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5 Ways to Land a Job at a Boston Start-up

Posted by Alex Pearlman  September 9, 2011 08:40 AM

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5286510007_53bb967642.jpgThe start-up ecosystem in Boston is booming and expanding as we speak, and you can find a job here if you think outside the box. While there’s no exact formula for success, here are some tips to help you get your foot in the door and maybe even land you your dream job.

Prove You are a Go-Getter. Show that you know how to do something well and are willing to do whatever is needed for a position.

“We look for people who know their skills cold so they can do their thing,” Jennifer Fremont-Smith, CEO of Smarterer, said. “Once we’ve validated that the person has the necessary hard skills, we can focus in on whether they are adaptable, flexible, whether they are intense enough to work in this environment, and, of course, whether they are nice people we want to work with.”

Show Passion. Love marketing? Show it by using social media to brand yourself well online. Enjoy writing? Create your own blog to demonstrate your ideas. Whatever your passion, show it publicly.

Sarah Hodges, Director of Online Marketing at Runkeeper, said that when they're looking at a candidate, they search for “passionate individuals with a shared commitment to achieving Runkeeper’s vision for the future.” They need people who both love what they do to the core and believe 100% that the product will succeed.

Be a Self-Starter. If you are looking to get in on the ground level of an exciting but small start-up, you need to prove you can do things on your own with little to no guidance at first. Entrepreneurs pour their hearts into their companies and love to hire others that demonstrate the same motivation.

At Runkeeper, like many other start-ups, they look for “entrepreneurs and self-starters with the capacity to identify an opportunity to see it through,” Hodges said.

Network (Online and Off). Here's a three-part tip: First, if you want to learn more about the start-up ecosystem, check out sites like Greenhorn Connect, VentureFizz, Boston Startup Digest, and Boston TweetUp, which post weekly networking events.

Then, augment your in-person meetings with social media. Get your name out there, talk about your expertise, and meet and be seen by people and companies looking for unique talent. From Gemvara and Backupify to SCVNGR and WHERE, start-ups have a strong social media presence, using their profiles to make connections with the local community, find great talent, and share their knowledge with others.

And get to know the leaders in the industry; they can be your go-to sources for recruiting advice.

"The more [leaders] that know about our efforts and think highly of what we are doing, the easier it will be to establish credibility once we identify the person we ultimately want to hire," said Runkeeper CEO Jason Jacobs.

Play Up Your Strengths. Start-ups admire hard work and passion. Understanding your strengths and demonstrating them through your own work and the way you talk will go miles towards getting the right kind of attention. Simply put, if someone within the company admires your skills and work ethic, they will recognize your worth and are more likely to create a position just for you.

“While we [may not] have an open position that is squarely a fit, our best hires tend to come in that way and we craft a position,” said Jason Henrichs, COO of PerkStreet.

Gotten a job with a local start-up? How'd you do it? For the start-ups reading, what do you look for when hiring a new employee?

Photo by Sanjay Parekh (Flickr)

By Kristin Dziadul -- Kristin Dziadul began her career by blogging about marketing, start-ups, and technology and developing her personal online brand. She became very involved in the Boston start-up and technology culture and was soon hired as the Marketing Analyst for Backupify, a Cambridge-based start-up company focused on online cloud-to-cloud social media and SaaS backup. She blogs on her own site and also writes weekly for BostInnovation.

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