The Egoistic Way To Getting a Job at a Startup

Niklas Agevik
Oct 13, 2016 · 3 min read

I’ve reviewed about 1,200 job applications at Instabridge. If I can give you one advice when applying for a job at a startup it’s this: be egoistic. Think about what is in your own self interest. In particular:

Be brief

This is important for two reasons:

  • It will make you look smarter and
  • It increases your chances of being seen

Somehow, the best candidates with years of experience manage to fit all of their accomplishments in one page while less strong candidates spend page after page describing their accomplishments. A brief CV not only indicates that you are smart and can be brief, it also ensures your important accomplishments stand out.

This is especially important in companies that don’t have a dedicated recruiter. In that case, someone in the team is doing their normal job and recruiting. Chances are they’ll scan incoming CVs quickly when they have time over from their “real” job.

Use a simple design

You need to maximise the space used to highlight your accomplishments. Designs or graphs describing your personality are cute and quirky but doesn’t help the recruiter. When skimming a CV, a recruiter is looking for your accomplishments.

Graphic design wise, black on white with an optional splurge on an accent color goes a long way.

Ask questions that help *you*

In an interview you might be curios about the company: how they think about competitor x or big trend y. Most recruiters and founders love these questions because they are prepared for them and can give great answers — after all, it´s their job to sell the opportunity of the company.

But in an interview that lasts less than an hour, it’s much more useful for you to get in the head of the recruiter and understand what they are looking for.

Questions like “What would the goals of this role be?” or “What skills do you look for in this position?” will help you understand which sides of yourself to highlight.

With that said, you are in your full rights to ask questions to help you decide if you want to work there or not. Just make a conscious decision of how you prioritise your limited time with the recruiter so that you maximize what you want to get out of the interview.

Accomplishments matter

There are no shortcuts to landing a great job. The best recruiters are looking for people with a specific skill set, not people that “seem nice” and eager to get the job. A well planned CV and being able to present yourself matters but your accomplishments have to speak for themselves.

In short: be awesome. Build your CV by focusing on yourself and find roles where you can have a direct impact.

Tell the truth

If you´ve already left a job and you had any fallouts with previous employers it’s in your absolute self interest that you are the one in charge of telling that story, not your ex employer which the recruiter will call immediately after you leave the room if they sense weakness in your story.

You have to explain why you left your previous job(s). Just say straight out why, especially if it reflects negative on you. It’s always painfully obvious when someone is hiding something and can’t really explain why they left a job in the past. Tell the truth and move on.

— — —

Oh — and if you´re looking for a job at a startup, you´re in luck. Instabridge is hiring! Good luck!

Written by

Runs startups, long distances. PM & CEO at @Instabridge.

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