7 Strategies To Find Your Startup Dream Job
PLUS: Atlanta-specific job boards, events, and company lists
Thinking about making a move or looking for your next role?
Do friends want your advice on how to find startup jobs?
(Save yourself an email and share this post instead 😂)
I often get asked about “good companies” or “open positions” in the Atlanta tech scene or beyond.
There’s so many considerations:
Stage or size of company (Pre-Seed, Seed, Series A, Series B, Series C)
Distribution model (B2B, B2C, Marketplace)
Industries (Healthcare, MarTech, DeveloperTech, Supply Chain)
Product type (Hardware, Software, Consumer Products)
And that doesn’t even get into things like company culture, tech stack, and the current skill set of the team or department!
It can be overwhelming. (Or underwhelming if your scope is too narrow - ha!)
There are TONS of great companies looking for great folks — yes, even in “this market.”
Here are my best resources and insider advice for tech job hunters, especially in Atlanta.
Find that dream job. The next unicorn needs you!
1. Look For Companies That Recently Raised
Shoutout to the brilliant Erin Wilson for this one!
It’s going to sound painfully obvious but was not on my radar until Erin suggested it…
Search for companies that have recently raised money.
If a company has raised recently (e.g. within the last year), they are more likely to:
Be hiring for senior roles
Be open to an opportunistic hire (“we weren’t planning to hire for this role right now but you seem awesome so let’s do it.”)
Be successful, have good momentum, be doing something right (especially in “this market” where it’s harder to raise money)
You can search by industry, geography, or stage.
Company size and stage is key.
To some people, a “startup” is 200-500 employees. To others, it’s <20. That’s a wide range and requires very different searches.
If you’re looking for a CFO role, it’s not going to be at a pre-rev, 10 person startup.
But a Series A, B, or C company? They might be a great fit depending on your experience and their needs.
2. Check Out Niche Job Boards
The days of startup roles being posted on Craig’s List are long gone. 😂
Some startups will have recruiters, especially later stage ones or those with lots of capital.
If you want to get in early or you’re laser-focused on Atlanta startups, here are some great job boards to check out:
3. Flex Your Networking Muscle
We can’t not say it. Gotta get out there and meet some folks.
Humans, after all, are the driving force behind startups.
But it doesn’t have to suck!
4 Strategies + 13 Resources To Find Your Atlanta Tech Tribe (newsletters, virtual events, in-person options)
6 Simple Ways To Build a Relationship With a VC (or anyone really)
Need something even easier?
Try following some influential tech ATLiens to see who and what they’re talking about:
4. Work Backwards From Awards Lists
There’s two important types of awards:
Growth & Peer Regard
Start with the award winners, nominees, previous winners, and work backwards to see if:
You’d want to work for them
They have open roles
You know someone (or someone who knows someone) who works there
Wondering why that last one is so important?? 👇👇
5. Get A Warm Intro
Official definition (that I just made up) of a warm intro:
Find someone who works at the company that can pass your resume to HR.
Even better if you can ask a few questions or do an informational interview with them.
Why Warm Intros Matter So Much:
Employee Referrals: Employee referrals are often a great source of candidates since they’ve been pre-vetted as “nice and normal and smart enough to not embarrass me if I attach my name to their application.”
Skip The Line: Some companies will do a phone interview for any referral from an employee.
Get Eyeballs On Your Resume: At the very least, a recruiter will read your resume with the “benefit-of-the-doubt” lens.
Intelligence & Positivity: Startups often value smarts and attitude over experience (since everyone is figuring it out and it’s usually a new technology). Those are harder to vet on a resume but if you get to a phone interview, you can showcase those!
Referral Bonus: Employees often get a referral bonus if you get hired so the extra 5-30 minutes to talk to you or send over a resume is worth it to them.
Do you have to get a warm intro? No. Startups hire lots of great folks without a warm intro. But those candidates almost always have near-perfect experience.
For example, if you’re a liberal arts Spanish major who previously worked at a boarding school, it might be best to get a warm intro so you can explain how your fundraising experience applies to software…
Hypothetically speaking, of course…
That definitely wasn’t my true Pardot story. 😉
Need more info on how to get a warm intro if you’re new to the startup world? Reply to let me know if you’d like a follow up post on this or any other topic!
6. No Open Roles? Reach Out Anyway
The absolute BIGGEST MISTAKE people make with startups is assuming that the roles posted on the website are the only roles.
Here’s the thing:
Startups are busy and often behind!
Sometimes there’s internal discussions about hiring Role X but it’s not finalized or posted.
If your awesome self reaches out, with great experience in Role X, it sure does make it easy for that startup to say yes. At the very least, you’re top of the list when the role officially opens up!
Also, startups make opportunistic hires all the time.
Opportunistic hire = when you add role or even a department ahead of schedule because you met someone so amazing you couldn’t not hire them.
Great people are hard to find! Good companies will scoop up talent when they can. They may even create a new role or “find a spot” for you.
Now, I’m not saying this will happen all the time or even often.
But it will happen ZERO TIMES if you don’t reach out because there’s no “open role for you on the website.”
You can simply send an email/apply, introduce yourself, acknowledge that there’s no current roles that seem to be a fit, see if there’s anything coming open soon and/or that you’d love to stay in touch for future possibilities.
7. Stay Close To Your Favorites
Startups move fast.
Sometimes roles not on the radar last month are the #1 priority this month.
Someone on my team said she wanted to work overseas. This seemed very far off at the time for our 100 person, Atlanta-based company. Fast forward a year, we had been acquired by a F500 and she was heading to Europe to launch a team there!
Ways To Stay Close (After Your Warm Intro, Of Course):
Follow and support the company on social media
Sign up for the newsletter
Recommend them to potential customers (HUGE!)
Do some complimentary advising or mentoring (aka be helpful)
Say hi at events
Get to know a variety of people at the company
Your Dream Job Awaits
Finding an awesome tech job takes time.
With the right strategies and tools, you can shorten the search and focus on the best companies and roles for you!
How did you find your dream tech job?
What other resources or tips do you recommend?
Any other ATL tech influencers or job boards to include??