We have previously written about Ian Barnor's choice to found a startup here. Since then, others have joined RecruitSumo for many and varied reasons. In this post, I will talk about my choice to specifically pursue a career in a startup.
Wanting Something Different
When starting my job search, I initially went to job aggregate sites like indeed.com and entered some keywords I thought would result in some interesting opportunities. This obviously threw up a multitude of positions in companies of varying sizes. After applying for a couple of positions I was lucky enough to get some interviews at relatively large corporations.
There was something satisfying about being escorted through large lobbies, to conference rooms where I could sit and interview with a number of managers for a couple of hours, before being told exactly what offer was on the table (assuming things went well).
These always seemed like "safe" job opportunities. However, I quickly realized that I was missing something when interviewing at these places and I quickly identified this missing element...excitement. After interviewing at a few larger corporations, I knew largely what to expect.
- I would meet a couple of managers, no team members.
- The position would be well planned out.
- There would regularly be little emphasis on personal improvement.
- And they would typically offer only base benefits.
I decided I wanted something different, and for me, that was a position at a startup.
Interviews with a Difference
When interviewing at a startup I quickly realized things were significantly different from larger corporations. Initially, the interview process tends to be a little longer and there are generally interactions with far greater numbers of employees. When working in a startup there seems to be a far greater emphasis with creating a collaborative team atmosphere, therefore when interviewing for a position, you don't just meet the managers, but also the people you will actually be spending your days working with.
While there is obviously a reason for initiating the hiring process for a certain position, it seems that in the majority of cases, the actual definition of what that position will look like is a little more flexible. This is generally the result of more emphasis on hiring good people who can help the company, as opposed to looking for someone with a very specific profile fitting an equally specific desired narrow skill set. As the position at a startup can be somewhat less well defined, there also tends to be greater emphasis on personal improvement. This can coincide with individuals having far more ability to help direct the course of their own work along with that of the team/company.
As well as potentially offering a more interesting work environment, in my experience, the benefits packages can typically be a little more interesting. This might include things such as the ability to create a highly personalised workspace or more flexible working solutions including remote opportunities and time flexible positions. At startups, people get creative in order to entice people instead of relying on brand recognition.
Of course, there are drawbacks to the startup culture. I have been asked in interviews whether I am happy to work 7 days a week or at minimum 12 hour work days Monday to Friday with near 24/7 availability outside of office hours and have even been asked my plans for family life as if I were to take a position it would potentially be detrimental to starting a family.
Pursuing a career in a startup is clearly a personal choice. For me, I strongly believe this is the correct choice. I am more passionate about the positions, the mentality and the opportunities it affords for personal growth.
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