How to Optimize Your Résumé for StartupsBy Chris Muir
How do you write or rewrite your résumé if you want a job at a startup? Here are some tips to make your CV stand out to startup founders and increase your chances of getting the job.
Looking for a new job is a lot of work. You might be looking at half a dozen job boards, fielding connections from your network, working with a recruiter, and using a job marketplace like Underdog.io to put your résumé in front of hiring managers. At any given time, if you’re really looking, you might have dozens of conversations in flight. How can you organize your job search? We built an easy-to-use job application tracker you can use, but here’s the rationale behind it.
Startups are busy environments, and even though hiring may be mission-critical for early-stage companies, it’s just one of a wide variety of equally mission-critical tasks and challenges facing founders and hiring managers. It’s really easy for someone to drop the ball as new and pressing things to do keep pushing your last communication further and further down in their inbox. That’s why being proactive and following up is so important.
But it’s also common to apply to a large number of positions, especially if you’re actively searching. To make sure you stay on top of your follow-up, you’ll need to keep careful notes on when each interaction (email, call, or interview) took place, so you know when enough time has passed to reach back out and see how things are going. Most of the time, you’ll want to reach out if you haven’t heard from someone you’re already talking to in about a week, unless they specify a different time frame.
The other main benefit is to reduce the likelihood of duplicating your own effort. You may come across multiple roles from the same company, or the same role multiple times. If you’re not logging all the conversations you’ve had, you might even forget about one of them and apply again—not a good look. Keeping a record of every application you send makes it much easier to avoid mistakes.
Finally, tracking is key to understanding your job search performance (and for forecasting timelines). What roles are you getting the most interviews for? Where are the best places to look for jobs? How long should you expect a hiring process to take, and how many meetings or calls does it involve? To keep your expectations realistic and prioritize your search efforts according to their biggest impact, you’ll need to answer these questions—but you can’t if you don’t track the information in the first place.
For every application you send, you’ll probably want to track a few things to make sure you’re organized and on top of everything.
Company: you’ll likely need to refresh your memory of the company’s offerings and current situation whenever you’re about to go in or get on the phone, so make sure you write down the name.
Role: if you’re considering multiple kinds of positions, it’ll be helpful to remember which skillset you need to hire in any given conversation. In addition, tracking titles makes it easier to determine where your strongest appeal is—for example, if you’re a marketer, you may find that you get call backs more often for product marketing roles than for account-based marketing roles, even though you feel confident doing either job. Then you can focus your efforts where they’ll have the biggest impact.
Contact: you’ll always want to make sure you know who your point of contact is for any position.
Date sent: an important marker when calculating your job search timeline.
Last touch: to make sure you always know if it’s time to follow up, it’s critical to keep the last date you made contact up-to-date. Then, you can either add a week to this date or note the timeline your contact reported to generate a follow-up date.
In addition, you may want to track some of these other data points to derive information about your job search performance and understand your timeline.
Source: you might want to keep track of which channel clued you into the job opening. If you do, you may find that you have better success with postings on one board versus another—or that you’re underutilizing an available channel.
First response: keeping an eye on the length of time you typically wait to hear back from an application can help keep your expectations reasonable. Depending on channel, application volume, and the hiring manager’s priorities, this can be anywhere from minutes to weeks.
Number of meetings: in a similar spirit to tracking the length of the wait for a response, it can be helpful to know how far along in the process you are by collecting a general idea of the number of meetings before an offer in your industry, location, and seniority level.
Outcome: keeping track of job offers, as well as the conversations either you or the company didn’t pursue, can help you look back at your job hunt and score your effectiveness overall. It may also illustrate some trends in the kinds of roles or companies you were most interested in, and those that were most interested in you.
Outcome date: the last piece of the job hunt timeline is a final decision—offer or no offer. You’ll need this data to derive the length of time it takes for a conversation to close.
Notes: it’s highly advantageous to keep notes from every call or meeting you have, so you can quickly pick up the conversation at the next touchpoint.
To make your job search as easy as possible, we built a downloadable job application tracker that collects this information (aside from notes), calculates followup dates, and reports on your job hunt’s performance and timeline.
Feel free to make a copy, and let us know what you think! We’re always curious to hear how candidates track their job search—drop us a line if you’re willing to share your organization and tracking techniques.
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