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10 Tips on Succeeding in a Startup Culture

10 Tips on Succeeding in a Startup Culture

Many of the clients that our team at SunSoft works with to connect them to the best professionals tend to be startups and many of the professionals who come to us to help them locate a job profile that suits their aptitude and qualification tend to seek employment with startups too actively. Having closely worked with both sides of the value chain for some time now, we have realized that the startup environment requires a particular set of traits to succeed, which goes beyond qualification, hard work, and dedication.
We thought it would be a good idea to list some of the most important of these traits; this would not only help anyone seeking employment with a startup to manage their expectations more realistically, provide a guideline to strategize their career growth better once they do begin working with a startup. Some of these points would also be useful to professionals who have already been part of a startup culture for some time now.

1. Do your homework – This one’s a tip for the interview stage. While carefully studying the company you are interviewing with and being conscious of its products, value proposition and strategy is a necessary aspect of any interview process, it becomes even more crucial when talking with a startup. Expressing (genuine) passion for the startup’s product or service, having a clear idea of how you can help build the founders’ vision into reality and developing an understanding of that firm’s culture can go a long way in convincing your interviewers that you are a good fit for the firm.

2. Learn to embrace ambiguity – Through most of one’s educational and professional career, one gets used to well-defined roles, where responsibilities are clear and deliverables stated. Startups seldom work within such defined boundaries. Being willing to embrace ambiguity means that you can quickly adapt to changing requirements from your team or your customer, without it causing any undue friction in your performance.

3. Take ownership – Work in startups typically involves small teams where hand-holding is impossible. You need to learn to swim at the deep end of the pool, look at things from the perspective of our founders and senior management, and work more smartly to add value to the team’s performance as a whole.

4. Be a problem solver – It’s great to be able to identify issues, of which there are going to be a lot of in a startup that’s finding its feet. But, it’s more useful if you can come up with solutions to these issues too. When you can let the company founder know that you found five things that needed improvement and were able to fix them, that’s a compelling way to earn trust. And, well, it’s empowering too – there’s very little that can boost your confidence the way getting a job done that others had overlooked can.

5. Roll up your sleeves – In a small team, you don’t have the luxury of separate members identified for every function. Your firm might not have an HR team to manage recruitment or sufficient support staff to book air tickets for your boss on his next trip. Being great at your job is essential, but what makes you valuable is that you are more concerned with things getting done, not so much with who does them.

6. Develop comfort with mistakes – It’s obvious by now that if you are working in an ambiguous environment, taking up significant responsibilities and even volunteering for jobs that you aren’t specifically hired for, there will be mistakes. Many of them. The problem is not in making mistakes, as long as you are willing to learn from them; the problem is if these scare you enough not to try anything outside your comfort zone in the future.

7. Communicate – This is a particularly necessary trait for a startup. To stay in sync with the requirements of your boss and the rest of the team, to get feedback on your performance, to learn from others and just to develop that camaraderie that keeps you going through thick and thin, there is no better way than to maintain regular communication. And this includes not just regular interaction in the office, but also trying to involve yourself with the occasional evening drinks that your office-mates might get together. Nothing brings a team together more firmly than cribbing about that painful client over a few pints of beer!

8. Find balance – You will typically be working longer, or at least more irregular, hours at a startup. And, given the responsibility per employee, any sick day will probably hurt your startup employer a lot more than if you were working with a huge firm. It becomes even more necessary, then, to find the right work-life balance to prevent a burnout and maintain your health. Try to spend some time every day in an activity of interest outside your work, indulge in some exercise if you have a sedentary job, just walk to that salad place a couple of blocks away for lunch instead of having another burger at your desk.

9. Know when to say no – Taking up responsibilities is nice, knowing what you cannot do is better. Not everyone is built for every job, and even if you are one of those jacks of all trades who can get everything done, there is a limit to how much you can put on your plate without losing focus. If work starts piling up beyond control, be confident enough to say no. Similarly, if everyone else is staying back in the office beyond 7-8 pm, but you know that you have worked efficiently through the day and need a break, develop the confidence to leave. A negative attitude is bad; the ability to say no when you are faced with your boundaries is intelligent.

10. Get paid for your work – No matter how passionate you are about the work you are doing, if you feel that you are not being paid enough for your effort, your interest will gradually waver. Startups can’t always match the pay you might get at an established firm in terms of money, but it should be in tune to some extent with industry standards. Plus, they do have the flexibility to offer perks, like working from home or paid leaves, which are tailored to your needs. If you have a concern about your remuneration, feel confident to bring it up politely with your boss.

