As part of a series of articles, we will be sharing advice on how to make an impact when applying for jobs across different industry sectors. In this post, we will share Ben Prouty’s advice on how foreign-born professionals can grab the attention of employers at start-up companies.
Ben is Co-Founder and CEO of Shepper, a property management company. Prior to Shepper, Ben was part of the early teams at both Streetcar (now Zipcar) and LOVESPACE, the UK’s first storage by the box service.
If you are entering the job market or making a career change, startup businesses can be a great place to work. There are endless opportunities for learning and progression – giving you the ability to grow and succeed together with the company.
Cover letter is key
If used correctly, a cover letter gives you the chance to speak directly to how your skills and experience line up with the specific job you are pursuing. For Ben, a good cover letter is essential. In fact, many employers at start-ups place so much emphasis on the cover letter that they always read it before deciding whether or not to review a candidate’s CV! Given the importance of a cover letter, what are Ben’s top tips?
Use your cover letter to show that you have taken time to research the company. It is crucial to demonstrate that you understand what the company does, what its needs are and what value you can bring to the company.
Approach the company
Try to meet people from the industry you are interested in. Find a company you like on LinkedIn, contact the CEO and ask for 15 minutes of their time to find out more about the company and the industry. Employers at start-up companies, in particular, are very open to this approach. As a business owner, having to recruit people can be very time consuming and as such, if someone pro-actively approaches you for a role, wanting to learn more about your business, this makes a great first impression! Ben is evidence that this approach can work as in the last year alone he has hired 2 people who approached him in this way.
Experience is not a must
For Ben, industry experience is much less important than your personality, your hunger to succeed and your intelligence. Often with start-up companies, the types of products and services being created are things that haven’t been done before so no-one is an expert. It is about showing a willingness to get involved and adapt to different situations.
However, it is important to explain the drivers behind your decision to change sector. Ben explained that he likes to see some sort of signalling, something that suggests that the person is really keen on making a transition to a new industry. For example, a few weeks unpaid internship. Further, you have to be excited about the vision and mission of your chosen start-up. Tying back to the previous two tips, this requires you to thoroughly research the company and spend time speaking to people within the company.