start-up skills

December 18, 2018, by Carla Froggatt

Start-Ups and SMEs: What Are Employers Looking For?

By Tara Sallis, TalentPool, matching recent graduates with job and internship opportunities at start-ups, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

If you are hoping to find your dream job at a start-up or smaller business, it can be hard to know exactly what they are looking for. Here we run through three of the top attributes that smaller companies are looking for in applicants, and give you tips on how to polish your application accordingly.

1. Cultural fit

A key thing on an employer’s mind as they look through your application is whether or not you fit in with their company’s culture. At smaller companies, tight-knit teams work together on the most important tasks in the business. If you won’t slot in well, they are unlikely to take you.

How can you prepare for this? Do your research. Have they referenced the company values on their website? Can you see what the office looks like on their social channels? Can you find people who work there on LinkedIn? It’s important to remember that it’s not about moulding yourself to their culture, it is more about seeing if the environment feels like the right fit for you. If it does – and your values align – this should come across naturally in your interview.

2. Innovative

Start-ups thrive because of good ideas, so if you want to join a small company, you are going to need to have some! This doesn’t mean trying to come up with a groundbreaking new product on day one. It simply means being willing to contribute when you are asked. Often everyone is involved in and responsible for the big decisions that will affect the future growth of the company, so be prepared to take part.

Before you apply, research their business and think about what you like and what you would change. For example, if you are going for a digital marketing role, look at their website or their social channels and review them. What ideas would you bring to the table if they hired you? These are common interview questions, so come armed with some thoughts.

3. A passion for the business

Smaller companies, particularly start-ups, are striving to realise their potential. You’re likely to be working closely with the founder, and they will have a strong vision for the future. It is vital to show your enthusiasm for their product or service, and the business as a whole. No founder or manager is going to be compelled to hire someone who doesn’t seem to care enough.

How can you demonstrate this? It comes back to research again. Make sure you understand the company ethos and have a clear idea of what they are trying to achieve. This will help you talk with genuine enthusiasm in your written application and at an interview.

If you’re interested in working for a start-up or a smaller business, you find lots of great opportunities on My Career. Log in here

Posted in Applying For JobsEmployer Insights