How To Land Your Startup Dream Job

January 09, 2018 | Thought Pieces

How To Land Your Startup Dream Job

2017 has come to an end, whether we like it or not. And like the years before this one, we are seeing an increase in applicants– a trend that we’re expecting until end of February. It is not always easy to apply to a job, especially if you are applying to be in a company that already has a particular set of screens that is a bit unusual.

Do read on if you are:

1) Aiming to shift from a corporate role to a startup one,
2) Interested in how you can be better in your next startup interviews, or
3) One of the many aspiring STORMers

A lot has changed in the past years! I know because I was a recruiter for the same startup back then — and now that I have been reinstated as the People Operations Head after a long rotational Tour Of Duty, I found that the game has changed big time! My old tricks just aren’t cutting it anymore. Here’s what works now:

1. Recruitment is Selling

From being job hunters, candidates are now the ones being hunted. With this talent market shift, recruiters are expected to woo the potential candidates to actually apply for the job. So we end up with selling the opportunity to work with our firm. This year we took Employer Branding very seriously. It took a long while but we did reap its rewards. At the start of the year, only 9% of our active applicants came from online channels (applicants who respond to LinkedIn InMails, LinkedIn Posts, Kalibrr, and Facebook Ads.Towards the end of this year, we get 23% of active applicants from online channels!

See related: HR in the digital age: How to attract the best talent and help your employees grow

2. Culture over Skill- any day

STORM has a 4-step interview process. The first interview is conducted by the Hiring Manager. It is a technical interview and usually involves an audition or a technical test. This is the step wherein we’ll know if the candidate can get the job done. The second interview is conducted by a People Operations Officer. This is a culture screen interview wherein we ask behavioural questions to see if the candidate will fit in with STORM’s culture. The third interview step is a culture validation screen- composed of 3 panel interviewers from different teams. And the last interview step is the Founder’s Interview which is a fairly short mission alignment interview.

STORM Application Process

Did you notice anything about our recruitment process?

Yes, it is a long recruitment journey. And yes, we have 3 out of 4 culture screens. Why? Because Culture Fit trumps Skills Fit any day in STORM. I could tell you horror stories of how just one person can ruin the team dynamics (and, ultimately, work productivity) only because we hired them out of skills fit and overlooked culture, but I still have 3 more insights to share so perhaps we can discuss this later on in the comments section.

3. Your employees are not only ambassadors- they’re recruiters too.

We already know that when we take care of our employees, our employees will take care of our customers for us. But did you know that your employees can be the greatest source of talents, too? This year, over 80% of our successful hires came from the Referral Program. If your company culture is strong enough, you will find yourself in the midst of a group of recruiters. Employees who are generally satisfied about their work will tell their friends about it- unprompted even! Heck, employees will even post about their day-to-day experiences in the office unsolicited if they are happy enough. Some might even start a hashtag out of it!

If you want, go check out #STORMlife on Facebook so you can see what it’s like for us.

4. If you can’t hire them, hire their friends.

For my fellow recruiters out there, I know you know how much it hurts when a great candidate ends up saying no to our job offer. But hey, candidates tell their friends about their recruitment experiences. And if you believe in the famous idiom “birds of a feather flock together”, then you’d find that your job candidates can be indirect recruiters for your firm too! If they like their recruitment experience with you enough, you can go after their friends instead. Trust me, it will be much easier to sell the opportunity to them. And maybe, the candidate who said no to you will soon see how wrong he is after his friends tell him about how great it is working with your startup.

See Related: Applying for a Job at a Start-up? Remember these 3 Things

5. Give credit to your gut feel.

Good credentials, work experience fit, and interviews went smoothly, but somehow you feel uneasy about this candidate still. I say trust your gut. Especially when you have been recruiting for a while already, your intuition becomes more credible. So when you get a hunch about a candidate, take note of it. Don’t dismiss them right away! Instead, ask about them- from common friends perhaps- or dig deep in their social media presence. Or course we all have to do a background check on a candidate by asking their former bosses and colleagues about their work, but people can reveal more of themselves with friends and on Facebook. One thing I practice is that even before I get to meet a candidate, I already look them up on Google. It helps me with getting to know the candidate beyond the resume they’ve sent and with something as simple as knowing how to small talk with them before the interview.

(Article originally published in e27.co)

If you’re interested in applying for STORM, do check out our openings

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Angeli Recella is the Head of People Operations at STORM Technologies, the largest flexible benefits and employee incentives firm in the Philippines. She is passionate about startups, travel, books, tech, TV, and psychology.


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