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From One 'Ex-Job Seeker' To Another🙋🏽♀️
Sharing our bit of learning and suggestions for everyone who seeks to work with a growth stage company.
Increase in team size ≠ Business growth
It’s a common tendency to evaluate a startup’s success based on its team headcount. As a recommendation from most VCs and growth stage startup founders, here are a few critical parameters that can help you in more ways to build your own yardstick.
Funding stage - Most startups that touch the Series A mark, are validated by the fact that they know what they’re doing and the product market fit is visible. The portfolio of investors is another feather to the hat.
Customers - The relevance of this parameter varies based on the nature of the business. In a B2C setup, the adoption rate among users is a breaking point. However, if you’re evaluating a B2B SaaS product, the scale and quality of enterprise customers is an indicator of growth.
Cash runway - A runway of 12-15 months is a solid benchmark to evaluate the sustainability. In exceptional cases, a 2 year period is also a good indicator.
Team culture - A candid chat with a founding member/s or ex-team members can help in collecting varied viewpoints about work-life balance, internal growth opportunities, knowledge sharing, collaboration practices, etc.
Matt Mochary in his book “The Great CEO Within” shares that, a lot of startups resort to scaling the team too soon, even before they haven’t found a PMF (Product Market Fit) yet. As outsiders, people often weigh a startup's success against its headcount. In the early stages, it is a recommended to be frugal while hiring. Build the team with folks who are ready to hustle with you so all of you can together build a better future.
40+ new hires, 200+ interviews, 1000+ CVs screenings 🤯
If the numbers above surprise you, be ready to be shocked, because on an average the number of interviews conducted by growth stage companies shoots 3X of this. In the last 12 months, we at Rocketium made 40+ new hires after 200+ interviews, and screening 1000+ CVs. Whether you’re out in the market seeking opportunities today, or might plan to do so in the near future, our observations below on top-gaps ignored by the talent pool will help you navigate the role-search wisely.
Shoot your shot! - You want that role but the job description says you’re only 40-60% qualified for it. Hang in there!
Record a candid but succinct video pitch and send it across to the recruiter or the leader of the function you’re interested in. They weren’t expecting it but now something that isn’t just another one-click application among 1000+ others, has caught their attention.
Bring your research power into action and find out a few ways you can bring a positive change in their product and team. An interesting anecdote to share, we once received a cold email from a candidate pitching 5 improvement areas in our product’s messaging narrative. We ended up hiring her in less than a week.
Take a dip into their culture - Every growth stage company that values the power of team culture, will openly welcome folks who share common values, over someone who tops an IVY league but creates a toxic work environment for their peers.
Take an effort to read more about their culture on either dedicated company pages or through content shared by Founders and founding team members.
During interviews, ask questions about how they came up with the principles highlighted on their career/culture page. Knowing if the principles are top-down instructed or are co-written along with team members, speaks volumes about how decisions are taken.
Ghosting is archaic - Half way into the process you realize this isn’t your pursuit. Many folks would choose to take the easy path - avoiding calls and emails from the hiring team, not showing up on the interview day, etc. The world is small and you never know when you bump into the same members from the hiring team again.
Share your reason for why you do not see a mutual fitment. Preferably, give them a call and close the loop.
If you can, share with them what you liked about the interview process, as well as the areas where you as a candidate would have expected more.
Money isn’t the ultimate truth - It is a talent driven market and organisations are preparing for all ways to bring the best of folks onboard. We have seen the organisations pay craziest multi-figure salaries and perks. In fact, quite a few strong players in the market have been using incredibly high salaries as a way to cut the entry of new competitive players in the market. As tempting as it may sound, make sure you’ve thought through the longevity and stability of the offerings.
If the market is affected and the organization has to undergo restructuring that leads to your role becoming redundant, would you still be able to find another job without taking a pay cut?
Under all the cash offered, how is the organization’s culture thriving?; Non-cash benefits like health cover, physical & mental wellness support, performance coaching, etc. form a big part in defining how an organization cares for its team.
Is the Engineering team’s culture different from that of the company’s?
‘Micro-culture’ is a real concept. Although, the rise of it is influenced by the values and practises adopted by the larger group of folks. Similarly, the engineering team at Rocketium believes and lives by the principles that tie back to our Prime Directives. While the culture code for engineering remains constant as that of the company’s, the team’s unique approach called for an exclusive mention.
A detailed narration of how our engineering squad is crafted on the engineering culture page here.
If you’re pondering how this narration will help you, below are a few questions that we thought of addressing while detailing these principles. We also circle back to these questions while hiring new team members on the engineering team.
Do they obsess over the shiniest new weapons or do they stick to rusty old tools?
Do they rush into battle or do they while away hours debating at the war table?
Do they go for individual glory or are they mindless cannon fodder for the general?