By RiseHigh – a startup jobs platform for non-tech roles, including marketing, sales, and operations. Apply now at

While many students and graduates do not look past the big graduate schemes on offer from major international companies when considering their first job after university, there is a whole world of opportunities available in startups – many of which are arguably far more beneficial than traditional grad jobs.

Beginning your career in a startup is like supercharging your experience. You get handed far more responsibility far earlier than you would in a larger organisation; you develop much stronger commercial skills as you can see the immediate impact your work is having on the business; you can interact directly with the most senior staff in the company, not just your immediate manager; and if you join at the right time you might even get rewarded with a small piece of the company.

In this blog we’ll look at what skills startups are after, what sort of opportunities are available, and how you go about applying.


Startup skills

The overriding driver that most startups are looking for, whatever skills or specialisms you possess, is ‘action bias’.

‘Action bias’ is, essentially, a tendency towards getting things done rather than spending a long time planning or waiting for instructions. Startups are fast-paced environments whose growth relies on swift decision-making and learning from mistakes. As such, if you can demonstrate that you can work independently and get things done then you have a good basis for your startup application.

In addition, while startups won’t expect as much professional experience as their larger counterparts, it is important to demonstrate you have done aspects of the role you are applying for in some way. For example for marketing, you should be able to point to running social media accounts for an organisation (such as a university society) not just in a personal capacity. If you’re looking at business development, you should show that you have previously persuaded someone to do something (whether that’s join a university society or buy another pint when you worked in a bar!).



Like in any size business, startup jobs come in a broad range of areas, from sales to marketing to operations. And the great thing about startups is that no role is really off-limits for students and graduates.

If you’re a people person, you’re proactive, and you love working towards goals, look no further than sales or business development. EVERY startup is looking for good sales people and if you tick these boxes it’s a brilliant way to get in the door of any company. Some students are wary of sales, concerned that it involves non-stop cold calling and very public rebukes if you don’t hit targets. This might be the case in some old-school sales environments but in reality startups know that consultative selling (spending time learning what a client wants and understanding how to provide them with that) is a far more effective approach then banging the phone non-stop.

If you love social media, writing, and aren’t averse to having a look at some analytics, then a startup marketing job may be for you. One of the bedrocks of modern marketing is creating compelling content, whether in the form of blogs, ebooks, or just great tweets. Being able to analyse this (through tools such as Google Analytics), determine what works, and do more of this means you’re already winning startup marketing. So if you’ve previously run your own blog, or promoted an organisation of some description, this could be a great starting point.


How to find and apply

We would say this, but one great way to find startup jobs in London is RiseHigh. When you apply to our platform we learn a bit more about you then use intelligent matching to hook you up directly with roles and companies we think are a great fit. Very simple, very effective.

Another great route is to apply directly to companies. Startups like this as minimises their costs and usually demonstrates that you have an active interest in the company. But if you take this approach make sure you write a unique cover don’t just copy and paste a generic list of your skills and achievements: startups want people who buy into their raison d’etre not just people who are looking for any old job.

When writing your CV, make it an absolute maximum of two pages and ideally just one. Assume the people doing the hiring in startups are time-poor and won’t spend more than a minute (max) on your CV. If you had a minute to convey all the most important aspects of your skills and experience, what would you say? That’s what should go on your CV. Don’t include every single thing you think might be relevant – at best it will dilute your strongest facets and at worst it will mean the person reading will gloss over everything.

If you get to interview stage, do your research. This is true of every company you apply to but is particularly pertinent for startups. You should know what the company does inside-out and be fully armed with a number of questions about it. The more you know, the keener you are, the better your chances of getting the job.



Getting a job in a startup is a great way to start your career after university. You get more experience than you would in a traditional graduate scheme, you will likely learn faster, and you may not need quite as much experience to land a coveted role.

Remember to personalise each application, demonstrate your ‘action bias’ and relevant examples of your skills, and explain exactly why you want to work for the company in question. Do all this and you’ll be half way there. Good luck!


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Career Development Centre or the University of Westminster as a whole.

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