The Pros & Cons of Startups

by Aparna Sreeraman on October 2, 2012

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Back in the late ‘90s, the IT landscape was shaped by the sudden rise and unforeseen success of small, Internet-based companies. Driven by venture capital investments and entrepreneurial spirit, the era gave rise to surging stock prices and iconic companies like Cisco and

As a Recruiting Director in the Silicon Valley who lived through the Dot-com era, I can’t help but notice a similar phenomena taking shape today. It seems that every day I come into the office, I hear about three new startups in the area. Like during the ‘90s, these companies are being funded by venture capitalists looking to develop new technologies, new products and, of course, new revenue streams.

But it takes more than money to become the next Amazon as opposed to the next – it takes top IT talent.

With so many companies competing for talent – and with new companies scouring the job market every day – a startup company may come looking for you. But do you know what you’ll find with a career at a startup company?

Working for a startup company is a unique experience that offers many benefits. However, there are some drawbacks that you should understand as well.

Here are some things to consider if you are interested in working for a startup company:

  • It’s all about multitasking:  At a startup company, you will more than likely be responsible for wearing many hats. You should be comfortable taking on multiple projects at the same time and prioritizing your workload.
  • Startups don’t want candidates who are comfortable:  If you’ve been with the same company for a decade, you may have a hard time attracting the attention of a startup company. It has been my experience that startups prefer to hire employees who have experience at other startups or to train entry-level candidates from top colleges and universities.
  • Autonomy instead of bureaucracy: At traditional companies, direction usually flows from the top down. Your projects, priorities and focus are typically dictated by your boss. However, at a startup, you often have to lead your own way, every day. There are pros and cons of both structures.  Be aware of the type of working environment in which you feel most comfortable.
  • You need to be on the cutting edge:  Startups want talent with the latest skills – mobile app development, cloud computing, HTML 5, etc. – and a demonstrated passion for those skills. If you want to attract a startup company, be sure to highlight your skills in your resume and show off your stuff in blogs, interactive portfolios and personal websites.
  • Work hard, play hard:  Startups generally embrace flexible work arrangements, including telecommuting, flexible shifts and shortened workweeks. However, they expect you to put in the time necessary to complete your work, no matter where you are working.
  • Risk versus reward:  By their very nature, startup companies are a gamble. If the company you work for does not catch on then it doesn’t matter how hard you work – they will go out of business and you could find yourself out of a job. When approached with an offer to work for a startup company, be sure to gauge the company’s long-term viability. If you can see their service or product taking off, then go for it – your career can take off with it!

Startups offer a unique opportunity to get in on the ground floor of something big. However, not everyone is cut out for a startup. A seasoned recruiter well versed in the world of IT should be able to help you determine if you have the right skills, and the right personality, to excel in a startup environment.  If it sounds like a good fit, there are great opportunities out there.

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