As a college grad, we’re all aware of the impending doom of being unable to find a job and struggling financially. A lot of companies require “experience” to apply. How on earth can you get this experience when you need a job to get it?

One word.


Startups are the new guys on the block. They’re the fresh faces just like you!

With seed funding seeing a 3x growth rate over the past 5 year, entrepreneurs are raising more and more capital every year to fund their startups. Adding talented employees to the team is a top priority of many of these largely bootstrapped companies which can provide a great opportunity for young college grads.

Startups can provide you with a lot of experience and knowledge but also are extremely exciting and challenging. Everyday, working a startup will bring along new challenges which are equally exciting! If this sounds like a good environment, finding a startup job is definitely possible as a young college grad! Proving you can provide value and lead to growth is the most essential factor!

Rather than playing corporate politics and belonging to soul-crushing office jobs, startups are famous for their uniqueness and a strong sense of company culture!

Not only that, quite a few startups offer possible equity in the company if you prove to be a valuable asset. Imagine having equity in Facebook before it took off. You’d be rich!

Simply put, startups are the place to be as a young college grad. So, how do you get a job at one of these startups?

Here are a few proven tips for you.


1.   Take a Focused Sniper Approach

The key is to take a sniper approach rather than a shotgun approach. Instead of aimlessly applying for hundreds of startup jobs and getting burned out, make a spreadsheet of your top 25 startups. Be sure to put effort into this. Research the startups, research their mission, research everything!

If it’s something you can see yourself getting behind and something you feel you’d be willing to sacrifice long hours for, then include it on the spreadsheet!

Use this research to your advantage now; when applying for this startup job you need to really personalize everything to show that you are serious. Stand out. It’s important to remember that startups are centered around growth. Demonstrate true leadership skills by getting your homework done and going after what you really want. Showcase your value and prove that by not having you as a member of the team they are losing out!


2. Know Their Product

If there is one thing that we know about startups is that they love people who know about their product.

You don’t have to dive deep into the product, but at least have a basic understanding of what it is, who it caters to, and how does it work. You can get bonus points if you can think of ways how you can improve that product.

You see, it is all about rising up from hundreds of other candidates. If you can prove that you are genuinely interested in a company, you understand their product, and even have ideas to take it forward and improve it, you will have a much better chance to get that job.


3. Referrals Work Even Better with Startups

Referrals are everything. Startups are seriously bootstrapped for cash 99% of the time and are hesitant to hire. Referrals are your gateway to the job. Find the names of existing employees and get to know them. Invite the founder to a coffee chat. Show you’re dedicated to the startup and that you really want that job.

If someone from inside the company recommends you, you always have a better chance to land that job. And it only amplifies in case of startups.


4. Nail Your LinkedIn Profile

Create a high-quality LinkedIn profile, really take time to ensure it speaks volumes about not only your skills but you as a person. Rather than being a soulless marketer, show you have a life and are vibrant. That’s the type startups are looking for.

Connect on LinkedIn with the founder, employees, and other relevant contacts. Explain who you are. Get known within the startup by doing this simple step and I guarantee you that you’ll land any startup job you like. It’s really this simple.

Now it may not work every time but if you do this several times going down your list of 25 startups you’d like to work for, you’re going to score an interview pretty quickly. Make sure to take your time, be unique, and be personal.


5. Focus on The Company’s Culture

When applying for startups, it is important to understand that there are two different criteria of recruiting employees:

  1. You need to have the right set of skills, understanding of the product, and vision to take the company and its product forward.
  2. Whether you are a good cultural fit for the company or not.

In big corporations, cultural fits may not be that important, but it certainly is in startups. Understand that you will not be a perfect cultural fit for every startup out there. And not every startup will be a good fit for you.

To truly understand the culture of an organization, visit their website and try to get a feel of it. You may also find a list of fun activities that the startup indulges in. For instance, if they have a basketball team, you may show off your own basketball skills in the resume and prove yourself a good fit for the organization.

The bottom line is that your own unique personality needs to properly reflect, and that will automatically the right kind of startups for you.


Parting Advice

It’s important to realize that everyone believes that they’re the next Steve Jobs, but odds are they aren’t. You have to take a look at it from the startups point of view: cash is tight and everyday is a struggle to stay afloat. Why would the startup gamble on someone fresh out of college with no experience?

Seeing it from their point of view helps.

Put yourself in their place and think to yourself “if I were them, what could an applicant do to convince me to give them a shot?” Seeing it from this point of view will change things.

And that’s really the key. Stand out, amongst all of the competition. Almost everyone will apply with a standard resume and cover letter. Do something to stand out, and make yourself known within the company. For instance, go to the interview with a list of ideas that can help the company in its growth, or send a video resume. You just have to prove your value and prove the fact that you care about the company and can successfully contribute to it.

If you can do this, you can have a very, very good shot at landing your dream startup job fresh out of college! This is a great career and life experience and can also be financially rewarding if you manage to secure equity in a company that takes off!

If you’re a young college grad, the startup world is the place to be! Go out there and research startups, compile a spreadsheet and secure that dream startup job today! It’s very possible and is extremely rewarding!