Are you looking for banking or consulting exit opportunities? Have you ever wanted to work in a startup? As a banker or a consultant in the corporate world, the appeal of startup culture and the thrill of building something new may be calling to you – but how do you answer it? Use this practical advice to help you navigate the hiring field, and find yourself the startup job you’ve been looking for.
1. Figure out which type of startup you want to work at
- Actionable tips for bankers and consultants looking to exit to a startup – www.kandidate.com
Don’t just say you want to “transition into tech” or “work at a startup”. Identify the areas that interests you – it is SaaS, FinTech or IoT? Here’s a good way to get started if you’re not sure.
Narrowing it down to 3-5 verticals also allows you to read up on and follow the latest trends , as well as build your network in advance of the startup job hunt. You need to be able to properly articulate why your chosen industry interests you when you’re in the interview.
2. Figure out the roles you’re well suited for
When looking at your exit opportunities, once you’ve narrowed it down to what interests you, find out which roles you’re best suited for. Some popular roles bankers/consultants tend to go for are…
This is a mixture of sales, user acquisition, partnership, growth or market entry. Both client/ user facing and strategic.
This has nothing to do with ‘operations’ in investment banking terms. Operations roles are often not well defined, especially in earlier stage startups. It’s a mixture of everything, from Business Development to data analysis, building and optimising processes, finance, or even recruiting . Usually it has a strong focus on analytical and quantitative abilities. Go for OPS roles if you’re looking to start your own thing one day – you will get to gain the most rounded startup building experience.
There really aren’t that many pure strategy roles in startups. In fact, ‘strategy’ to some in the startup circle, is seen as a code word for people who don’t want to get their hands dirty. Strategic roles are mainly available in post Series C startups; those that are pre-IPO (think along the lines of Uber) or non-startups tech companies (e.g. Amazon) – simply because earlier stage startups need people who can both analyse and execute on that analysis.
3. Overcoming concern that you’re ‘too corporate’
- Actionable tips for bankers and consultants looking for exit opportunities at startups – www.kandidate.com
Primary concerns hiring managers have regrading people coming from a banking or consulting background is that they’re “too corporate”. Whether that’s fair or not, here are the common concerns and how you can overcome them when it’s time to exit:
Objection 1: They can’t deliver results with limited resources and support.
You need to demonstrate that you’ve “built something”. A good method would be to attend Startup Weekends, Hackathons, get involved with an early stage startup part-time, or even try building your own startup/small business. And don’t worry, it really doesn’t matter if the startup ends up failing; it’s the fact you’ve taken the initiative, and risks, to start something that counts… and gives you a serious advantage over others.
Tip: be sure to document what you did; perhaps build a basic site with projects you’ve worked on, or simply showcase it under your ‘Projects’ on LinkedIn. Add team members to show that the project is legitimate and actually happened.
Keep in mind an instance where you overcame a challenge with little support when walking into the interview – you can even preemptively mention this in your cover letter.
Objection 2: Lack understanding of basic startup KPIs, concepts and terminologies.
This is relatively easy to overcome; it’s just a matter of reading and learning. All the resources you need are available online. For example, if you’re applying to SaaS jobs, you should know what LTV and CAC stand for, and what a good churn rate is. Good starting points would be Paul Graham’s blog, Eric Reiss’ ‘The Lean Startup’, and Get Real.
Learning basic digital/growth marketing concepts will give you a competitive advantage. You should be familiar with concepts like content strategy, performance marketing and paid social. GrowthMarketers.org is a great starting points.
Objection 3: Transitioning into a startup for the wrong reasons, for example assuming that the workload will be lighter, or using the startup as a means to work at a VC.
Whilst you might not be doing 100hr weeks at startups, be prepared to do 60-70hr per week. Do not, under any circumstance, mention wanting “an easier job” as your reason to move to a startup – this is a giant red flag for hiring managers.
Similarly, startups need people who believe in their mission, and not use them as a stepping stone for a potential VC career.
But how do you demonstrate you’re genuinely passionate about startups? Well, it would help if you’ve met the interviewer/hiring manager at a startup event before. Even if you haven’t, it would be worth becoming familiar with the startup scene in your city – you may find exit opportunities find you before you find them. There are other small signals you can send out that you have a genuine interest in startups, by having an active profile on product hunt/angel.co/quora – and remember to include links on your CV/ LinkedIn.
If you’re looking to discover exit opportunities from investment banking or finance, and wish to get recommended for startup jobs suited to you, join Kandidate in only 5 minutes!