Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Start-ups with Part-time/Temporary Jobs and Grads Who Need Them

Lauren Drell wrote about a topic this weekend important to job searchers: how to get a start-up to hire you. Her post is also important for start-ups that might want to hire but don’t feel the money is available.

Drell offers three ways to get noticed by a start-up, but her third way is the most realistic: she calls it “start small,” and what she means is that instead of going straight to work for a start-up, do a little bit at a time. In other words, people are working part-time for start-ups, while working full-time at another job or part-time at two other jobs.

The generation of us who started college after Black Monday and finished with a recession in full swing often worked two or three jobs until we landed on our feet, and today’s graduates should not see themselves as the exception to that.

One key difference between then and now is that the Health Care Act of 2010 gives young people until age 26 to find health insurance. That is much-appreciated breathing room.

Whether you agree with this policy or not, this policy allows graduates to work two or three part-time jobs, including part-time for a start-up or small business, which allows time for gaining experience that they can parlay into a full-time job with benefits down the road.

For start-ups, this means that people with the social media skills, coding skills, engineering skills, or knowledge about faster, cheaper, updated methods for doing things are available to you.

Before you say, “but that means that big companies are providing coverage for small companies,” I see your point; however, the experience the student gains on the ground with a start-up will benefit a bigger company a few years down the road.

The until-age-26 health coverage plan is not the answer, but it is a stop-gap measure that helps.

To get a job with a start-up, sending out resumes in response to ads is only one of the tasks job searchers need to be doing. Start-ups do not have the luxury most of the time to hire from a batch of resumes, either, even though a position may be advertised. Taking a chance with a “stranger” is not a good time; however, advertising pays off because once in awhile a gem emerges. Making contacts, showing your skills, even staying until you’re hired, as one candidate in Drell's post did,  might even work out.

So, if you are about to be a college grad looking for a job, try these things:
  • Attend professional meetings in your field. This means getting out your calendar, finding one professional development event per week to attend, noting it in the calendar and going.
  • Intern (it’s not too late to intern right after graduation).
  • Ask to do jobs for free for several people you know just to build a portfolio.
The lesson here for start-ups and small businesses is that if you need to hire someone with specific expertise, you do not need to find a full-time place on your staff; you can simply start out the relationship in a small way, by paying for expertise and time in a way that feels comfortable for both parties.

If you are a small business or start-up and wish you could hire someone but don’t have the funds at this time, try these things:
  • Look for someone who will work on a project-to-project basis.
  • Connect with a university department that does what you need. Will a student (maybe even a graduate student) work for you part-time?
  • Seek once-a-year expertise for key business components (like an annual health check-up), and then look for affordable ways to implement these.
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