Startup hiring – A candidate’s perspective


While watching this video on YourStory, it struck me how the word ‘challenge’ is often used in conjunction with hiring for startups. There are hundreds of articles, videos, blogs describing challenges of finding right skills, attitude etc. As a startup enthusiast, I actively look and apply for opportunities which fit my interests and skills but I haven’t been lucky to get a reply.

Six out of last 10 sent items in my Gmail are job applications to different startups.  After being part of the corporate world for more than six years, I am sensible enough to understand that there is no benefit in spamming the recruiter. Therefore, I carefully craft a cover letter on how I fit the criteria mentioned in the job description, few words about my interest in working for the company along with a professional summary. I draft this letter after diligently evaluating both internal factors and external factors like career growth, suitability for the role etc. Some of these openings are advertised on job boards like YourStory, others I scout through Careers section of their website. With these details, I am reiterating the fact that I don’t apply to these openings in a spree; there is a meticulous planning process behind each application. I do not hope for a positive response for all applications, but lackadaisical attitude by some companies has left me perplexed.

It is amusing that people who are trying to hire and people who are trying to get hired both face challenges, irrespective of presence of numerous job boards. I think if companies focused on following three aspects they may be able to solve of these challenges both for themselves and for the candidates:

  1. Careers section: If companies have a ‘Work With Us’ section, they should make sure it is used. Especially, if they mention generic openings like ‘Startup Ninja’ or ‘Startup Enthusiast’. A lot of candidates like me read about the company on YourStory and look for ways to form association. The easiest way for us to reach out to a company is through the careers section. But, I have rarely noticed any response (whether negative or positive). Once, I got a reply from a company six months after applying through their careers section. It did not set the best of the impressions about the company and I decided not to pursue it. I understand that not all applications are worth the effort, but a candidate reaching out to the company herself is a good criterion to evaluate her as a future employee of the company.
  2. Relevant experience: I get flummoxed when I read ‘relevant experience’ in a job description. For me, startups are places to explore, unlearn and learn. They offer opportunities to pivot careers and are more about what one can do, rather than what she has done already. Of course, lot of it depends on the role, company’s lifecycle stage etc. but sticking to norms, in my opinion, is not startup DNA. So, a little flexibility in relevant experience may help in increasing the pool of eligible candidates.
  3. Courtesy mail: We all know that startups are pressed for time. There are multiple things to do with only few hands to spare, so it is understandable if there is no immediate reply. But when a conversation is initiated with a candidate, it is only fair that it should be taken to closure. If there are delays or if the position is no longer available, it would be nice to send a note to the candidate apprising her of the situation. An interested candidate will certainly send a reminder and that could be used as an opportunity to update her. Otherwise, it just sets an impression of unprofessionalism. I can think of at least three instances from the top of my head where the recruiter never got back after the initial mail. Following up for months did not yield any results either. Now, whenever I see an opening in any of those companies, I choose not to apply.

My motivation to apply to a startup is the experience I would garner there and I know I am not alone in this quest. If companies pay a little more attention to their mailboxes, I am sure some of their hiring challenges would be solved.


About the author

Charu Babbar is a Marketing Professional with a keen interest in entrepreneurship. You can reach her on @charubabbar.


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