JOB SEARCH / FEB. 19, 2015
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Top 5 Most Important Traits Startups Look For in Graduates

Many graduates find the whole idea of working a 9-5 for the rest of their lives a bit boring. Also, with the job market showing modest signs of improvement, graduates see no point in waiting until they get a job, so they flirt with the idea of becoming their own boss or choose to work for an established or emerging startup.  A startup offers a range roles suited for graduates, ranging from assisting on projects, marketing and sales to web development and engineering.

So if you are a graduate who aspires to enter the world of startups, you should know that work life will look like a rollercoaster with long hours and challenges – but it will be a fun and unique experience.

Here are the most sought-after traits that startups look for in graduates:

#1 Sharp, Problem-solving Mind

The majority of problems that startups deal with have to do with new products or technical challenges that have not been solved before. Startups don’t really care what you currently know, but rather how sharp enough is your mind to come up with creative solutions to tackle the startup’s problems. Bear in mind that a creative idea could matter more than an optimal idea to a startup.

#2 Curiosity for Learning 

It makes sense to have limited experience as a graduate when you enter the job market. However, in the case of startups, your dedication and thirst for learning counts more than how much you currently know. One can gauge this quality by examining the candidate’s ability to quickly grasp new concepts, learn new software or programming languages. As a recent graduate, you need to show them how much you have exploited various learning resources and what new things you have learned at previous internships or jobs. Startups are passionate about people who not only learn new skills rapidly, but also show their skills in practice.

#3 Ability to Handle Uncertainty

John Allen Paulos, An American Professor of Mathematics once said ”Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security”. Startups feature a highly unstructured and dynamic environment without clear rewards or milestones. One needs to be prepared to go an up and down journey and deal with the craziness of work culture (e.g. having to work 60 hours per week especially in the early phase of startup launch). Demonstrate your ability to keep control of uncertainty, using your intuition to become an agent of positive change.

#4 Effective Communication and the Ability to Clearly Convey Ideas

Being able to communicate an idea concisely and to the point is a virtue when working for a startup. The extent to which you can effectively define a problem or articulate solutions to a technical problem without using jargon or getting caught up in the specifics is crucial in significantly enhancing execution speed.

#5 Commitment to the Team

In the highly demanding world of startups, there’s no room for those who love ‘hosting their own show’ without regarding their team members. If team working is not for you, then a startup job is not for you. You are expected to immerse yourself in a collaborative team spirit and commit to whatever duties or hours the startup team expects. You will have common goals to achieve, and this requires you to make sacrifices and put your personal commitments aside, for the sake of helping the startup grow.

Although you may not bring sufficient work experience to get your foot in the door of a startup, your passion for a particular mission, thirst for knowledge, and enthusiasm for bringing a positive change could be your competitive edge to break into the world of startups. Good Luck!

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