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  • Business man making a presentation at office. Business executive delivering a presentation to his colleagues during meeting or in-house business training, explaining business plans to his employees.

8 Questions to ask before working at a startup

During the interview process, regardless of the size of the company, equipping yourself with as much background knowledge, questions about the role and how your goals mesh with the objectives of the company is the kind of artillery that mitigates setting yourself up for failure.

If you were going camping you wouldn’t just toss items in a bag haphazardly without looking down the line at what might protect you. You conduct research, read online reviews and consult experts at what are the best tools to keep you safe and well while battling the elements of the wilderness.

So if you’re interviewing for a role with a Fortune 500 company or a startup with some fresh VC money burning a hole in their pocket, executing your due diligence and coming in with pointed questions to ask will help flush out if this is truly the opportunity you want to take. The only difference with the latter in this scenario is that start-ups have an inherent risk paper clipped to the job title that suggests they still need to solidify their place in the market before they can sit back a bit.

Whether you’re a few hours away from stepping foot in an interview room or you’re waiting on a pending offer, ask yourself these 8 pointed questions to determine if a role at a startup is perfect for your next career chess move.

  1. Who is the CEO?

Startup CEO’s are relied to set a unified vision and culture, ensure the business has capital and is on good financial footing and can recruit top talent. And when the headcount is still down and the long-term vision is still being solidified, all eyes are on the CEO and what they can do.

TechCrunch published an article saying that “85% of startups fail, but if the CEO has built and sold a startup before, the odds go down 25%.”

So it’s a wise bet to start researching whom the CEO is, have they built anything and sold it before, and what is their professional pedigree? Check out the backgrounds of the management team for that matter – investors look at this, and so should you!

  1. Do they have good funding?

This question ranks up there with question #1, because if a company is not on a solid financial ground, then long-term planning is compromised for several short term trade-offs. It’s important to look beyond if they’re back by a venture capitalist firm. VC-backed money is quite common, especially in tech. Look at who is investing their money, who is on the board of directors and where they have previously invested there money – and how well has it done. This will help you paint a strong fiscal picture.

  1. What is the vision of the company?

It can be difficult to wake up everyday and drag yourself in to work for a company whose vision you’re not on board with. That’s why a lot of people escape the 9-5 grind.

At the end of the day, you need to answer the following questions.

  • Do you believe in the company’s vision?
  • Has the CEO fully communicated what the overall mission and long-term focus is?
  • Is this something you could get behind because it could benefits millions of people?
  • Could you use this product or service? Would you truthfully recommend it?
  • Do they have a proven customer base and have demonstrated revenues?
  1. What stage are they in? 

This is a no-brainer, but it’s important to understand where they are in their evolutionary startup lifespan. If they are an early stage company with no budget and no proven track record yet, the runway might be short. However, if they have reoccurring revenues and a customer base to build off you, you’ll be in the sweet spot to learn a lot as well as be a part of its scaling process – not to mention how it’s less risky by nature.

  1. Have they shown fast growth? 

This is where your external research will come in handy. Tech blogs, publications, and look at a list of fast growing companies will help supplement this area. You can even out right ask them what kinds of growth they’ve seen over the past while to determine if this is in an area that will allow some leeway for future growth.

“You need to know the industry well enough to see whether this startup is in a business that is likely to keep growing.”

  1. Who is their target demographic?

This is a crucial aspect that often gets overlooked. Startups have created a business plan that is focused at solving the pain points of a specific demographic or target audience. Ask yourself if this is something you can add value to, whether it be through experience or general interest.

  1. What is the path to profit? 

Will they IPO? What is the exit strategy? Obviously it won’t be easy to get this type of information from them in an interview, but if an offer has been made then it’s important to get a clear gauge on this. You can also get a clearer picture by figuring out their growth and what stage they’re in.

