No! No! It’s all wrong! That’s not how you apply for a job. Universities and colleges are way behind here. They want you to get recruited to large companies with prehistoric recruiting policies.

You don’t want to work in a cubicle farm. You’re young and exciting. You want to work for young, exciting companies. You want to work at a startup. Now, let’s see what you’ve been doing wrong and work on them.

Background Check

The ever-important mantra, “Do your homework” stands true here. Narrow down your interests, skills, goals and the companies you actually find interesting as you’ll end up spending quite a bit of time there, so find one that’s right for you. Create a LinkedIn or Glassdoor account.

Network, talk to people within the company and get as much information about the company and the position you are applying for. This will help you determine if the job is right for you.

You’re Either Different or Boring

Now that you’ve learnt about the companies, think of ways to impress them. Since each company is different, your applications will have to be too. Look at the values that the company is centred around and write a cover letter that appeal to them.

Be different, not boring. Don’t always play it safe, be adventurous. Most applications companies receive are a resume with a cover letter attached. Who made the rule saying yours has too? That’s right, no one. So surprise them with a poster, a song, a video, or something else tailor-made for them. You have about 15 seconds to get their attention. Make yourself stand out.


Ever Heard of GitHub?

GitHub is a web-based service for open-source software development projects. Team work is a key factor when working in a company. Working on GitHub projects shows your ability, enthusiasm and demonstrates your ability to work as a team as well.

Building a good portfolio takes time, but don’t worry. Even by creating a GitHub profile and adding even a single project will take you miles ahead of the competition.

OK! Done, What Next?

You’re still nowhere near that job you wanted. Next to come is the phone interview. The purpose of this is to at least know if you’re passionate and enthusiastic before meeting you face to face.

There is a fine balance of talking just enough and too much. If the interviewer goes off-topic, just follow the flow of the conversation. Ask questions only if it’s genuine, interesting, and worth asking. It’s not a deal-breaker.

Good job! They Actually Want to Meet You!

They want to see you. So, be you. Please, don’t practice in front of the mirror the night before. You’ll probably psych yourself out. You don’t need to reach half an hour early for the interview, 3-5 minutes is perfect. Always be passionate when you speak about your life and the things you’ve done. Be present in the interview, listen, ask questions and engage the interviewer.

And most importantly, don’t oversell yourself. Great, you have an 8.0 GPA and you’re on the Roll of Honour…no one cares. If you can’t be genuine, real, and comfortable in the conversation then you’re just wasting your (and their) time.

Wow, an Offer!

Congratulations, you’ve got that job you wanted! It is always a good idea to seal the job with a follow-up letter. If you are looking at other opportunities then keep the communication open. It’s fine to take a couple of days to think about it but, don’t leave anyone in the dark.

Oh no, a Rejection

If it comes to this, don’t get all negative. Taking the rejection is an important part of the process. If you followed all the steps in this process then there is nothing you could have done differently or nothing you could have done better…the company was looking for something different.

Take the rejection politely and wish them luck with the rest of the process. There is no reason to get furious and upset. You’re just doubly affirming the recruiters’ decision not to hire you. If the rejection is taken well there is always a possibility for reconsideration in the future. It is normal to be curious about why you weren’t chosen and it is okay to ask for feedback. Keep your chin up. Move forward.

Related read: Startup Guide: Things To Consider When Bringing On Early Team Members.

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