What Startups are Looking for in Your Resume

A resume’s main goal is to show all you’ve achieved in your past roles. But just as all jobs are not created equal, it only makes sense that a generic resume will not work for every position. Case in point? Startups. If you’re interested in getting into a company on the ground floor, the first step is to toss (almost) everything you think you know about resumes out the window. Read on for what to include instead to make startups stand up and take notice of you.

Things to include on Startup resumeFocus on results

Traditional resumes often have your previous job titles listed, as well as a list of responsibilities you had in that role. But startups care less about the duties you had and more about the results you created. How did your work contribute to the completion of a goal? If you can somehow manage to show these results via numbers (percentage of growth, number of new clients, etc.), even better. Startup owners want to know how you can help their company grow, so any tangible results you can provide helps them envision the goals you can help them reach.

Include links

If you have something visual to offer, make sure it’s on display. VisualCV recommends linking to a “portfolio page” for each company you’ve worked for in the past. This often leads to a potential employer clicking on the links, thus extending the amount of time they spend on your resume—which leaves you at the forefront of their minds.

Don’t just pitch yourself

We all want to leave the best impression possible via our resumes. But startups are often more open to those who come in not just marketing themselves, but marketing ideas. After heavily researching the startup, you’re interested in, brainstorm an idea or two you feel would be beneficial for the company. Mention that in your cover letter or resume, along with how it relates to the contributions you could make as an employee. This sets you apart from applicants who rely solely on past experience.

Take culture into consideration

Startups are often small and intimate, meaning that meshing well with the company culture is an important part of weeding out candidates. Business Insider suggests researching the business’s “corporate values” (which are often posted on their website) and incorporating those ideas into your resume. Demonstrating you’re a natural fit for the company, both skill-wise and socially, will boost your chances of being seen.

Include testimonials

This is where a professional social media presence can really come in handy. Scour your LinkedIn profile for positive colleague recommendations and include a few on your resume. If nothing else, it safeguards against potential employers thinking you might be exaggerating your qualifications. When other people who have worked with you professionally have positive things to say about you, it only adds to your credibility. And keep in mind that LinkedIn might not be the only place you want a professional social media presence. AngelList, for example, markets itself specifically as a “social network designed specifically for professionals looking to advance their careers in startup companies.” 

Demonstrate that can-do spirit

Startups are all about initiative. They rarely get off the ground when everyone involved thinks inside the box and follows the rules. Instead, provide specific examples of times when you branched off on your own. Did you ever take the initiative on a project, and it paid off? Did you ever launch your own project that ended successfully? Even those times when the results weren’t quite what you envisioned can be opportunities to discuss what you learned about the experience and about yourself.

Sure, it can be difficult to showcase your skills in a one-page document. But don’t despair! After all, every applicant faces the same challenges, and with a few tweaks here and there, your startup-ready resume is sure to go to the top of the pile.

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