5 Deadly Sins You Should Never Commit at Startup Life.

1. Set your public Linkedin profile visible to NONE.

Linkedin is your online CV which is more transparent and can be used in far smarter way than the conventional pdf-based CV. Of course, you know all these. BUT! please set your ‘public’ profile visible to everyone. Otherwise, your well-groomed and shiny Linkedin profile can be viewed by only those connected with you already via Linkedin.

Here’s how you fix it.
Make it visible to everyone
You should NOT click ‘edit’. Click the little arrow pointing downwards on the right.
How to edit

2. Don’t specify company names in the application form.

Our job at Startup Life is to build a hassle-free bridge between you and awesome startups. Before we build a bridge, you should tell us where you like us to take you. Unless you specify one or more destinations (the names of startups), it’s hard for us to connect you with the best ones as fast as you want. Or it maybe even impossible in the end.

Name your startup

Truth to be told, we’ve seen many cases like this. If you’ve handed in the application form already, you can resubmit it again. You’ve done it already once, so you will be able to it much faster and better this time.

3. Write a 50-word pitch to fit everywhere.

50 words are quite limiting and this exists for a reason. As our chief Mikko always emphasizes, People in Silicon Valley won’t read your pdf CV or Linkedin profile. They will spend less than a minute to decide whether you’re worth knowing more in the startup’s hiring point of view. What they look for is at least one concrete reason to spend another 3-5 minutes looking through your Linkedin profile or an equivalent.

Remember a 50-word pitch is your very first contact with the potential employer in the particular startup. Sometimes entrepreneurs do not necessarily want to know if you’re a talented person. Rather, they want to draw a clear picture of how you could add value to the company. Have talents? Good. Don’t stop at that point. Connect your specific talents with the startups’ specific needs.

Try to include two following things

  1. why you’re attracted to THAT company or THAT job.
  2. how you can UNIQUELY contribute to the company. Small tip: Show some evidence of research on THAT company.

And exclude

  1. a super-honest reason which is technically irrelevant to the startup. (e.g. “California sunrise and weather were my dreams.)
  2. a one-size-fit-all message which is abstract and general. (e.g. “I am hard-working and passionate about startups.”)

Can you see the problems in these examples?
Generic pitch
Problem: doesn’t have company-specific messages. Also too abstract.

Same pitches to every
Problem: too general. It works for none.

4. Never learn about startups beyond their job descriptions.

There is no free lunch. Do your due research on the startups you applied for. By research, I mean collecting relevant information about a startup and essentially understanding what they do and what they need. This is preliminarily needed when you write a 50-word pitch, and most crucially when you do an interview. Remember when you get aboard, you won’t have an orientation session to walk you through obvious facts about the startup.

Yes, it takes time and honest efforts. Trust us. If you do this, you will thank us and yourself.

Here are some starting points.
Angellist & Crunchbase: Basic information about a startup.
Linkedin: Figure out whom you would work with
Twitter: build character.
Techcrunch: latest news. milestones of the past worth noting.

Let me show a way to hack your way towards a startup.
1. Get really basic info first. Learn about the company size, names of founders, and so on. Useful websites are Angellist & Crunchbase
angellist_profile

2. Pick either founders or 1-2 employees whom you can reasonably expect to work with (hiring managers).
team_angellist

3. Build a character of each. A good place is Twitter or their personal blogs. Take a moment to analyze how they write and what they write about. Imagine how you would talk and what you talk about first, if you meet them in person, based on all the inputs you’ve had so far.
digging_twitter

4. See if there’s any key info to spot.
important info

Incidentally Producteev is a solid and diverse team working to improve productivity of a large number of people and of course you can work here.

5. Be inactively shy

Being shy is okay. It’s a matter of character. But it shouldn’t stop you from communicating important details about you. We’ve met a number of developers who said they don’t have anything – or wouldn’t want – to show on Github. And then when we rephrase the question to ‘Could you show me anything you’ve done where the lines of code you’ve wrote were used. Well Hola, we were surprised to know that they have good things to show. We wouldn’t say those were the best pieces of work in the world, but it was just good enough to be evidence of ability to build things.

Also don’t be shy about using their products and providing feedback! Take notes of what you liked and hated about the product. Providing a logical and concrete feedback, ideally with some suggestions, about a product of a startup is one of the best ways to secure your place there.

About DH

Self-avowed Midwife @startupsauna & @aaltoes. Co-organizer @dayforfailure. Believer in resource productivity revolution. More on http://dhfromkorea.com

4 Responses to 5 Deadly Sins You Should Never Commit at Startup Life.

  1. Super outstanding stuff, good work DH!

  2. Mikko Ikola says:

    Amazing work DH!

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