You’re an incredible asset to the startup you work for. You’ve done some extraordinary things and pushed yourself further than you ever thought possible – all while having a great time.
But you may be wondering what opportunities are available for those who have experience in startups. Surely, some of your friends and family members have questions too.
1) There comes a time in every job when it is time to move on. This could be because you are ready for a change or because the startup you work with has been acquired by another company. (Parent companies don’t always mesh well with startups, employee-wise.)
2) There are numerous signs that tell you it’s time to start looking for a new job. Perhaps you’re wanting more job security as you plan on starting a family. Maybe you want to work somewhere with set hours instead of a company where working 24/7 is the norm. It could be that you’re eager for an exciting change or challenge, ready to take on something new. Or maybe you’ve simply had enough and need a complete break from your current situation! Regardless of what inspires the decision, when it feels like it’s time, trust your gut and make a move.
So, what’s the game plan for moving forward? What types of companies look promising for your next venture? And how should you go about approaching them?
Here are some potential career paths you could take, depending on the work experience you have and where you see your future:
1) If you’re looking for a large company with a strong brand, consider applying to a Big Tech firm. These companies are highly coveted and the acceptance rate is very low. Many of them prefer candidates with technical backgrounds, even for positions that are not traditionally considered technical roles. However, don’t let that discourage you from applying. You can use your experience working at a startup as evidence of your ability to thrive in an innovative environment.
Depending on the culture, some Big Tech companies may see startup experience as invaluable. As an example, Facebook falls into this category. At a startup (particularly one in its earliest stages), everyone has to be able to do a bit of everything, but at larger tech firms it’s the specialists who really hold sway. So take some time to lay out your role and key accomplishments on paper, then target firms that place importance on that type of background. If you’ve been focused and aware of your career journey, this shouldn’t be difficult for you. However, if you haven’t been keeping track of your achievements or proactively seeking projects in line with your interests, it may be more challenging. You’ve probably accomplished a lot while at your startup company, but now it’s time to focus on the accomplishments that will make an impression on that outside of your company.
2) A later-staged startup is the perfect choice for someone who is looking for more adventure and responsibility. With a Series B startup, you will be able to specialize and still have a large impact. These startups are good ones to look at because they have proven to investors that a real business model exists. They are likely already raking in the cash and these companies are fast-growing. That means there will be lots of hiring and opportunities for growth. However, these companies won’t just take anyone with the right experience.
Startups during their series B phase will have to focus on culture fit a lot more than public tech companies when going through the hiring process. They want individuals who can start working immediately and trust that they won’t ruin the company culture, both of which can be difficult traits to find simultaneously.
If you’re ready to take a break from the startup world, use your newly formed “startup/tech” niche in other industries. You may discover that in industries not related to tech, your startup experience qualifies you as an authority on all things tech-related. Note that this is only an assumption, but if your goal is to be a “Digital Lead” in a non-tech industry, having prior startup experiences will assist you to reach that objective. If you’re used to working in a startup, be prepared for more bureaucratic processes and attitudes, rather than the “just do it” mentality. If what you really want are steadier hours, taking your tech niche into the corporate world may not be the worst way to transition out of startups. Of course, politics in an office environment come with that territory– along with slower timelines from ideation to launch date.
If you’re looking to change companies, be ready to explain why your experience at a startup is relevant. Your resume might not reflect it, but you know that the work you did at a startup is worth much more than what’s on paper. If your previous company wasn’t successful (or even if it was), Practice explaining how the skills you gained can be applied elsewhere. It’s important to tie everything back to how profitMargin-focused thinking benefited the business’ bottom line no matter which type of company interests you most.
If you’re thinking of abandoning your current startup to run your own, that my friend, is an entirely different story.
Welcome to life as a startup veteran!
What have you learned from working at a startup? Tell us in the comments!