Portrait of young business man writing business plan against white backgroundI like Dan Schwabel and I like the Intuit social recruiting and career blog and I really like the recent blog post by Dan posted there called the 5 Requirements to Get a job in 2013. However, as I read through the list, I realized that these were requirements that came, by and large, from how one would present oneself to a corporate entity, or even a medium sized business. In fact, as I went further down the list, I realized that many of the qualities listed were the polar opposite of my favorite case study (ME) so I thought I’d riff on the article to come up with the five requirements one needs to work in a start-up, be an entrepreneur or consultant. Ready?

Dan Says: Become a specialist

Maren Says: Hone as many skills as possible. When you work in a startup or SMB culture, you need to know how the entire process fits together, so you can provide genuine additional value. A one-hit wonder doesn’t last long on a team of ten or twenty. Being a specialist is a great way to shine in a large pond, being useful in multiple areas definitely makes more sense in a startup.

Dan Says: Have a clearly defined brand

Maren Says: Nobody puts baby in a corner. If you paint yourself with the brush of specificity for too long, you become known for that and only that. I learned this last year when I became (briefly) the poster child for talent communities. People asked me to speak, but only about that. Companies were interested in theory but not in becoming a case study. I wrote articles that no one read because, frankly, I got tired of the concept after awhile (as did my readers). Now I write about what interests me or from a bird’s eye perspective and save the specifics for paying clients. However, I can say what I stand for in less than 13 seconds.

Dan Says: Show the ROI of hiring you

Maren Says: When you work for a startup, the ROI is often dependent on the unproven, which means that while you might be able to make a case that you can increase sales by XX%; what is the reality of you meeting that expectation? Instead, show that you have the best work ethic ever and that you’re willing to shift gears if something isn’t working. That is far more valuable than ROI, especially in a venture capital society. Save the ROI speeches for your clients/customers.

Dan Says: Accumulate endorsements and recommendations

Maren Says: Prove your work rocks. I think that endorsements on LinkedIn are great. I think recommendations are better. I think social proof trumps all three. If people can see that I know what I am doing, they are far more likely to hire me. This is akin to having a video reel if you’re a speaker. People can SEE you in action. I wish that endorsements were a little harder to give, I have several from people I have never met and my stream is full of them endorsing others. It’s a simple market economy and they are for sure over-saturating it. Recommendations are more valuable because they take time and effort to get. Also note that startups are by their nature focused on disruption. A bunch of LinkedIn accolades will impress them way less than a great Github presence.

Dan says:

Make finding a job your full-time job. You’re going to get out of your job search what you put in. If you put a lot of effort into finding a job, the probability you will get the job you want increases substantially. Spending time doesn’t mean just submitting your resume to every open position.

Maren says: yup!

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