How I landed my first graduate job at a startup

How I landed my first graduate job at a startup

If you're a recent grad looking for a job at a tech startup, follow my five tips for success. They worked for me – and they could work for you too. Let's find out more.

Jamie Nascimento
October 21, 2021
min read

If you're reading this article, you're probably a recent grad or a student looking for your first tech startup job after graduation. This time last year, I was in your shoes – piles of cover letters and application forms, interviews and assessment centres (online because of the pandemic), all that rejection.

But eventually, I landed my perfect role at LemonEdge. Now, here are five top tips you can follow to land your dream startup position.

1 – Harness the power of LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the most powerful networking tool in the world – and it's free! While you're searching for a job at home, make sure your profile shows you in the best light. Then, take the opportunity to connect or reconnect with everyone you know. Find out what they're up to and let them know you're looking for work. You never know what will come up. When you meet new contacts on your job hunt, connect with them on LinkedIn too.

LinkedIn was essential in me landing my role at LemonEdge. I saw the job advertised there and immediately knew it was the opportunity I had been waiting for, for seven months. Before I applied, I researched the business and reached out to one of their advisors for a Zoom chat. During that meeting, I was able to convey why I thought I was the perfect fit for the role. The advisor passed my CV on to LemonEdge, and they offered me an interview.

LemonEdge was impressed that I took the initiative, and it became a differentiating factor between the other candidates and me. It showed me as the self-starter they were looking for.

2 – Master remote interviews and take the initiative

Since the pandemic, most companies have moved their recruitment online. As a result, interviews over the phone or video are now the norm. The secret to success is to treat a remote interview as if it was a face-to-face meeting. Here are some tips:

  • Practise being interviewed on camera, so you'll feel comfortable when you do it for the first time.
  • Write a list of potential interview questions to have a better idea of what you'll be asked.
  • Know the etiquette – dress well, arrive five minutes early
  • Avoid technical issues – check your camera and audio settings before your meeting, make sure you have a clean, uncluttered background.

Finally, take the initiative. When I was trying to land the role at LemonEdge, the final interview stage was a case study round. I had to create the most efficient sales and marketing strategy based on the data in the case study and a set budget. However, I noticed that the case study had some pricing information missing. So instead of assuming numbers for my projections, I reached out to the supplier to ask for a quote. LemonEdge were impressed that I had taken control of the situation.

Don't be afraid to go above and beyond. Take that leap, even if you're not sure the answer will be correct.

3 – Research the business and create bespoke CVs and cover letters

Your CV and cover letter is there to make you stand out from the crowd and land that first interview. You're never going to achieve this with a copy and paste job.

Now that you know what you want and aren't applying to just any role, take the time to create a personalised CV and cover letter for each application. Read the job description carefully, identify what skills the company is looking for and demonstrate that you fit the bill.

Employers notice when you send a targeted, tailored application rather than the same thing you send everybody else. It helps set you apart from the competition.

Research the job description and the business thoroughly before you make your application. Talk to someone from the team; try to understand what they are looking for and if you can bring that to the table. Use your CV and cover letter to highlight the skills you have which match the job description. Then, take that leap and reach out to people from the company. What's the worst that can happen? You won't get a response. That's it.

Remember, you have nothing to lose—only new things to learn.

4 – Have a plan

Rather than fire applications for all sorts of jobs across vastly different industries, which drastically reduces your chances of success, act with precision. Decide what is it that you actually want, then make a plan to achieve it.

An excellent place to start is to sit down, look at your education and work experience (if you have any) and write down your top three skills. This will help you understand your strengths and direct you towards suitable roles in the best industry for you. Once you figure out what you want, you'll feel more in control, and it will reflect in your job applications.

For some extra help at this stage, Prospects Planner and jobmi can help you discover the right direction for your career.

5 – Stay positive

Looking for your first job isn't much fun. Chances are you'll face a lot of rejection (that is if you get a reply at all!), but you can't let it hold you back.

Be resilient. Try to turn every negative into a positive. Get as much feedback as you can and use it to improve next time around.

It's a challenge, but try to change your perspective and choose hope over fear. Please don't settle for a job you don't want because it's all that's on offer. Instead, stay focused and channel all your energy towards discovering the job that's meant for you.

Good luck!

There's no one way to land a job at a tech startup, but follow these tips, and you're more likely to get noticed by potential employers. So don't be afraid, shoot your shot, go out there and get what you want.