This is a guest post from Scott Hale. Scott blogs over at Highway to Hale, a blog about community building and creative problem solving. You can find Scott on Twitter @sjhalestorm and catch him as a Co-Moderator of the popular Twitter chat, #u30pro.
Alluring Possibilities in Muddy Waters
Let me start with my story. It’s no secret that my graduating class of 2009 was entering a piss-poor job market. After a summer of job searching, my refusal to send out a blanket of standard resumes was starting to pay off. I was seeing some interest.
One option was a startup agency. I hadn’t considered working for a startup straight out of college, but I came into contact with a new company that was looking to grow quickly. They were very honest that they wanted to make me their first hired employee and hit the ground running with some help from investors.
To make a long story short, the company offered me a salary and benefits and I accepted. But things are rarely set in stone with startup companies. After six months, full-time is a distant dream and benefits haven’t even entered the atmosphere of thought. In other words, they jumped the gun by making an offer.
Silver Lining in Stormy Clouds
I know it doesn’t sound like a dreamy situation, but there are some serious perks to working in a startup.
- Experience: Working with a startup is as close as it gets to a baptism by fire, because experience flies at you fast. I’ve been forced to learn new skills and broaden my professional repertoire (which is awesome). With so few people on a team, you aren’t likely to have an expert on every project. It’s an opportunity and a necessity to become an expert, or at least a jack-of-all-trades.
- You’re also going to need to dedicate a chunk of your personal time to learn these new skills that won’t be asked, but demanded of you.
- Networking: It takes some time for a startup to get some traction, and during that time, employees often have the opportunity to build their personal network and focus on their personal community. As personal brands for employees grow, the company’s visibility can tag along.
- Not to be a pessimist, but if the startup doesn’t work out, your personal network is a great way to get back into a heavy job search.
- Options: As noted above, I don’t always have a ton of work to do with the startup – My free time has allowed me to work with some incredible people in my industry. I’m like a Social Media Mercenary of sorts. I’m learning more than I could ask for and picking up some extra income at the same time (big thanks to everybody that has taken me in).
- Make sure you clear this up with your employers before you go out and get projects with outside employers.
A final note about startups as a thank you and shout-out to Rich for having me as a guest on COTJ: Hiring at a startup is unique. Without HR and recruiters involved, your network is more important than anywhere else. Creativity and connectivity are your ticket to trust and impressing the right people.
Startups aren’t the first places that come to mind during a job search, but they are definitely worth checking out. Just be careful and understand what you are getting into.