Applying to a startup is completely different than applying to a large company. You’ve probably keyword-stuffed your resume to get through the HR screening. At a startup, everything is about value.
1. Understand Your Value Proposition
At it’s most basic, a value proposition is the benefit (or value) someone gets from something they pay for. Like a company trying to sell you a new product, you need to understand your value proposition to a startup.
If I was applying to work at Select Start, my value proposition would be:
- Designed, architected and developed 20+ iOS, Android and BlackBerry applications.
- Practiced Lean Startup principles to take multiple products from idea to market and deliver a revenue run rate of over $2M annually.
- Experience developing customers, testing ideas and validating markets prior to building a team and committing resources to a product.
What value can you bring to my startup today?
2. Tell a Story with Numbers
Great startups run lean and question everything. Every dollar out needs to equal more than one dollar in for the company to grow.
Using concrete numbers, tell a startup how you can add value. Explain how past experience may help a future startup:
Bootstrapped from $0 to $1M in revenue our first 18 months. Lead Select Start to our third year of 300% growth.
How does your value impact my top and bottom lines, products or customers?
3. Be A Generalist
There’s nothing more valuable to a startup than someone who understands the challenges every startup faces. Do you:
- Bring a broad array of skills outside of the role you were hired for?
- Know how your decisions impact a company’s burn rate?
- Understand how you can help create a sustainable competitive advantage?
Where else can you add value to a startup besides the role you were hired for?
4. Value Outside of a Startup
I Google everyone who applies to find out if they add value to the startup, engineering and design communities.
Make it easy for a startup to find your value. List your:
- Personal website.
- Social profiles like Twitter and Facebook.
- Creative profiles like Github, Stack Overflow and Hacker News.
Where could a startup investigate the value you create?
5. Be Valuable To Others (Get Referred)
A rule of raising investment is to get a referral from someone who the angel or VC respects. The same is true of applying to a startup. Find a way to connect with the founders via a mutual friend. Your odds of being hired are infinitely better than submitting a resume to the pile.
Who will vouch for the value you create?