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Six Cutting-Edge Technologies that Offer Strong Career Potential

The era of the intelligent enterprise is up upon us. Organizations of all sizes and industry verticals are investing in a range of latest and greatest technologies. IT professionals driving this digital disruption can expect unprecedented career and business opportunities across the technology industry. Here’s our pick for some of the hottest technologies and their use cases in the current age of digitization:

• Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: Skills to leverage advanced computing capabilities in the AI/ML segment will remain in demand as new these areas drive next-generation technology offerings.

• Robotics: Automation across manufacturing as well as consumer segments such as driving.

• Virtual Reality: Particularly in the section of entertainment and video games.

• 3-D Printing: This area will continue to influence manufacturing, architecture, civil and mechanical engineering segment.

• Natural Language Processing, Speech and Pattern Recognition: Social media channels are the treasure trove for organizations looking to learn more about their customers and market. These technologies will enable businesses to yield invaluable insights from Internet-driven Big Data.

• “Anything as a service”: The cloud-enabled services model presents unique advantages for organizations pursuing appropriate services without having to invest resources as CapEx.

• Cyber Security: Security threats continue to evolve, and demands for advanced cyber security skills will remain critical to the enterprise world.

With record high job openings in the US, the hiring climate looks good for job seekers. Brand new technologies that are growing are opening brand new employment opportunities. US industries need a variety of technology skills, and each of those skills has different entry requirements, leading to the opportunity for people looking to change careers or those looking to advance in their current technology careers.


Another research report published by the freelancer marketplace Upwork tracked the global demand for IT skills and found Artificial Intelligence among the most sought after. Other popular choices included several skills within the QA and project management market segment.

As Deloitte research identifies, it is important to note that high profile software design projects that have consistently maintained high skills demand throughout the year 2017 share one fundamental philosophy: A solid foundation in agile, continuous and collaborative processes regardless of the technology area. Ability to embrace this philosophy as an individual and a collective team will continue to prove critical in successful project execution.

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Retaining Top Talent in Your Team

As the economy has bounced back after the global slowdown, options for talented workers have improved too. As a manager or business owner what you can do to ensure that your best employees stay with you over an extended period? We have collected a few points that might help you make work conditions better and keep your employees from looking for greener pastures elsewhere.

• Train your managers – A good manager provides a nurturing environment for the employee to succeed, and keeps any supervision from turning suffocating.  

• Provide practical benefits – instrumental benefits, like good health insurance or paid leaves, can give any company an edge in a market competing through high pay packages to attract and retain talent.

• Create a stimulating work environment – Cubicles for workers who prefer privacy to work, a café for occasional breaks or a gaming room to de-stress, or even allowing flexible timings or work-from-home options, are just some of the ways to make the office a welcoming place.

• Reward good performance – Despite being the prime motivator for continued excellence, many firms fail to ensure this, probably to avoid appearing biased.

• Connect employees’ work to the larger picture – Regular feedback that helps employees be clear about the firm’s expectations is essential for a sense of engagement and avoidance of stress.

• Listen to your employees – Engage regularly with your staff to know their needs and aspirations – the best way to implement the other employee retention pointers mentioned above.

Retaining your best employees has a direct positive effect on the firm’s bottom line. While some of the steps above may appear costly, the value of your best employees staying with you for a long time far outweighs the cost of any investment you might have to make.

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Working Hard Vs Overworking


Do you work late most weekdays and over weekends? Take phone calls from work regularly during your family time? Keep checking office emails on your phone every few minutes, and get restless if you aren’t able to respond immediately?

What could be more alarming while doing this you probably think of yourself as an efficient, hard-working, committed worker? Most organizations today expect their employees to be responsive every second of the day, just because technology allows one to. The modern office culture also encourages the belief that the more time employees spend at the workplace, the more valuable, ambitious and successful they are, with being overly busy considered a badge of honor.


If you proudly (or sheepishly) answered yes to the questions above, there is a good chance you are working harder than what your mind and your body can sustain, and are teetering on the edge of burnout. There is also a good chance its effects show up at other places in your life – you could be prone to one or more of the following conditions:

  • Stress
  • Irritability
  • Lack of motivation
  • no family or social life
  • Constant tiredness
  • Erratic work performance

There is a fine line between working hard and overworking. Unfortunately, it has become increasingly common for many of us to cross it, and fall into a repetitive pattern of working ever harder and finding, even more, work left to do.

Working beyond what you can or should, in turn, leads to graver problems. Overworked employees are at a much higher chance of having issues like depression, anxiety, and immune system problems. And, perversely, it hurts your work performance too – judgment, creativity, efficiency, overall productivity, all have been scientifically proven to come down in constantly overburdened workers, defeating the very purpose of working very long hours.


