Applying to a Startup

Entering-startupCurrently at Uber we have 5 open positions, and that’s just in one of our cities. In the last 3 months we’ve grown from 8 to almost 20 people and we have no plans to slow down. Hiring is happening in a big way and building THE BEST team out there is one of the main things that keeps me up at night. After looking at over 1000 resumes  I’ve learned what gets my attention and what doesn’t. From my hiring experience, and from my applying experience, here are a few tips for applying to a startup, especially as a “business guy”.Understand what’s not important:Many resume’s highlight the wrong stuff.

Colleges teach you to take roles in meaningless clubs because that’s what the big companies look for. What stands out more is a meaningful impact on a group or hobby that you’re passionate about. Did you get something accomplished, or were you just a part of a group to pad the resume? I want to understand what drives you, what raises the hair on your neck with excitement, not just what you felt obligated to participate in to have a “well rounded experience”. A personal project that you dedicated yourself to, even with moderate traction, is far more impressive than a group you were involved with for 1 week a semester. It’s not about a checkbox, it’s about real experience.Titles from previous jobs are always overstated and it’s usually pretty easy to tell when I’m speaking to a candidate who has bloated their position at their previous company. They use phrases like, “my team was able to…”.

They use the overall companies revenue to highlight their individual performance. Make sure that when you talk about your experience at a previous job you’re very specific about your impact, your outcomes/results, and why you were involved in a particular project (highlight YOUR skills, not THEIR numbers). Understand the role: One of the more annoying things I see is when one person applies for 2 different roles at the company. Are you serious!!?? Worst case, just apply for one of the roles, write an awesome cover letter and mention that you think you’d also be able to make a solid impact at role #2 but back it up with skill sets that would support that claim. This is usually a show stopper for me.Understanding what the role will require of you is a clear indication of whether or not you took the time to research the company, team structure, product, etc.

I can sum this point up by saying, do your fracking research. In preliminary conversations I’m usually going to spend most time talking with you (the candidate) about past experiences. I want someone who can clearly describe what specific impact they made on a past project or company. Don’t lead with results (numbers) because then I feel like I’m being sold. I’d rather the selling come after I know the person and understand their core. Instead describe why you approached a problem the way you did, or describe the fun the team had because of a certain organization approach.

These examples are authentic & specific at the same time. Also, if you can’t have fun at work, it’s hard for me to understand why you’d have fun at this job. Find something you enjoyed about your previous gig and riff from there. Remember that at a startup you’re basically going to spend every waking moment with these people…it’s important you don’t suck to be around.*Don’t forget that you’re interviewing the company! It’s not only about them liking you, but you need to be excited to work with them too.Contacting the company:When I was at GE I knew that I needed to associate myself with a start up in order to get anyone respectable in the industry to consider me.

SO, I set out to work for what I thought was the best possible startup in the country at the time, Foursquare. I met up with Dennis & the team in NYC after a creative plot to get the mtg (which included lining up 30 mayor deals, 5 blog posts, and an investor intro) and basically said I’d work for free for 3 months. In that time I got to work with Tristan and learn a ton about what they were trying to accomplish as a product and business.A few tips on reaching out to a startup:

 

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