5 Tips to Get a Job at a Tech Startup in 2024

5 Tips to Get a Job at a Tech Startup in 2023

For those looking to join the ranks at an up-and-coming startup, you’re in luck – the startup industry is creating new jobs at a rapid pace. To give you an indication: the United States generated 6.4 million new jobs in 2021, and almost half of those were in startups. It’s undoubtedly a promising place to look for work, especially if you’ve been affected by the recent wave of tech layoffs in the US.

Availability isn’t the only appeal, either; startups tend to have an exciting, inclusive culture that can be a refreshing change of pace from the traditional corporate world. They also tend to offer greater opportunities for creative thinking, risk-taking, and career growth.

So, how can you make sure you’re one of the people that gets hired by a startup? Here are five essential tips to get your foot in the door.

Tip 1: Identify the Skills Tech Startups Are Looking for

Startups tend to target the young, the ambitious, and the tech-savvy. They need individuals who are comfortable with change and willing to take risks. So it’s no wonder that many of the roles available  at startups are in sales, marketing, and technology. But not all startups are looking for the same skills: if you want to stand out, you’ll need to highlight technical skills for your resume, on top of essential soft skills.

If you’re already in tech…

If you’re a tech expert in product, engineering, or data analysis, for example, and you’re looking to leave your corporate job for an up-and-coming tech startup, you may find yourself wearing multiple hats – for better or worse. However, if you’re enthusiastic at the prospect of expanding your responsibilities, many tech startups are in need of professionals with more than just one area of expertise.

For example, you can make yourself more marketable and stand out from other experts in your field with similar backgrounds by developing top in-demand tech skills. As part of the top tech skills for jobs according to Forbes, consider one or more of the following 5 skills to hone and add to your resume:

1. UX design skills

Understanding how users interact with a product and how to make their experience seamless is a major part of a company’s added value. Even if you’re a UX designer by profession, understanding the basics to make your product or service more intuitive and accessible to users, whether they’re tech-savyy or not.

2. Cloud computing skills

With more and more data being stored in the cloud, tech startups will always require people capable of managing their databases. If you’re not already a cloud computing expert, understanding the basics is a great start. Once you’ve identified the problems of tech startups you’re interested in, you can build up your knowledge to better answer their needs.

3. Cybersecurity skills

Closely related to cloud computing, cyber security is an issue every business faces today. Due to an increasing number of professionals working from home and more of your work ending up in digital domains, being able to keep data safe will make you a highly attractive employee.

4. Skills in digital marketing

Thanks to an increase in marketing tools, digital marketing today is increasingly focused on your ability to analyze data and apply solutions to capture and retain consumers’ interest. Whether you’re more interested in the tech side or the creative side of digital marketing, this is one skillset that will boost your resume’s skill section.

5. Skills in AI and machine learning

More and more companies, including tech startups, are integrating machine learning to their resource-intensive processes and increase automation. This allows them to make faster (and better) decisions to identify and optimize growth opportunities. Tech startups often find their needs change and should be flexible to be competitive  – quickly. With AI allowing them to adapt their strategies, you’ll find yourself required to work with AI-integrated applications and devices.

At the very least, you should have functioning knowledge and an interest in ongoing learning to match with a startup’s more flexible and fluid set of needs.

If you’re not a tech expert…

That being said, there are opportunities for all kinds of professionals at startups – not just those with backgrounds in STEM. Startups need accountants, customer service reps, HR managers, and so on. The key is to identify the specific skills and experience that a startup is looking for and then focus your job search on those roles that will value your areas of expertise.

As businesses have become more and more focused on company culture, there has been an increased emphasis put on hiring people, not positions. This means that they will target those who fit with the company ethos and mission, sometimes regardless of previous experience, and will focus on soft skills such as communication (written, oral, and asynchronous), teamwork, and leadership skills.

They believe that through training and professional development, these individuals will eventually be able to fulfill the role they are hired for. So, if you’re a good fit for the startup on a personal level, don’t hesitate to apply for a role even if you don’t have all of the technical skills and experience they’re asking for.

With remote and hybrid work models progressively being normalized, you’ll want to highlight essential soft skills that position you as an ideal team member for the startup you’re targeting – both in a professional and social aspect.

Tip 2: Perfect Your Resume

In many cases, your resume will be the first touchpoint with a hiring manager, even before a cover letter. They’ll quickly scan it to decide whether your resume’s worth reading further.

