Hoping to land a high-paying gig at a hot new startup? Before you apply, be sure you’re ready for the challenges of working in a startup environment, where your job — and the culture — is vastly different than your typical 9-to-5 career.
Today’s hot new technology companies have a different style and culture than what some might be used to in a corporate setting.
Expectations for employees are vastly different, both in what you do and how you do it. Startups are less encumbered by red tape and administrative process. Getting things done can be quicker, but sometimes much more challenging due to the lack of infrastructure.
As a founding member of a startup, my daily work experience is drastically different when considering the amount of responsibility I take on and the type of work I do. This can be both highly stressful and highly rewarding.
Here are five things you should know about startups if you’re hoping to work at one: (Click here to tweet this list.)
1. You’ll wear many hats
Knowing your role and day-to-day responsibilities at a startup isn’t as simple as looking at your job title or description. Expect to work on projects that push you out of your comfort zone. If you’re hired to do marketing, you’ll probably be doing a bit of work in sales, too.
The team is often too small to afford proper delegation by skill and occupation, so be ready to learn new skills on the fly if you want to succeed. A degree of fearlessness to dive into new projects and unknown challenges will serve you well in the startup environment.
2. You’ll be a utility player
Almost every job description requires you to be a great team player to succeed… but that’s usually restricted to your own team.
At a startup, you’ll have more insight into the everyday operations and success of the entire company than elsewhere. With that comes the expectation that you act as a support structure for all of your co-workers and never shy away from tasks like coffee runs when things are hectic (no matter how much you’re getting paid). You can expect the same from your colleagues at a startup when you’re hitting a deadline.
3. The organizational chart may seem backward
Hierarchies at a startup can be confusing to folks used to seniority in charge. Age makes no difference when it comes to promotions or leadership at a startup. You’ll be judged on your contributions and efforts to the team, not on tenure.
This is why you may find yourself working for a manager who is a decade younger and less experienced than yourself. Before you judge them, remember: they got there by merits of hard work and dedication, and if you show the same effort, you will be recognized for it, too.
4. You have to keep up with the tools
At a startup, you always need to be up to date on the latest technology in your field, as startups love to use the newest and shiniest piece of technology over the old mainstay. Sometimes your tools may change on the fly, and this may disrupt your work flow.
Following tech recommendation sites such as Product Hunt or field-specific communities like Growth Hackers and Stack Exchange will help you keep up to date on the newest technology trends so that you’ll be ready for any inevitable change.
5. A startup is always high-anxiety
Startups are often not for the faint of heart, the 9-to-5ers or those who can’t handle stress and anxiety on the job. When you’re a small team sprinting towards a big goal, you’ll feel the pressure of being overworked and understaffed. You’ll always be aware of an overarching goal for the company, whether that’s raising another round of venture funding, beating down new competitors or trying to unseat a monopolistic company. If you can’t handle this kind of pressure, a startup is not for you.
The great thing about working at a startup is that you’ll quickly feel like you’re part of a family, and you’ll face the highs and lows of startup life with like-minded others. But for this reason, cultural misfit is a mistake both you and the startup can’t afford to make, so do your research on the company before you hit “apply.”
Stefan Mancevski is a co-founder at JobHero, a free web & mobile job search dashboard for job seekers to organize, optimize, and upgrade their job search. Check out the dashboard and more great job search advice at https://gojobhero.com, and follow Stefan on Twitter at @smancevski and JobHero at @gojobhero.