Getting a Job at a Small Start-up Company Takes More

Everyone dreams of being part of a cool start-up company that hits it big. We picture loft spaces with no desks or cubicles, just comfy couches and ping-pong tables. Executives are young hipsters who don’t even own a suit, let alone wear one to work every day. Perfect, right?

While these companies do exist, they are few and far between. Landing a job at a place like this is going to be much harder than getting a job at an established behemoth corporation that employs hundreds or thousands of employees. Why do these differences exist and what can you do to set yourself apart?

Owners of start-up companies have a lot to lose

Start-ups are generally the brainchild of one or two people who have poured their heart and soul, and probably their life savings, into a company.  They literally cannot afford to hire mediocre applicants to see if they work out, then replace them if they don’t. So they are going to be more particular in their hiring process.

In a recent company-wide email, Lacy Starling, President of Legion Logistics, illustrated this fact. She said:


See? We don’t just hire any warm body who submits a resume. In one month:

287 resumes have been submitted

OF THOSE: 95 candidates have been called by Jason or Danielle for a phone interview

OF THOSE: 26 written pre-req questionnaires have been sent out to candidates

OF THOSE: 17 candidates have had first round interviews or been invited to a hiring seminar

OF THOSE: 5 candidates have completed assessment tests

OF THOSE:  4 candidates have completed background checks

OF THOSE: 0 have made it to interview with Lacy & Tony


Even in an industry known for its “churn and burn” mentality in larger companies, logistics start-ups are still very selective in hiring.

What start-ups look for in job applicants

1. The right personality: When people get along in a start-up, there is a close-knit feeling that you will never find in a big corporation. On the flip-side, if there is someone who is impossible to get along with, it can ruin the vibe of the entire company. So personality is very important. Make sure your personality matches that of the company before you apply, then showcase it in your resume and during your interview.

The employees at Legion Logistics enjoy the camaraderie of their co-workers. Sure, the sales people are competitive, they have to be to make a living. But they also help each other out, enjoy social events together, and joke constantly. If you enjoy this type of atmosphere, the Legion might be the place for you. If you want a quiet, all-business-no-play office, you better keep looking.

2. Drive: Start-ups require a lot of work from a small workforce. There are not layers of people to pick up the slack if someone isn’t doing their part. Start-up employees should have an entrepreneurial spirit and be willing to work much harder than their corporate counterparts. Owners of start-ups love to hire graduates who started a business or spearheaded a volunteer initiative during their college years.

3. Flexibility: Those who work at start-ups have to wear many hats. The phrase, “That wasn’t in my job description” doesn’t exist in small companies. Employees are expected to do what needs to be done. If you have worked in this type of environment before and thrived in it, you will be considered a big asset by a small start-up.

Most larger logistics companies pigeon-hole their employees into certain roles; some find customers, others book loads, some talk to carriers while others talk to shippers. Here at Legion Logistics, our Problem Solvers find their own customers, book their own freight, follow up with carriers throughout the haul and confirm with customers that their products have arrived. They are sales people, logistics experts, and customer service professionals all rolled into one.

4. Reliability: This goes back to the lack of extra resources available to keep hiring and training people. Start-ups don’t want someone who is completely gung-ho about a project for the first six months, then gets burned out or bored and looks to move on.

If you have worked on a long-term project from start to finish, whether it be career-related or in a volunteer setting, make sure your potential start-up employer knows about it. They need employees that are in it for the long haul. Yep, pun intended.


So you think you have what it takes to work at a start-up? Then get out there and show them!