5 ways to rock any startup job fair

Are you going to the NYC Startup Job Fair on Friday?

If so, awesome! I’ll be there and maybe we can catch up (you won’t have any problem finding me – trust me on this one).

But since I won’t have a chance to talk to you before then, I want to give you 5 tips to make sure you make the most of the experience. (Make sure you get to tip number 5 – it’s the one most people don’t think about.)

Target 5-10 ‘must meet’ companies

Don’t ‘spray and pray’. Do your homework and pick 5-10 companies that seem like they’d be awesome to work for. Spend the next day or so researching the heck out of them. When you visit those companies at the job fair it’ll show that you did your homework. And it’s a much better use of your time than wandering aimlessly!

1:1′s are way more fun

The best way to get a startup job is by making a personal connection with a hiring manager or a founder. Lob in a LinkedIn request for introduction to someone you know who knows someone at the target company. See if you can get them to agree to spend 15 minutes with you 1:1 so you have a shot at making that connection.

Feels kind of pushy, huh? Well, what’s the worst that could happen? I thought so. But do it fast, you’re running out of time!

Don’t be ‘that guy’

You know the one. The one that hogs the recruiter’s time while a huge line forms. Just say your piece, make a good impression, and then get out of the way!

No one likes a ball hog on the court, and no one likes a recruiter hog(?) either.

Tell ‘em what you built

If you want to work at a startup, you should start something. Assuming you’ve built something from the ground up (a product, a meetup, an eBook, or anything else) then be ready to talk about it. Startups love builders – make sure that the companies you talk with know that’s what you are!

Square pegs sometimes DO fit in round holes

Don’t be discouraged if the company’s open jobs don’t match your skillset. Startups are likely to overlook some gaps in your background if you’re exceptional in other areas. But you’ll never know unless you have a conversation with them – so go over and say ‘Hello’ to a company you think is really great even if you don’t check all the boxes on their job descriptions.

Don’t forget the other job seekers

It’s not all about the employers. Be open to hanging out a bit and meeting some of the attendees. It’s a break from being on your game all day, and who knows where it could lead in the future…

Do you have other tips? Share them in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

John Gannon
I have over 15 years of experience working in the trenches at successful startups, high growth companies, and VC firms. During that time, I've managed, interviewed, and coached hundreds of people -- and I've worked in almost every business functional role, including marketing, product management, and business development.
John Gannon
John Gannon
John Gannon

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