How to Break Into the World’s Best Startups

Before I began working with Brazen Careerist, I had a general idea about what it would take to work at a startup but it wasn’t until I applied that I completely understood what it would take. From the interview process to the day-to-day operations, you have to be on your feet and ready to go if you want to work at a startup.

Here are a few things I learned about working at a startup:

A dry-and-cut resume will not get you too far. “The traditional job and career pointers you learned in college don’t all apply when looking to work for and with a startup,” says Grace Boyle, a Publisher Services Manager at Lijit. Get creative if you want to work at a startup, especially if it one with a strong Social Media presence.

Network, network, network. I know that I stress this in nearly every post, but it is absolutely essential. I wouldn’t even be writing this as a part of Team Brazen if I didn’t use my networking powers. James Ryan Moreau agrees. “None of my hires and contracts are through referrals,” says James. “I’ve never, ever gotten any kind of job by sending my resume through a website.”

One-size-fits-all. You must be ready to wear many hats when working at a startup. There is plenty of work to go around for everyone and you cannot become tethered to your title. As a part of the team, you have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone and take the bull by the horns. This means that you can’t go into work expecting a routine. If you are not flexible, you are not ready to be a part of a startup company.

You have to speak up. One thing that you cannot forget is that you have to be transparent and not be afraid to speak up. At a startup, an idea that may seem too small to you today may be a defining factor tomorrow so share with the class. On the flipside, keep an open mind to what others share with the class.

Your life will shape around your job. If you’re comfortable being a 9-to-5 worker, and don’t want that to change, you won’t get very far in a startup environment.

Experience will be your biggest reward. Let’s get real. If you’re getting your foot in the door at a startup, you aren’t doing it for the money. You’re doing it for something bigger. The experience, the chance to be a part of something as it gains its footing and to cultivate relationships. This doesn’t mean give away your hard work for free but don’t simply rely on the salary to define the fruits of your labor.

You think you got what it takes to be in a startup environment? If you’ve founded and/or worked at a startup, what would you add to the list?

Please share your experiences with us!

A fantastic startup company, LivingSocial, is hiring and they want to talk to you this week! They are looking for a Social Media Strategist in Washington, D.C. (March 9) as well as energetic individuals to join their Inside Sales Team in Washington, D.C. and Santa Monica, C.A. (March 10).


  1. As an entrepreneur I couldn’t agree more – great post!

    One additional suggestion is to get to know some recruiters in the startup space – you’ll see them post jobs for startups. They are sometimes the gateway to startups as the folks at the startup don’t have the time to manage the whole hiring process. So building a relationship or at very least becoming known to those individuals/entities is another avenue to pursue.

    Hope this helps.

  2. Ben

    Thanks for the post. I found it rather eye-opening and inspiring.

    I liked this point – “Your life will shape around your job.” …..I found that when I started trying to launch my own products and services. I become sooo engrossed in what I was doing, and so obsessed with my passion, that I found most other aspects of my life were either put on the back-burner, or at least left until the very last minute when I literally ‘had’ to do something. There were times I wouldn’t even do get round to the household chores (working over 14 hours a day) until I either had no clean clothes to wear, or not clean dishes to eat off.

    And, of course, “Network Network Network”. It truly is about the ‘people you know’. Things are so much harder when you don’t know anybody with any influence.


  3. some of these are well known ideas, but it’s not that easy to network, for example… I mean, you have to network with the right people, not with justin bieber fans:D and to get to the right people is the hardest part

  4. ted

    of course, “Network Network Network”. It truly is about the ‘people you know’. Things are so much harder when you don’t know anybody with any influence.

  5. Pingback: Hack your NCAA bracket, plus 10 job fair tips - Eye of the Intern

  6. Breaking into a start up business is great if that’s what you really want to do. But one must not overlook the other possibilities, such as building your own business. If you don’t know how, just look at all the successful entrepreneurs and follow in their footsteps. They have already paved the way by showing you what works and what doesn’t work. However, a career job with a good company offers stability and security that can’t be found working for yourself.

  7. Hello,

    My good friend Rick Nischalke at Master Plans turned me on to this Blog. Our Group will be spearheading a start-up when we finalize financing, and the plans are for launching in the Portland area. People in our group have been involved in start-ups and knowone has more Marketing Strategy experience than us.

    If you want to see what we are up to click on the link above, and stay tuned, we will be hiring in the Portland area eventually. Being new to the Blog I am not sure where everyone is located, but am looking forward to meeting some of you.

    Gratefully, Jeff Schneider (Contact Group) (Metal Tiger)

  8. First of all you have got to have connections to achieve something in this life. I don’t know a single man who made it without any help from “outside”. Whatever, little strokes fell great oaks.

  9. A point most people miss is the fact that job boards such as do not benefit from you finding a position. They benefit from you clicking on their paid ads, purchasing their resume services, etc. When you do find a position, they lose a customer. I also agree with Robert, if you can’t find a position, you can always try to follow your passion on your own, even on a small scale.

  10. I´ve been working on many startups, and one common factor at all these startups is that they all had a hard working entrepreneur in the top. All of them have been very focused on their product and working long days.

  11. Excellent advice. All the points are spot on. Networking is so important. It is not just about going to networking meetings. And it is not just who you know. What is equally important is who they know. Ask

  12. internet startups are amazing I will be launching my own in the short future the most important part is your commitment to pushing the brand while being supportive in the flexible requirements of an internet startup during its development

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