Start-ups are taking over the hiring landscape, never more so as technology becomes more and more accessible. If your goal is to work for a new tech company, there are several steps you can take to make your resume more start-up friendly.
Even though start-ups often require you to wear many hats, they don’t tend to hire generalists. They want talent that is custom-fitted to their vision. Start with a basic core resume, and then customise it to each particular application.
“The start-ups we work with want the best people with very specific skills. Analyse job descriptions to find out exactly what they are asking for and position your resume as the answer to their question.” — Toby Fowlston, Managing Director at Robert Walters
Emphasise the sort of character traits that start-ups relish: self-motivation, a great work ethic, willingness to go the extra mile to see a project succeed, passion for the subject matter, collaboration, flexibility, and curiosity.
Hone your objective
Make sure you have an objective at the top that is clear, concise, and creative. Don’t just rely on standard resume templates and their dry verbiage; come up with a hook that describes you in unique terms and will catch the attention of a busy CEO, summarising why you’re perfect for this particular company’s business and culture. Start-up leaders are busy; if you don’t grab their attention, they’re likely to toss your resume in the circular file.
Lose the tired lingo
Start-ups value innovations, so avoid standard resume buzzwords. Instead, be creative and even humorous with your wording. Treat your resume like a short story; use action verbs, non-cliché adjectives, and synonyms. Instead of 'self-motivated engineer, works well with a team' for example, perhaps write 'Unusually socially competent engineer who thrives equally well in collaborative scenarios as she does in an isolated corner'.
Prove that you get the culture
Demonstrate a passion for the company’s product, niche, culture, and vision. Do your research—including catching up on its social media—then mirror the culture of the company in the tone and vibe of your resume.
Start-ups are small knit groups of people working together in a small space. Proving that you fit in with the culture is one of the most important things you can do to demonstrate you are the perfect candidate.
Don’t be afraid to show confidence about personal successes. Your resume is no place to be modest.
Flaunt your online presence
If you have a web site, personal blog, or social media profiles specifically geared toward the job you’re applying for or the industry you work in, showcase them on your resume. The best way to land a job at a start-up is to be a thought leader in your field. Twitter is a great place to start seeding your online presence with brilliant quips about your intelligence and professional prowess.
Don’t be afraid to show confidence about personal successes. Your resume is no place to be modest. And be specific: don’t just list the programming languages you’re knowledgeable in; tell your prospective employer about particular success stories and times you saved the day.
Use a smart file name
Save your resume with a file name that includes your own name. When it’s on your computer, MyResume.pdf makes sense. When you send that to a recruiter or HR person, use your name in the title to make it easy to find.
In addition to the electronic version you email and the paper version you print out, make sure there’s a comprehensive version of your resume available online on LinkedIn. Also, if you are a designer and have a portfolio, make sure that it’s up to date and ready for the inquiring eyes of potential hiring managers. And beyond your resume, amp up your profile with recommendations, groups, a great profile photo, and regular status updates.
Need other CV tips? Here are the 6 common CV mistakes to avoid.
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