How to make a killer job application for startups?

Are you a developer with a bunch of experience and amazing projects, but you feel it is still hard to score a job in a startup? Sometimes, the fact how well you can communicate your potential can be the defining factor in your success in the job market. There are some aspects we correct time after time in our talent’s profiles. I have now gathered together the 12 most common tips we share with our candidates. Most of them are quite simple, but still, all of our applicants fail in at least one of them. Check out how you can easily improve your application!

  1. Summary: Tell us who you are. Think this part as a text that could work just on its own. After reading this, we should know who you are, what you have done and what you want to do in the future without even looking at your CV or LinkedIn. A great way is just to explain your educational background and work experiences shortly and describe what you are passionate profession-wise.
  2. Single proudest professional achievement: Sell it to us. Your achievement should be the coolest thing you’ve ever done. Show it! Don’t just make a list of many but tell in detail what you’ve done and what impact it has had. If you do it well, you won’t have space to cover multiple things. Select just one achievement and justify it well.
  3. Concentrate your application to a certain role. If you try to aim for every possible position in the market, you are not a good candidate for any one of them. Sure, there are no strict positions in startups, and the companies do appreciate all-rounded candidates, but most of them are looking for a person who can solve at least one of their problems, and you need to show which one. A good thing to remember is that for every business developer, front-end developer or marketing position, we have candidates whose profile is like tailored for that job. You need to make an application which can compete with those!
  4. Think what sets you apart from the other applicants. All of our applicants are amazing people: they are “good guys” and passionate self-developers with “active mindset”. So just describing yourself as one doesn’t really separate you from the others. Find your special strengths, concentrate your application on those and leave out vague descriptions that could fit any candidate. The more concrete examples of your skills you can give the better.
  5. A skill that everyone has is not a skill worth mentioning. Every single Finnish university students know how to use Microsoft Office. You won’t get a job because you have mastered Outlook so please leave it out.
  6. Only click the focuses and the roles you have specialized in. Clicking multiple ones does not increase the number of startups we will introduce to you – it will only make it hard to understand who you are. If you have selected more than six focuses or two roles you should think again and concentrate your real strengths.
  7. Don’t expect that we understand any name you drop. A startup founder in San Francisco does not know what Junction or Accenture case competition is. Do not just mention them but explain what they are. Instead of flying with their brand, it is much more important to tell what you did and what your roles were. This way the founders understand your achievement even if they are not familiar with the events.
  8. Check your grammar. Simple – but super important. Your English does not need to be perfect, but make sure that it does not include any easy-to-fix typos and grammar mistakes. They make you look lazy and arrogant – not the impression you want to leave. There are tons of tools on the internet which can help you out with this. Grammarly, for example, is a good one to try out.
  9. Use numbers. If possible, support your arguments with real numbers. It is the easiest and most efficient way to tell a recruiter how selective that competition you won was or the scale of responsibility you have taken on your last job.
  10. Startup experience is always a plus. Startups love people who already have some experience of working with startups. Whether you have been founding one, worked in one or volunteered in an event related to ones, bring it up.
  11. Update your LinkedIn profile. Your LinkedIn profile is much more important than your CV so make sure they are at least at the same level. We have written a blog post on how to make your LinkedIn profile stand out, and you can check it out here.
  12. Make your GitHub/portfolio demonstrate your skills well. Developers, add a link to your GitHub in the Portfolio part of the application so that it is easy to find. Make sure it is up to date and includes the best examples of what you can do. Also, remember to describe what you have done and how your projects work. If you are going for more front-end and UX/UI positions a portfolio is also a good idea to better show your abilities.

Have you already filled out your application but felt like you left space for improvement? Remember that you can always update your profile through the link we have sent to you!
 

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