So you’ve been shortlisted for an interview at a young start-up company. You’re envisioning being part of a team that will create and build a new and successful business. You will get to develop new concepts, chase new markets, influence the company’s direction…so, so, sooooo exciting!!!!!

While start-up businesses are great at creating jobs, many fail. And quickly. Naturally there is a high degree of risk associated with job stability when taking on a role with a start-up. Candidates therefore need to be comfortable with uncertainty. This may suit the twenty-something single, but not the married, single income earning family with four mouths to feed. Yet despite the risk, maybe you are looking for a fresh challenge and this fits the bill. Get ready for the “What the hell are you doing?” questions that are coming your way, especially if your giving up a secure job with a well respected brand.

It is not easy to transition from a role with a highly reputable company, where your job role is secure through to retirement, for a position with an organisation that is just starting to find its feet in a dog eat dog corporate world. Many of us dream of being a part of something special and building a business from the ground up is one of those career aspirations that we find inspiring. But how will you convince the interviewer sitting across the table from you that you are their preferred candidate? Your job title demonstrates a position of leadership where you delegate responsibilities, you work within one specific department within the larger corporation and you’re attuned to delivering on structured objectives. Can you really handle rolling up the sleeves to take on the grunt work of several roles? Can you switch at a moment’s notice, abandoning one project for another? Are you savvy and innovative enough to get the results you need without all the required gadgets and resources on hand? And can you still manage to find your feet if it doesn’t work out?

Before you put up your hand for a job role within a start-up company, you need to have an honest conversation with yourself about your own capabilities. And I’m not referring to your skill set here, but rather your ability to fit within the very different work culture of a new business. As a professional recruiter I want to know that you are going to put aside your pride and arrogance for an environment defined by constant change and learning, where weaknesses will need to be acknowledged and not hidden. I want to know if you need constant direction and supervision or if you’re an entrepreneur at heart, self-driven and are keenly awaiting your opportunity to investigate interesting and innovative concepts. I want to know if you’re going to crumble under the pressure of ambiguity or seek out clear pathways to long term success with gusto. Proving your worth to a start-up company will require less of a presentation of your attributes and more of a demonstration of your attitude.

If a review of your resume demonstrates you are overqualified, or simply not a good fit, an overhaul of your working history is required. You need your job application to instantly convey that you want to be a part of a culture that is constantly evolving and that you have something of value to the hiring company that you can instantly bring to the table. You need to show your passion for the company’s mission. Make it known that you’re in for the long term and can perform multiple roles simultaneously. In fact, it is the exact challenge that you thrive upon because you are driven to push boundaries. To push yourself. Your personal projects prove your entrepreneurial spirit. You are not one to give up because you live by the motto, where there’s a will there’s way. Illustrate the events in your career that show you are a risk taker and that you are not afraid to fail. Nor succeed.

Working for a start-up company is not for everyone. Many people who are outstanding employees at established businesses can quickly fall flat on their face in a start-up atmosphere. Yet others find what they are truly capable of in a less regimented environment where they are encouraged to spread their wings. So before you apply for that newly created role in an exciting new venture that has your eyes lit up with inspiration, ask yourself if you are a risk taker in the boardroom, or on the bungee jumping bridge in Queenstown? What exactly are you willing to dive headfirst into when it comes to your career?

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