  1. What are the parameters of your role?

Folks with entrepreneurial experience are in greater demand as larger companies are always trying to embody this mindset on an enterprise wide scale. You may be wearing many different hats in a smaller environment, so it’s important to know what your core responsibilities are and if they fit into your career puzzle.

Try asking these three questions to help uncover what this role will be like in your overall career progression.

  • What would success in this job look like?
  • Where would it lead?
  • What will I need to demonstrate in order to get more responsibility?

With all that being said, do you see your personality meshing with this team and overall vision? Your deliverables will be magnified within the structure of a smaller workplace.

“So it’s important to consider, are you good at spotting opportunities and seizing the initiative to get things done?” Not everyone is comfortable with that, so be honest with yourself.” – Asim Razzaq, head of engineering, Axcient, formerly at eBay.

Our eBook is designed to help tech companies understand the value of the Product Management role – and how to bring on high-performing talent. Download our free eBook and learn how to invest in a Product Manager for the long-term.


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Master the Art of the Résumé

There comes a time in every professional’s career journey where it becomes apparent that a change is necessary. While shifting gears feels natural to some, many others haven’t switched jobs in years. Maybe you’re comfortable at your current longstanding position, but yearn to challenge yourself at a new company. If fear of entering the unknown waters of job hunting is holding you back from kicking your career into high gear, it’s time you took control of the sails and steered yourself in the necessary direction to achieve your wildest professional aspirations.

In order to get through the door at top companies, you must have a powerful résumé to highlight all of your accomplishments. Hiring managers at large corporations scan hundreds of résumés a day, and relying on the dated one you have stored on your computer somewhere simply wont cut it. So how exactly can you master the art of the résumé by writing one for yourself that acts as a magnet, pulling you towards new opportunities?

Craft a Powerful Opening Statement 

Online professional networks such as LinkedIn include a “summary” platform used for providing hiring managers with the readers digest highlight reel version of their résumés. While many opt to forgo using this feature for all it’s worth, its top-of-the-page prime location makes it the perfect place to include a powerful opening statement that touches on everything that employers need to know about you as a worker. However, LinkedIn isn’t the only résumé platform where you can include this striking feature – include the personal statement on your actual résumé too.

Focus on your Story

In order to effectively present your professional journey to date, compelling storytelling is crucial. It’s imperative that you construct your résumé so that it tells the linear story of your career. Within that, touch on your previous work experience, career-related challenges that you overcame, and what value you brought to your old company. Furthermore, many highly skilled résumé writers excellently display actual statistics of how their prior workplace efforts propelled their previous company to greatness. In doing so, they provide hiring managers with specific figures that show for themselves the quality of their skills, and thus simplify their eventual interview process.

Avoid these Common Mistakes 

In addition to spelling and grammatical errors, which you should scan for profusely, there are many other subtle mistakes that job seekers commonly make when writing their résumés, such as:

  • Unrelated work history: If you’re applying for a software engineer position at an elite tech company, it only seems obvious that you need not include information about your tenure working at a soft serve ice cream parlor. However, while this example may be extreme, to this day multitudes of job seekers choose to include unrelated work experience on their résumé. A general rule of thumb is to forgo mentioning any job that does not highlight your skills that could be harnessed in the position you are applying for.
  • Unrelated Private Information: If it is illegal for an employer to ask you about your relationship-status, age, sexual orientation, and religion, why include it on your résumé? Stick to your professional story, and save your personal one for those you come home to after work.
  • Social Media Links: Your new boss likely does not care to look at your Instagram feed, despite how professional you have crafted it to be. However, LinkedIn is the exception to this rule, as it is a widely respected networking platform.
  • Tacky Fonts: You want your résumé to be easy to read, right? Then avoid using elaborate font styles. While the business world is often innovative and fun, no hiring manager wants to try to decode the font on your résumé. Sticking to Times New Roman is your best bet.
  • References: It is simply a waste of résumé real estate to give a portion of space to the words “references available upon request.” If you are a legitimate candidate, your employer will likely deduce that you have the references to back up your claims and later ask for them if necessary.

