Job Hunting
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Accepting a role at a startup - what to know as a job seeker

June 23, 2022

For jobseekers new to the startup world - there’s a few things you should know when interviewing or evaluating an offer. Equity, compensation, perks - plus parts of the interview process - can look a little different from hiring processes at larger, more established companies.

Below are some of our top tips for startup job seekers.

Many startups offer equity - but understanding how it works is important.

Often, equity is presented to employees as RSUs. An RSU, or Rested Stock Unit, refers to units of stock an employee receives the right to purchase after a certain period of time. Typically, an employee must remain at a company for a year (known as a cliff) before accessing the right to any stock options. After that, stock units “vest” - meaning, over time, an employee is able to access more and more of their options. Most vesting schedules last a few years, and often equity is vested on a monthly basis.

The number of RSUs an employee is granted can vary depending on role, years of experience, or company size. Joining an earlier stage seed company can often mean more options than joining a company that’s raised many more rounds of funding.

Additionally - some employers offer candidates options like higher cash compensation with fewer stock units, or lower compensation with higher stock units. Understanding how your equity works during the interview process, and definitely before you accept an offer, will help you make sure you accept an offer that’s right for you.

Compensation varies, but startups still want top talent.

Depending on the role or function, startups want top talent - and are willing to put together competitive packages. At Recruiting from Scratch, we’ve worked with candidates who have worked at large corporations or big tech, but want to take on a new challenge at a startup.

When combined with equity or other perks - compensation at a startup can be a great option for a variety of employees - from recent grads to mid-career. Check out General Assembly’s guide for more info on startup compensation.

Many startups offer great - and often unique - benefits.

Many startups offer great benefits in addition to healthcare and PTO, that are often unique and based on employee feedback. Computer or work-from-home equipment, travel stipends, fitness stipends, financial wellness, free or discounted products depending on their business are some examples.

Many employees find these types of benefits more useful than traditional benefits. Regarding PTO, many startups offer unlimited time off so employees can take personal time as needed - with some even starting to require time off so employees aren’t afraid to take vacations while the rest of their team is working.

Flexibility is common.

Many startups, especially those that started, or ramped up during the pandemic, are flexible with when or where their employees work. While many larger companies may be calling their employees back to work (see a list of all these companies here), a lot of startups are fine with their employees continuing to work remotely. Or, many startups offer their employees memberships - to co-working spots like WeWork - so they can work at office-type environments on their own schedule, anywhere in the world.

In an interview, ask questions and be informed.

When interviewing for a startup role, ask questions about anything related to the new or startup nature of the business. No question - especially if you haven’t worked at a startup or early stage company before - is a bad question! Some sample questions could be:

  • What series of funding is your company in?
  • Where did you raise capital from?
  • How did you found your business?
  • What’s your plan for growth?
  • What is your plan for raising more capital in the future? (PS - they probably need you and your skillset in order to do this!)

Want to see more posts on startup hiring? Check out this post on when to hire a Head of Product for your startup and this post on hiring a Chief Technology Officer.  

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