The UK is a growing nation of bootstrapping entrepreneurs, as 526,446 new businesses were registered with Companies House in 2013, beating the 484,224 new businesses recorded in 2012. It seems that now is a better time than ever to be entering Britain’s vibrant startup scene. And why wouldn’t you want to work in a startup? Known for their exciting ideas, risk-taking, and almost limitless opportunity, it’s no surprise that an increasing number of young people are looking to join the startup community when they leave college or university. If you have caught the startup bug too and want to stand out from the crowd, take note of the advice given from those who have been there, done that and got the startup t-shirt.
Present Yourself as a Brandstar
Your CV is often the first contact you will have with the employer so it needs to be attention grabbing and packed with relevant information. What can you offer to them? Why should they invest in you? Holly Clarke got her job at AirBnB by presenting herself as a brand. She did this through the design of her CV and creating consistency throughout all of her public outlets.
She advises thinking about your CV like a great website homepage. Holly created a bold and colourful page that stood out from the crowd and used visual imagery to emphasise and summarise longer points. AirBnB was her target market and like any good brand, she worked hard to appeal to her audience. AirBnB is a company that embraces adventure, so she included a picture in the header of herself climbing a mountain to visually demonstrate that she sees the world the same way they do. She was also careful to keep her brand consistent by bringing all of her online medias into line. She did this by using the same profile picture, links, and bio across all of her social media sites.
Learn to Code
Whether you love or loathe it, Devin Hunt is probably right when he says that coding is something that pretty much everyone in a startup needs to know (and everyone else should probably know a little). You won’t be expected to build a website from scratch, but having basic HTML and CSS skills will be extremely useful when working on social media, a website or a blog.
“They’re teaching people to code in the womb these days”, states Simon Thethi, founder of TechCity News.
Get Yourself Out There!
Amanda Foley of audience.io advises to network, network and then network some more. Attend events, meet those in the business and be prepared to answer questions about yourself. Amanda has a great list (page 19) of the best websites and networking events for finding startup jobs.
Use Your Social Networks
Remember, your social networks are a reflection of you. Holly Clarke says she can’t believe that people don’t Google themselves – “I don’t want to see pictures of you drunk”. Instead of tweeting anything that springs into your head, opt for quality over quantity. Show an active interest in the startup you are keen to join by following them on Twitter or viewing them on LinkedIn. Ensure that you are tweeting about relevant and interesting things and engaging with the readily available online community.
Show don’t Tell
Jeremy Waite says that he doesn’t look back beyond 18 months on someone’s CV and Joe Cohen, co-founder of Seatwave, says that startups need the sort of people who “get shit done”. Get involved with student societies, learn new skills and build up as much experience as you can. Startups are looking to hire people who can demonstrate innovation, flexibility and ‘intrapreneurship’. So, don’t just tell them what you can do but prove it through real examples.
There is no Better Time than Now.
Finally, don’t let your age put you off aiming high. Like Joe Cohen says, when you’re young and have few other responsibilities it is the ideal time to try new things- there is never a good excuse to wait.
Camilla is the Communications Officer at NACUE and can be found blogging on vHub. NACUE directly supports the creation of enterprise societies in education institutions throughout the UK; organises events where students can learn from experts and each other; distributes funds to societies, and is a national advocate for students in discussions of employment and education. Find out about their Student Enterprise Conference.