Like a lot else, this problem is also largely of your making, so playing the victim might not do. Instead, you are the best person to take the first steps towards a saner work environment for yourself, and here are a few practical ways to help you do it:

Realize there is such a thing as working too hard. Everyone’s capacity for working without a break is different. If you hardly spend time with your family, have no time for interests beyond work, or feel tired much too often, you have gone beyond yours. The first step towards finding a cure is always the realization that you need one.

Set some boundaries. Stick to basic rules like ‘no checking of a phone during meals’ and designate certain periods during the day as off-limits for office issues.

Prioritize work. Some things at your office need your undivided attention. Others, not so much. Not all meetings need to last as long as they do. Not every client needs to be engaged on a call for an hour. Most ‘nice to do’ work can be avoided.

Take breaks. Firstly, short, but meaningful ones at your job. A long break spent discussing office politics is probably not an ideal break from the grind. You might prefer a quick walk around the block, or read a couple of chapters by your favorite author. Secondly, go off the grid, either alone, with your family, or close friends, once in a while. Both kinds of breaks help your mind replenish its resources, and also give you time to focus better and stop being an automaton.

Be an example. How you handle your work life can be an inspiration to others, especially if you have people working for you. Don’t encourage the culture of weekend meetings and staying late every night at the office. Don’t try to shame people leaving before you, and don’t get cowed into staying back if someone does it to you. Long working hours do not necessarily mean greater productivity.

It is not easy changing a pattern set over the years. Workaholics – and this is an actual thing – go through withdrawal when weaned off their unhealthy working system. To make matters worse, workaholism, unlike other addictions, is not disapproved.

Finally, working hard is a great thing. It helps you achieve greatness. But, are you working hard on the right stuff? What could be greater than working on yourself, and your relationships, to maintain your health and happiness?

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How to prepare for an interview

By Doug Hardy, Monster Staff Writer
Even if you have less than a day before your job interview, you can outshine the competition with a little interview preparation. The following four tasks will take you about four hours (plus five minutes) to complete, making this the best approach when it comes to how to prepare for an interview.

How to prepare for an interview

1. Conduct basic interview research

To prepare for an interview, find out as much as you can beforehand. Call the person who scheduled your interview and ask:

Who will you be talking to? Will you meet the manager you’d work for, or will you just talk to HR? What are the interviewer’s expectations?
What’s the dress code? Dress better than suggested. Most times, it’s best to wear a professional suit. You’d be amazed how many candidates show up looking like they’re going to class, not presenting a professional demeanor.
Get directions to the office. Plan to leave early. Keep a phone number to call if you get stuck on the bus or in traffic. If you arrive late and stressed, the interview will not go well.
If you don’t have a detailed job description, ask for one.
That’s a five-minute phone call.

2. Learn about the company online

Do some fast research, which will give you something to talk about in addition to the job description. Go to the employer’s website, or Google information such as:

How big is the company in terms of annual sales or employees?
What does the company say about its products or services?
What recent news (such as a new product, a press release, an interview with the CEO) can you discuss?
If the company is public, the boilerplate at the bottom of its press releases will tell you a lot.
Basic research should take you about an hour.

3. Think of some stories

Be ready to answer typical interview questions with a story about yourself. To prepare, write down and memorize three achievement stories. Talk about times you’ve really felt proud of an achievement at work or school. These stories demonstrate all those hard-to-measure qualities like judgment, initiative, teamwork or leadership. Wherever possible, quantify what you’ve done, e.g., “increased sales by 20 percent,” “cut customer call waiting time in half,” “streamlined delivery so that most customers had their job done in two days.”

By the way, non-work achievement stories are good too; if you volunteer for the local food pantry, write down a time you overcame a big challenge or a crisis there.

Achievement stories make you memorable, which is what you want. There’s an exercise in Monster Careers: Interviewing called “Mastering the Freestyle Interview,” which helps you develop these stories into compelling sales points.

Take the time you need—at least three hours on this task.

4. Pick your outfit, and go to bed early

Lay out your interview outfit the night before, get a good night’s rest, and always get an early start. The last thing you want is to waste all of your interview preparation by arriving flustered and panicked because you couldn’t find a parking space.


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A Good Mentor Can Help Limit Uncertainty

Being an entrepreneur is one of those few jobs where your path is not charted out for you. No one cares about your past experience, no one will hold your hand when things get difficult and no one will sugar coat their belief in your potential failure.

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