It's difficult to find a job, and it's even harder if you don't have any experience. It's a bit of a catch 22, because if no one will hire you, how are you supposed to get that experience?
That's why many fresh college grads are turning to jobs at startups. They can gain great skills, network like crazy, and have an impact on a brand new company.
But, just because a company is new doesn't mean they’ll take just anyone.
Here are a few tips for how you can increase your chances of landing a job at one of the hottest startup organizations, even if you're entering the workforce for the first time.
It's annoying when people say, 'it's all about who you know,' but you have control over getting your name on the map. Use LinkedIn to figure out where other alums, friends, family, and others are working. Usually people are happy to help, so don't hesitate to reach out.
While LinkedIn and other social media sites can be effective for networking, real life interactions are better for making connections. Meeting potential employers face to face can help you make a good impression, and it can happen in the line at the grocery store, on the bus, or at a friend's party. Major cities host career fairs often, and it might be a good idea to make a point to attend—you never know who you’ll run into!
2. Intern or Volunteer
While most full-time jobs require some experience, there are several internship and volunteer opportunities for grads who are responsible and competent, regardless of how many years they've been working (or not).
This is especially true for startups. Many new companies don't have the budget to pay full-time salaries, so they rely on workers who are looking to gain experience. You may not be making much money at first, but, boy, will you get experience. One day you could be managing social media, and the next day you could be digging through Google Analytics. Many companies will eventually hire their interns as they grow. Even if you don't get hired, it's experience that you can add to your resume.
Finding an internship or volunteer opportunity is fairly simple, too. InternMatch is geared specifically towards those looking for internships. The big job search sites like Monster and Indeed also list these types of opportunities.
Another option is to just go to the websites of startups you might like to work for, find a contact email, and send them a message asking about open opportunities.
3. Get Involved and Get Noticed
If you're still a college student, getting involved with different departments and activities on campus could go a long way. Some of your friends may start their own businesses, and you can take the opportunity to help them out. By becoming a leader on sports teams or in other clubs, you may gain skills you can leverage when you're finished with school.
If you've finished college, join a sports team or another club where you can meet people outside your usual circle.
One way to gain clout in the startup market is to start a personal website that shows off your area of expertise. The site will help establish you as knowledgeable in your field, and can help you stand out from the crowd.
There's also social media. Most startups are active users of platforms like Twitter and Facebook, so you should be too. Build yourself quality profiles on those platforms and follow any startups you find interesting. If you develop a relationship with them, they'll be more likely to consider you when an opportunity arises.
4. Take Initiative and Start Something New
If none of these sound like you, why not start your own business or build your own website? Those who have created businesses often say it makes them stand out from other job applicants, even if their company didn't make it big. Others are luckier- they never have to work under someone else!
A great idea doesn't equal a great business, so make sure you do plenty of research about what makes startups successful. Establish a detailed business plan, find a mentor, and read up on how to balance your books and generate revenue.
Your company might not bring in much cash, especially at first, but it will give you experience and put you within the startup community.
All it takes is for you to get noticed by the right company, and if they like what you're doing there's a good chance they may ask you to abandon your startup idea and bring your talents to theirs.
Do you have any advice for college grads looking to enter the startup sphere? Did you work at a startup fresh out of college? How did you get your job?