Advice from an Actively-Recruiting Startup Founder
I’ve met and hired phenomenal talent through AngelList, so I’m a huge fan. However, it’s also been very eye-opening to see how most candidates handle the jobseeking process and how many get it so wrong.
Here are ten things you should know about about finding a job on AngelList, based upon my experience hiring:
- Know your audience. When you apply for a job on AngelList, especially one at an early-stage startup, you are most likely dealing directly with the CEO or another decisionmaker. Typically, there is no Head of HR or hiring manager acting as intermediary. That means that every interaction you have during the process is probably with the ultimate decisionmaker. Every impression you make counts. Don’t squander it.
- Demonstrate your chutzpah early in the process. Apps like RocketReach and Rapportive make it easy to find direct emails for the people you want to contact. Show me that you are both determined and resourceful by finding my direct email. Show me that you’ve done a little research. Startups need hires with the “startup mentality” and proving you have it starts early in the hiring process.
- Understand how AngelList works. When you apply for a job on AngelList, I receive a notification by email telling me that you have applied. Then, I can choose to “match” with you. If you seem qualified, I will match with you. From there we can start a dialog, but unless you have a truly memorable name, trust me when I tell you that I can’t remember anything about you if you wait 48 hours to respond. So, either respond right away while you’re fresh in my mind, or when you finally do respond, remind me of who you are, which job you are applying for, why I should care and what your qualifications are in the response. Otherwise, I can’t remember.
- Be the perfect candidate. In an ideal world, startup founders would not spend much time interviewing or hiring. Recruiting distracts from our most important role, building the business. But, building a stellar team is vital to a company’s success. So, know that we want you to be our perfect candidate. We don’t want to sort through all 113 applicants. (We don’t have time to sort through them all.) Instead, we want there to be serendipity. Tell me why I can stop looking right now. And then convince me. I want to believe you.
- Follow up. Several times. Startup founders are busy and distracted. We don’t have administrative assistants or big teams to lean on. (That’s why we’re actively hiring.) If we don’t respond, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you we don’t like you. It just might mean that we got busy or that we forgot to respond. Be persistent. Persistence is a trait that is vitally important to a startup.
- Follow directions. I qualify all candidates early in the recruiting process by giving them a very simple task to see how well they follow directions. Usually it is something like, “Let me know if you can speak tomorrow at 2 or 4, and if that works, please send a calendar invitation to my email address with your contact information.” A surprising number of candidates fail at this simple task. If you can’t schedule a call, you probably can’t build our app. Game over.
- First impressions go a long way. You are marketing yourself. If you are applying for a job in marketing or design, then your materials had better be really stellar. If you can’t market yourself (a product with which you are intimately familiar and presumably adore) then I have absolutely zero hope that you can market mine. Game over.
- Check your content. Then double-check it. Again. Your AngelList profile and your LinkedIn profile should be thoroughly proofread, complete and devoid of errors. If I see a typo in one of these places, then I know that you aren’t detail-oriented. Game over.
- Think about how all of your content looks to a third-party observer. (Really really think about it.) If your LinkedIn profile and your AngelList profile seem schizophrenic, then I will be confused. If your profile photo is the one you use for Tinder, that’s probably not quite right, either. You’re telling and selling the story of you, so make it clear. Don’t make me work hard to figure out what you’re good at.
- Be memorable. Startup people are a special breed. Show us your quirks (the good ones). We like quirky.
Most importantly, know that I desperately hope that you are the perfect candidate. I don’t want to interview 23 other candidates; I want to hire you right there on the spot. That’s the truth!
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