How to Find a Job at a New York City Startup

There is a lot of buzz around New York City’s emergence as a new hub for technology companies and innovation. The job opportunities are out there, if you know where to look and take the right approach.

Where to look

Lots of companies are hiring, but it can be hard to know where to start. Here are some great resources for finding a job in the New York City startup community.

Job Boards

Startuply, Startupers, and Hackruiter are job boards specifically for startups, and are good places to begin the search. Indeed.com and SimplyHired aggregate all job listings, so most startup positions will also be published there. You will, however, have to sort through lots of noise to find the startups.

The NY Tech Meetup maintains a list of companies based in New York City that includes links to many companies’ job boards. The city also maintains an interactive map of NYC startups with job listings.

You should also investigate local venture capital firms, as many of them have job boards aggregating positions in their portfolio companies. For example, the Union Square Ventures job board is excellent.

Participate in Events and Meetups

There is a vibrant community in New York City, which means lots and lots of events. This is exemplified by the NY Tech Meetup, which is the largest meetup in the world. Every month NYC startups demo their apps at NY Tech Meetup. In addition, there is at least one meetup group for every programming language, as well as meetups for entrepreneurs, community managers, startups, and more.

Even if you aren’t a programmer, consider attending some of the tech meetups to get a flavor of the community. Many growing startups host these meetups to show off their space and raise their profile in the community, so it can be educational to attend.

In addition to the meetup scene, there are lots of events organized specifically to highlight hiring startups in NYC. For example, at WalkAboutNYC, dozens of startups opened their doors to the community in a citywide open house. The Silicon Alley Talent Fair brings many of the hiring startups in one place for a giant, NYC-focused career fair.

Get Educated

Look to expand your skill set with many inexpensive courses available. You can sign up for a community developed course using NYC-based service SkillShare, or check out the educational offerings at General Assembly.

Event Aggregators and Mailing Lists

With so many events, meetups, talent fairs, and more going on, it can be hard to keep track. There are a few mailing lists that have been very beneficial to me in keeping up with NYC tech:

  • Venture Capitalist Charlie O’Donnell runs a mailing list with upcoming tech events and happenings in NY
  • Startup Digest is a free, weekly email digest of startup and tech events
  • Gary’s Guide aggregates events in New York City
  • LinkedList NYC is a weekly newsletter of cool things for engineers to do in New York

Stay Informed

Startups are constantly forming, growing, consolidating, and pivoting. You can stay up to date by reading publications such as Business Insider’s Silicon Alley Insider or BetaBeat, which specifically cover New York Tech.

How to Apply — My Unsolicited Advice

As a hiring manager, I am much more likely to respond to a personal referral, an in-person meeting at a technology event, or a targeted connection on social media. In many cases, I already have candidates in mind — from my network or my colleagues’ network — before I post a job online. And in some cases, a job listing isn’t even posted.

So how do you apply for a job that you don’t even know exists? You need to spend time networking and following companies and entrepreneurs that inspire you. A few, targeted contacts to specific companies will pay off much better than submitting a generic resume to every startup in the city.

A Real World Story: How I Hired Francesca

Mashable recently profiled my colleague, Francesca Krihely, in an article about how Generation Y uses social media to find jobs. Last year, Francesca was interning at a New York City startup, but ready for full time work. She started following several companies that she found particularly interesting — including 10gen. She  began tweeting at me about community management and open source. We agreed to meet over coffee, and she came with a notebook and a list of questions about the company and about being a community manager.

I immediately wanted to hire her, even though that wasn’t what the meeting was explicitly about. She demonstrated that she was smart, social media savvy, knowledgeable about the company, and interested in community management. As we finished our coffee, I gave her a copy of The Little MongoDB Book and asked her, “So, how do I hire someone like you?” The next day, I got this email:

Hi Meghan,

I keep thinking about our conversation from yesterday regarding a new community manager for 10gen, and I’d like to let you know that I might have a good candidate for you: it’s me. Before we had coffee, I got an offer that I was really excited about – but last night I read through the Little MongoDB book. I could not believe that someone from your community wrote that for you under creative commons. That’s the type of community I would love to help nurture and build.

Additionally, I was really energized by our meeting and I keep wondering what it would be like to work at 10gen instead. I don’t want to think back on this opportunity and wonder “what if”

So I guess it’s now or never to ask if my skill set would work for this position.

I really would love to talk with you about this – I think mongo is amazing and it would be so great to work with and learn from you.

Thanks – let me know next steps – hope this email isn’t too forward!

My resume is attached for reference.

All my best,

Francesca

A few weeks later she was on the team.

Another Real World Story: How I Hired Justin

Even if you don’t get the job at the startup that you dream of, if you connect with a few startups as Francesca did, you will, at a minimum, gain contacts and advocates. Here is another real world story.

About six months ago, I met an amazing candidate we’ll call B. Like Francesca, B knew and loved MongoDB. At the time, we didn’t really have a role that matched his skill set but I thought he would be an asset to some of the other startups in my network. I posted his LinkedIn profile to a private forum for Union Square Ventures companies. Within an hour, the CEO of Shapeways emailed me for an intro, and shortly thereafter B had a new job.

A few months later, another candidate, Justin, was interviewing at Shapeways. As a “maker” Shapeways seemed like an obvious option, but there wasn’t a position for him at the time. Upon speaking with Justin, B remembered that 10gen was hiring and referred him over. I was thrilled to meet Justin — he was a Wharton grad, a hobbyist programmer, interested in working at a startup, and he came strongly referred. We hired him. I wonder if he would have even known to apply to 10gen if he hadn’t started talking to Shapeways.

Targeted Networking

As you can see from the examples above, networking in a targeted way is critical. You should use the tools described above – job boards, mailing lists, meetups, etc. – to find out who is hiring, and make connections to those companies. The best gigs might not even be listed on their sites.

Get Recruited

Even better than seeking out employment is having employers seeking you out! Get your name out there:

  • Complete your profile on LinkedIn, using relevant keywords and listing skills and expertise.
  • If you are a programmer, post your code on Github and contribute to open source projects.
  • Maintain a blog and post on topics that demonstrate your expertise and ideas.

Closing with a shameless plug

If you want to work at an awesome New York City startup that is building the next revolution in database software, get in touch with me about careers at 10gen. We’re hiring developers who are passionate about open source, account managers to work with our growing customer base, marketing professionals to build the open source community, and more.

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4 thoughts on “How to Find a Job at a New York City Startup

  1. Gregory says:

    If you’re looking to join a startup in NYC, make sure you check out kikin. (http://kikin.com)

  2. I think the best way to find a job is probably through github and blogging. With so many candidates available if you blog and submit code, perhaps even create an open source product thats used by many other developers you can get your name out there.

  3. We use MongoDB at mojomotors.com and we love it! Regarding the post though, we’ve had success using startuply for job postings and we are currently hiring account managers for any of you entrepreneurially-minded folks out there who can sell a ketchup popcicle to a person in white gloves…

  4. Josh says:

    I’d like to add http://www.underdog.io to the list. It’s a resume aggregator for NYC startups. Apply once and your resume will be seen by a ton of NYC’s top startups.

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