Once you’ve constructed a quality résumé, you can begin making additional copies that cater specifically to the demands of the positions you are applying for. If you’re searching for inspiration, look online within your professional network to see how your colleagues are presenting themselves. Additionally, if you’re hoping to nail down a killer position quickly, great résumés work fantastic in conjunction with great recruiters. Contact us today to learn more about how our recruiters can help pave the way towards your next career destination.

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5 game-changing workplace trends you can’t afford to ignore

Wearable technology, the graduation of Gen Zs, and the rapidly increasing takeover by automation — these are just a few of the major forces changing today’s workplace. With each workplace change will come challenges and opportunities, and it’s the companies that realize the opportunities, and how to work towards those opportunities, that will rise above those that fail to keep their eye on the future.

While the future of work will undeniably look different in the next five years, there are a few game-changing workplace trends that companies can’t afford to ignore to stay ahead of the curve.

  1. The integration of wearable technology

With the wearable technology market on the rise, future-focused companies are looking for ways to incorporate wearables in the workplace. While Fitbit and Apple Watch are already being used to track productivity and wellness, over the next two years the tech sector will develop even more use cases for these devices. Wearables are a clear-cut way for companies to tap into work-life balance drivers, as well as employee efficiency. With the majority of your workforce already investing in wearable technology, finding a way to bridge the connection between work-life wearables could yield big results.

  1. Workplace flexibility

With connective technology and a rising cultural desire for more work-life balance, companies are now offering serious workplace flexibility commitments to their employees. Work from home arrangements, compressed time and shorter work days are becoming the norm, and with these changes companies are seeing enhanced productivity and bigger gains. North American companies are scrambling to understand Sweden’s new six-hour work-week, and major companies like Dell are setting goals to have over 50 percent of their workforce work remotely by 2020. Workplace flexibility is now a must if you’re looking to attract to talent, and it can also lead to productivity and efficiency gains if done right.

  1. Office space 2.0

It’s been over 100 years since the grey, small workspace, with a desk and chair for each employee was designed, and sadly we’ve barely evolved beyond that point – but thankfully that’s now changing. Companies are not only realizing the benefits of a functional, open and inspiring work-setting, but with more and more employees working from home, offices are beginning to evolve into spaces that provide diverse working experiences. With a remote workforce, the overall office footprint will decline, forcing companies to reimagine the workplace setting. In the next five years, the office space will become a decentralized space where employees can work in open spaces, isolation cubicles, or in a coffee lounge. The office space, along with workplace flexibility, will become key factors that top candidates will use to make job changing decisions.

  1. From automation to new tech talent

While 3D printers, drones and robotics are increasingly automating jobs and the workplace, with this new technology comes entirely new fields of technology-related roles. Research predicts that machines will be able to do half of the jobs out there within the next two decades, which means that new tech expertise is already being sought out by top tech companies. As automation gains momentum, it’s the job-seekers and companies that respond proactively to the technology of the future that will lead the pack.

  1. From careers to gigs and the sharing economy

The desire to have a “side-gig” and enter the freelance marketplace will continue to rise in 2017 – just look at the success of Uber and Airbnb: Uber has over 1 million drivers, and many of these drivers have multiple gigs, and it’s possible to run a six-figure business through Airbnb. While some companies might become nervous that more and more employees are looking to be their own boss, this is a whole new opportunity for companies to capitalize on hiring “on-demand” labour. Instead of building a business around permanent full-time employees who have ever changing workloads, smart companies are offering short contracts to top talent to fill a job only when the workload demands it.

The reality is that the future of work is here now. The momentum of these workplace game-changing forces is only picking up speed, which means that business leaders need to start discussing how they will respond and scale to these changes to ensure that they are building and attracting the talent they need for the future success of their business. Don’t fall behind the pack – start investing in the future of your workface today.

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