1. First prepare your Resume. You need not wait till you are ready to switch jobs or get fired. You should periodically update your Resume from time to time. Check these resources out:
Check out this thread on Reddit which discussed a few red flags on a resume or cover letter which will prevent you from getting a call back:
2. Prepare your LinkedIn profile. Most recruiters nowadays use LinkedIn and it is vital that you have an updated LinkedIn Profile which matches your Resume. Since you are already using LinkedIn you know the power of this site.
Here are a few tips:
3. Create a profile on AngelList and connect with relevant people there: https://angel.co/. I got my Product Management job through this site and I can’t recommend it enough. Here you get the chance to connect with 100s of start ups who use AngelList to hire people. If you send a connection request and the StartUp connects with you, then an email is sent to both of you cc’ing each other and a meeting is set. Make sure you mention in the Heading that you are looking for a Job and tune your profile settings accordingly.
4. Follow relevant Twitter and LinkedIn Job boards. One I found interesting is: https://twitter.com/hasjob
5. Check out the ‘Jobs you might be interested in’ feature on LinkedIn.
It looks some thing like this:
You can check the total number of applicants who have applied through LinkedIn. Once you upgrade to Linked Premium you can also see where you stand amongst them. It is the next step.
6. Upgrade to LinkedIn Premium. It is free for the first month. I request you to do this only when you are done with the other steps and are confident of getting a job in a month (So that you don’t have to pay for the recurring subscription) . LinkedIn Premium gives you the chance to send InMail which is a brilliant way of connecting with people who are not in your connection list on LinkedIn. Imagine the chance to get a mail directly to the CEO of the start up you are applying for.
The above were the basic steps which would help you apply to any job and not just Startup jobs. Let us now focus on a few more things you can do to make sure you stand out and land your dream job :
7. Make a list of start ups you want to apply at (At least 50). Best way would be to use articles like these : http://yourstory.com/2015/04/startup-funding-report-for-2015-q1/. In the article you can find the major VC funds which have invested in Indian StartUps. Check out their Indian Portfolio. This approach is valid whether you are in India or any other country. Go through their sites (especially the Career page) and decide whether you would like to work for them. If there is an opportunity which excites you. If Yes then add the Startup to your list. Connect to the Founders, Senior employees on LinkedIn and introduce yourself through InMail or ask for an introduction through mutual connections. You need to hustle. Write a suitable intro, mention your interest in working for them and how you can help their StartUp with your skills.
A few more resources:
8. Send a suitable Cover letter/ Introduction letter with your CV.
When I applied for any position I used to always write why I was interested in the Profile as well as the company. The mail/letter used to be different for each Start Up. I got a reply in most cases. The following is the one I sent to a StartUp which had an open position for Associate Product Manager (when I was first hustling to get a product role 3 years back):
I recently went to meet my girlfriend in X. All I wanted was to spend some quality time with her by exploring the city. But there was no known services for hiring bike/car. So we had to keep taking autos and I ended up shelling close to 1000 bucks a day. And I really wished something like Y was here.
When I searched for Y on Google for the first time after learning of a possible job opportunity from a friend, I particularly noticed that the description spelled “Y Carrers” under your career section in the Search Results. This is me. I tend to notice minute details. I obsess over ways products can be made better.
I have been contemplating a shift in my career and product management has been a career choice which I have wanted to pursue for some time. Coming from a background in software development, I feel empowered in my shift in career focus. I hope I can do that with the position of Associate Product Manager at Y.
I am currently a Node.js developer at Z, a stealth start-up working on providing secure enterprise communication/collaboration platform. I have written the entire notification and reporting system here at Z. I have also worked in the front end, dabbling in Android during my beginning months at this company. Apart from coding, I have always enjoyed wearing different hats and worked as Biz Development guy, Sales, Operations and in Testing.
I love learning. Whatever role I have been entrusted with I have tried to deliver. I have prior experience in the travel sector too. I was responsible for doubling the authorized agents under W during my time as an intern at the company and I was one of the two guys handling the entire North East region at that time.
I am passionate about the idea of Y because I believe it solves a real problem. I am confident that my love for technology, learning and leadership will enable me to make an impact at Y.
I hope to hear back from you soon.
I have removed the names for Privacy reasons. I don’t know how good the Cover Letter is but it did help me get the Interview. Don’t send generic Cover letters/ mails. Let the Cover Letter compliment your CV and give the HR another reason to hire you.
9. Learn each and everything you can about the StartUp you are applying for. I used to stalk the founders on the Web, learn everything I could about them as well as their StartUp (both present and past) and it helped me get their interest during the Interview.
10. Join Start Up communities on LinkedIn, Facebook, Meetup.com and Twitter ( Basically every social network you are on). I am a member of BITS2STARTUP here in India (a google group for BITSian StartUp enthusiasts) and I am sure there are many such communities/groups for your colleges too. Join Referral Networks present for your College Alumni and make sure you sure all your connections to land interviews.