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11 Skills every Startup Employee Hopeful should Hone

by: Finella Kristle Panlilio

Thursday, November 6, 2014 |

If you’re one of those who wish to work for a start-up company in hopes of transforming your career and perhaps someday creating a startup of your own, there are a few specific skills you need to hone. Don’t worry, these skills are not all tech-related. In fact, business executives these days seem to be far more interested in traits like a growth mindset and adaptability than your resume.

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) entrepreneurs share with Mashable what they think is most essential to increase your chances of getting through the hiring process.

1. Networking skills
For Go Overseas Co-founder and CEO Mitch Gordon, because making the right hiring decision at a small startup is critical, he always reaches out to his fellow founders and connections on LinkedIn before making any hiring decisions. Your odds of receiving an interview offer increases exponentially if you’re able to send an email via an introduction from a respectable individual. So be purposeful about networking and email people who are interesting to you.

2. An impressive portfolio
In interviews, actions speak louder than words. Beef up your portfolio with a series of your accomplishments: projects you worked on, issues you solved, things you created, teams you led. 8fit founder Pablo Villalba’s advice is for you to be really good at something, show others how you succeeded in similar situations, and you’d have no problem landing any job you like.

3. Adaptability
For MEBO International CEO Kevin Xu, it is necessary for every startup employee to be able to adapt quickly to the working environment and company culture of the organization they get to work for.

4. A good understanding of analytics
Thursday Bram, founder and CEO of Hyper Modern Consulting, said having a good grasp of analytics is useful - no matter what role you want at a startup. Understanding analytics is a critical skill that not all entry-level employees have. Being able to quickly determine what is and isn't working will make you a major asset, even if you’re working with founders who aren't particularly concerned with metrics. And if you’re working with a startup that follows the numbers, you’ll be able to get fully informed on the work more quickly than your less analytical competition.

5. Confidence
According to SDC Nutrition, Inc. President and CEO Sean Marszalek, an individual that exudes confidence throughout the interview process demonstrates success and a great energy. Prospects that display tenacity and confidence are favored by employers because they will bring that attitude to the workplace.

6. A great handle on numbers
George Bousis, founder and CEO of Raise.com, said bringing a new feature - or just yourself - to the table means being prepared to discuss, convince, and demonstrate how you will grow the business. You should be confident in discussing growth and progress that’s completely numbers-driven and understand how big the audience is, the conversion metrics and the unit economics of the business.

7. Initiative
The highest achieving teammates are those who have a history of taking initiative and doing projects on their own. A potential startup teammate’s ability to be creative, independent and action-oriented is demonstrated when they share a project they built and implemented on their own. To Nanxi Liu, CEO of Enplug, Inc., these skill sets are important because each teammate is likely to wear multiple hats.

8. Personal branding
Every startup wants that wunderkind who is often mentioned in the press. Become well-known for your achievements, or at least build credibility and demonstrate your knowledge and skill by guest posting on influential sites, said Firas Kittaneh, the CEO behind Amerisleep.

9. Effective selling techniques
All that matters for a startup is sales. Earners Group founder Charles Moscoe’s advice is to learn to be aggressive with sales and don’t be afraid to cold call or do what it takes to close a deal.

10. Tenacity
Show your future employer how hard you can hustle when you want something bad enough. Show no signs of giving up. If you aren't giving it your all every single day then you aren't a good fit for a startup, said Matt Wilson of Under30Experiences.

11. Presentation skills
For CPXi CEO Mike Seiman, the key is to be persuasive, and how you present yourself in front of people is crucial to that. Being practiced in delivering pitches - from short elevator pitches to longer and formal presentations - is a useful skill that shows you can present in front of your own team, prospective clients or even investors.

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