3 tips to crush your startup job search

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Hiring managers for sales and business development positions at startups are looking for great candidates who are connected and who hustle. Below are 3 tips that will help you show that you’re both of those things.

1) Check in with your friendly neighborhood venture capitalist.

VCs are often a great way to find out which companies in the startup ecosystem are hiring. There are some subtle ways to identify which startups and which VCs to approach in your job search, and David Biesel of NextView Ventures put together a great series of posts about this very topic.

Personally, I think outreach to VCs is perhaps the most effective way to make sure you get noticed by hiring managers in the startup world.

Two of my past job searches strongly benefited from awesome introductions provided by folks in the VC community, so I can’t say enough about how effective this technique can be.

2) Track your activities and follow up tasks in a systematic way.

I’m a firm believer that the job hunt is very much like a sales process, where you’re prospecting (finding potential opportunities), conducting a needs assessment (interviewing), following up, and closing (negotiating your compensation package and signing on the dotted line).

After all, any startup salesperson is using a CRM of some sort to track and plan their activities — so wouldn’t you think that an aspiring startup salesperson would want to do the same?

In a recent job search, I used Highrise from 37signals to track relevant contacts as well as specific tasks related to job opportunities.  It’s very easy to use and has relatively low overhead.  Well worth the small monthly subscription for the time you’re running an active job search.

3) Avoid the front door, and use the back door when possible.

Job boards and company resume submission sites are usually dead ends when it comes to getting an invitation to interview for a position at any company, but especially startups, who rely heavily on referrals from trusted sources.

You’re much better off using jobs boards and sites to identify which companies may be hiring, and which jobs are available. Then, you can use LinkedIn to identify people you might know at the company who could potentially refer you to the hiring manager or a recruiter.

If you don’t know anyone at the company, you can still get your foot in the door by using these tools to identify people who are in the group that’s doing the hiring, and maybe develop some sort of a pitch (which you could deliver via a well written email, or a phone call).

I know this might seem a little pushy, but a more aggressive approach couldn’t hurt if you’re otherwise relying on job board or company website submissions.

I’d love to hear if you have some tips of your own to share, or if you have any experience (successful or not!) with the tips I’ve shared above.  Feel free to leave a comment below.

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