Want a job but don’t necessarily have the skills or the connections?

Recently, I’ve been helping someone crack into the startup space. I love advising and mentoring because I often gain just as much from the process through vocalizing my experiences and reflections.

This particular person wasn’t sure how to get into the startup world. It seemed really foreign to her. She has a great resume, but she felt like she wasn’t sure how that translated to success in job hunting in the start up world.

If I had to sum up how to succeed in startup related anything into one word, it’d be hustle. Hustle implies being proactive, looking to win at all costs, never giving up on trying new ways of tackling problems and iterating on solutions.

What it translates to in the startup job world is never giving up. Job hunting in the corporate world means sending a resume and waiting. But that’s not hustling.

One of the best ways to get interviews is to actually target companies. Think of a list of startups that you want work for and go after it.

What if I don’t know what startups I want work for? Some people will get stumped and let that stop them. Hustlers will see that question and take it as a cue to do research.

But how do I do research? Some more people will get stumped and let that stop them. Hustlers will say well where can I get lists? There’s Google, there’s quora, there’s friends in the know.

They’ll do a google search for ‘consumer startups New York’ or ‘top startups NY’ or ‘data startups NY’, and they’ll search use whatever resource they can to generate leads.

I have the list, but most startups don’t have job openings. More people will drop out of the running. Hustlers won’t let that stop them. They know the worst that can happen is that they wasted their time, but it doesn’t hurt to ask, ever.

So they go on LinkedIn to see if people in their network work at those places or know people who work at those places.

It turns out they have some form of connection to many of the company. So they reach out to their directs contacts and personalize their messages for each contact. For 1st degree, they email them asking if there are opportunities. When the answer comes back no, they ask to speak for 10-15 minutes anyways just to keep the option open for the future. When they don’t get an answer, they follow up a second time, and a third time. They follow up enough time to get an answer.

For 2nd degree connections, the best hustlers ask for an intro and offer to write the blurb to make the referrer’s life easy and maximize the chance the referrer says yes.

For the companies where they don’t have any connections, the complacent normal job hunter shrug and give up. The true hustlers will think again and look for a way to cold call or cold email those companies.

Hustlers are goal oriented, as long as they believe in their goals, they’ll let nothing stop them from reaching it.

People working at large companies don’t have to hustle because many aspects of their life is taken care of. But people at startups have to hustle everyday because they are in a resource constrained environment.

Startups are full of hustlers. So if you want to get a job at a startup, you have to be a hustler too. The biggest challenge from someone transitioning from corporate to startups is that mindset change. Startups isn’t just about visions and changing the world. That’s the end goal, but the path to get there is full of hurdles, roadblocks, and challenges. If you want to join a startup, then you have to get over the first challenge, the hurdle inside of your head.


Be proactive. Do the research yourself, identify places you’d like to work, ask people for intro, even offer to write out the intro, so that people don’t have to think. Follow up (again and again) if there’s no response. Don’t take no for an answer. Hustle.

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