That’s why it’s essential to make sure your resume is up-to-date, error-free, and relevant to the role you’re applying for. Start by ensuring that your contact information is included and correct. Then, focus on creating a strong summary statement that succinctly outlines your skills, experience, and accomplishments.

Next, add any relevant work experience – including internships, volunteer roles, and part-time jobs. Be sure to highlight any responsibilities and duties that are most relevant to the role you’re targeting. Finally, add any skills or education that make you qualified for the job.

If you don’t have much work experience, that’s okay – there are other ways to stand out and show you’re a good fit for the role. Use your resume as an opportunity to highlight any awards, extracurricular activities, or side projects that demonstrate your motivation, personality, and ability to succeed.

Not much experience crafting the perfect resume? That’s okay too! There are plenty of online resume-building resources to help you get started.

Tip 3: Write a Killer Cover Letter

Now it’s pitch time. In your cover letter, you’ll want to capture the attention of the hiring manager and convince them that you’re the best candidate for the job.

Start by doing your research on the company.

  • What are their values?
  • How do they operate?
  • What kinds of pain points are they facing?

By understanding these, you can focus your cover letter on how you can help them overcome these challenges thanks to your relevant experience and skills.

Next, make a strong case in your cover letter as to why you’re the right person for the job. Use specific examples from your previous work experience, education, and personal life to demonstrate how you have the qualities they are looking for.

Remember that even if you are coming from an entirely different industry, there are still valuable transferable skills that you can highlight. Succinctly prove to them how you will leverage those skills to excel in the role.

Finally, end your cover letter on a strong note by restating your interest in the role and thanking the hiring manager for their time.

Once again, if you’re overwhelmed by the idea of fitting all this and your information into a one-page letter, look for resources on how to write a concise cover letter to get inspired and help you get started.

Tip 4: Leverage Your Connections

Don’t be afraid to ask your friends, family, or professional contacts if they know anyone who works at the startup you’re interested in. If you have a connection, that’s half the battle – now it’s just a matter of getting your foot in the door.

Your next step is to reach out to your contact and explain that you’re interested in working at the company. Given how flexible the recruitment process is at most startups, they may have even been asked to keep an eye out for you.

The worst they can say is no, but the best-case scenario is that you’ve just added another layer of support to your job search.

Even if you don’t have any direct connections, there’s still hope. Check out social media and see if you can find anyone who works at the company. See if you have any mutual friends or interests that could help break the ice.

Once you’ve made a connection, reach out and explain that you’re interested in working at the company – they may be able to pass along your resume or put in a good word.

It could be something as simple as an email or LinkedIn message that reads:

Sample email or LinkedIn message:

Hi [name],

I saw that you work at [startup] and I’m very interested in working there as well. Do you have 15 minutes to sit down for coffee – my treat! – to talk about what it’s like working there and how I could best position myself for a role?


[Your name]

Some people are afraid to ask for help in a job search but just think about it from the other side. You’d probably be flattered if the roles were reversed and someone reached out to you asking for advice!

If you don’t live in a tech hub and have trouble finding professionals in your area you can reach out to, you can still meet virtually by connecting one-on-one. You can also connect with professionals during live-streamed events or conferences. If you’re lucky, you may even find a mentor willing to coach you and give you professional advice and coaching.

Tip 5: Emphasize Skills Over Tenure

We’re taught early in our careers that the number of years of experience will determine the positions we can get. In the startup world, that’s not necessarily the case.

While experience is valuable, startups are often more interested in what you can do rather than how long you’ve been doing it. They’re looking to hire talent that’s passionate, driven, and excited to tackle new challenges.

If you don’t have much experience in a given field, that’s not a death sentence – there are other ways to show that you have the right stuff.

Highlight any leadership roles you’ve held in extracurricular activities or side projects. Write about the lessons and skills you learned at your last position and how they can be transferred to this new industry.

Startups value people who are excited about learning and growing, so don’t be afraid to show your enthusiasm for the role you’re applying for. If you can demonstrate that you have the right attitude and aptitude, even without a lot of experience, you’ll be one step closer to getting hired.

Happy Job Hunting!

That’s it! Sounds simple, doesn’t it? In reality, it will take a lot of time, energy, and dedication to land your dream job in a startup. But if you follow these five tips, you’ll be well on your way to success.

Leverage your connections, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and focus on skills,  rather than tenure, in your resume and cover letter. With the right attitude and approach, you’ll be sure to stand out from the crowd and get hired by the best startups in 2024.

Author: Dominique Vatin, Staff Writer at Resume Genius

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