job of your dreams and work at the company of your dreams.

To help give you some insight into how to get your dream job at a startup, I chatted with members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. Here’s what they had to say about how to get your dream job working for them:

1. Bring Solutions, Not Problems

No matter the job, I’m always going to hire the person who brought me a solution, not a problem. Instead of saying, “The Internet is down!” for example, the right employee would have added that they’d already called the phone company, figured out how long it would be out for and looked to see if a great movie we all wanted to watch was playing during that time.

Michael Portman, Co-Founder, Birds Barbershop

 

2. Do Your Homework

Be yourself. We’re building a different kind of company where passion and aptitude trump your resume. Do your homework on our company and know the job you are interviewing for. Ask good questions. An interview is as much about us as it is about you. Admit your weaknesses and the things you don’t know, and tell us why we’d want to spend more time each week with you than our families.

– Peter Sena, Founder / Executive Creative Director, Digital Surgeons

 

3. Be Prepared

Getting a job is a sales operation. I’m looking for the right person to solve my pain points. You are selling your product (yourself) and how it solves my problem. We will notice quickly if you lie, embellish, or misrepresent who you are. Be yourself. We aren’t a fit for everyone, but I’ve helped many interviewees find jobs at other companies in my network.

Jeremy Brandt, Founder / CEO, WeBuyHouses.com

 

4. Show Me How You Fit

We’ve done a lot of hiring recently — one opening was for a design position. A candidate who applied wasn’t the right fit for the posted job, but had an amazing portfolio. The talent was clearly there, so we created a position for her. Job posts are guidelines. What we’re actually looking for are talent people to grow our team. Wow me with your talent, and we’ll find a way to make it work.

Tekin Tatar, Co-Founder, CEO, BeFunky Inc

 

5. Be Scrappy

The secret sauce at ZinePak is scrappiness. I need you to be able to find a solution when one isn’t easy to see, work in a way you haven’t before, and learn a brand new program all while keeping a smile on your face. The secret equation: “hustle” + “do more with less” = scrappy. Not only do we need to outwork and outsmart everyone else but we must also do it using only what is available.

Kim Kaupe, Co-Founder, ZinePak

 

6. Show Some Initiative

We want people who are willing to take risks, come up with ideas and try new things. So, show some initiative and ingenuity even in the hiring process. Take liberties with our brand and bring a good idea or two to our interview. Even if it’s off base, I’ll be impressed that you’re already willing to dream with us.

Sam Davidson, Co-founder, Batch

 

7. Own It

I look for every person hired at Contently to “own it.” We like problem solvers, people who can Google the answers to their own questions and find unconventional angles from which to approach challenges. “Owning it” means going above the job description and seeing opportunities in what “can’t” be done.

Shane Snow, Chief Creative Officer, Contently

 

8. Know the Industry Intimately

At Grapevine, we help YouTube creators partner with beauty, fashion and lifestyle brands for sponsorships. Therefore, if you own and operate a YouTube channel or have experience doing marketing for beauty, fashion and lifestyle companies, you’ll have a leg up against the competition who might not know a thing about our clients, creators or their viewers.

Danny Wong, Growth & Marketing, Grapevine

 

9. Show Your Hunger For Learning

Show me your hunger for learning and growing. Millions of workers have no drive other than to do a good job. This won’t grab my attention — I want the go-getters with tons of potential. Someone who shows how they can take the resources we have to bring the company to the next level is better than any busy bee. I don’t hire experts — I hire people who, when given the right tools, become them.

– Jojo Hedaya, co-founder, Unroll.me

 

10. Embrace Your Inner Weird

As a LEGO rental company, our team is made up of a bunch of creative, unique, and kooky individuals. We allow each other to embrace the weird and come up with ideas that are really outside the box. So, talk about what you love and are passionate about, work hard and ‘Pley’ harder.

Ranan Lachman, CEO, Pley

 

11. Go Above and Beyond

Around Christmas 2013, I got a holiday card from a young lady looking for an internship. It had no resume, however; it was hand-written and described her qualifications and interest. If you are looking to work with a company of fewer than 100 people, this leaves quite an impression. There is something counter-intuitive and classy about hand-written notes that really resonates.

Raoul Davis, CEO, Ascendant Group

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