Sunday, August 31, 2014
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How to get a job at the next WhatsApp

Are you a go-getter who’s aching to be part of the next big thing?
Are you a go-getter who’s aching to be part of the next big thing? iStockphoto

The recent sale of messaging WhatsApp to Facebook in a staggering $19 billion deal has startups dreaming big again. Are you a go-getter who’s aching to be part of the next big thing? If you’re looking for a job at a hot startup, you’ll need these tips to get you there.

Be the Swiss Army Knife of Employees

Being ready for anything is good characteristic to have as an startup employee. “The people who thrive at startups are the ones who wear a million different hats, apply their skills to multiple roles, and are ready to GSD (get [stuff] done) every single day,” says Elias Torres, vice president of engineering at HubSpot.

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  • “Working at a startup is a juggling act, there’s never a shortage of things to do, so you need to prove that you can own projects and drive results without any handholding with a show-don’t tell-approach.”

    Get in on the Scene

    Immerse yourself in the startup world. “One of the first things you will want to do is to follow the startup community online,” says startup specialist Diane Eschenbach. “You can read blog posts about trends and who is doing what and what's coming next. You can follow Beta launches and mergers too. Follow industry leaders on Twitter and keep your eyes peeled to the funding phases of companies that have gotten some press.”

    Jason Schultz, an entrepreneur, angel investor and venture capitalist, agrees. “Think like an investor,” he says. “Find and follow the top angel investors and venture capitalists for the niche you're interested in and then perform your own due diligence on startups you come across to see if they might be worth investing your time and energy in.”

    WhatsApp’s main players got their starts in the tech world -- Brian Acton and Jan Koum are both former Yahoo! employees. When high-level employees leave a sure thing to start a new project, take note -- they may be on to something.

    Show Off Your Skills

    Russ D’Argento of Capital Hedge LLC says he often speaks with applicants who have all the qualities they’re seeking, but are unprepared for the interview. Get excited about the opportunities -- and show it, D’Argento says. “Come prepared with energy and enthusiasm,” he says. “When I end an interview, I want to say to myself: ‘that person is going to teach me something,’ not, ‘it's going to take a while to teach them what they need to know.’”

    Ensure that you have a “superior” online presence, says Erin Wasson, vice president of marketing at UrbanBound. “Most startups are tech driven, so whether you accomplish this through an online portfolio, a website, your cover letter, or social media outlets (especially important in Marketing), I want to be able to learn about who you are before I bring you in for an interview.” Simply put, Wasson says, “if I can't get a sense of who you are, you won't get a job.”

    If you make it to an interview, you need to be able to show what you can do for the startup, says Ari Isaacs, CEO of ShapeDo. “We are looking for exciting, brave, risk-taking people who are happy to go all-in,” Isaacs says. “In an interview, focus 90 percent on what you will do. Inspire me with your plans, ideas and enthusiasm; if I've opened a start-up, I'm an excitable person. Excite me.”

     


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    Catherine Conlan Monster Contributing Writer