Recruiting · Failure

How do you go about job hunting after a failed start-up?

nishant asnani

November 2nd, 2014

After putting about some considerable amount of time in my start-up, I have realized that it had failed to achieve what it was meant to and our calculations and expectations have been wrong. There have been quite a few good learnings though, but it is hard to put forward the same in words and I do not know where to start from for job hunting. Any thoughts or ideas?

Michael Brill Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products

November 3rd, 2014

Would be interested in hearing from you about how startup failure is viewed in India. I think we all assume it's a badge of honor these days, but not so much everywhere. As far as this group goes, it's a badge of honor if you learned something that is going to help you avoid the same mistakes next time.

How you communicate this to a hiring company really depends on the context. If you are interviewing at a large firm then they probably care more about your skills and whether you're likely to quit and start another company. If it's a small company then it's critical to focus on what you learned *especially* if you can identify a potential weakness that the interviewing company has and let them infer that without you they'll make the same mistakes. That is, they get all the value of your efforts in your failed startup with none of the risk!

Whether you assume responsibility for failure is another issue. When I interview someone, I want them to be responsible for as many of the actions and results as possible. When they say "oh, it's a poor economy" or "too many competitors" or anything like that, I just shut down. That basically says you're a passenger and that when my company runs into challenges, you'll just look to others for leadership. If you're interviewing at a small company, take as much responsibility as possible - maybe even more than you should - and describe the lessons learned. They will always assume that you won't make the same mistake twice and value the fact that you made decisions as a leader.

Final point is that in the aftermath of a failure, it's often to know exactly what went wrong. Lots of small-ish things, but those are generally just symptoms. To the extent that you can point to as a single, systematic and perhaps non-obvious underlying factor, then you make it easier for the interviewing company to understand and hire you. If you make them piece together several elements of the story then it gets fuzzy as soon as your interview is over. You're selling yourself, so make it easy to buy... and remember that your failure is not a bug, it's a feature.








Chris Carruth VP/Director. Strategy | Business Development | Operations | Product | Solutions

November 2nd, 2014

I am coming off a start-up as well. My view is that a start-up teaches you to look at the big picture but also makes plain flaws in assumptions and execution that are valuable for all companies to leverage, large and small. Think through what you learned and apply to resume, networking and interviewing.

C

Brian Hult New Product Development Chemist, Entrepreneur & Board Member

November 3rd, 2014

LinkedIn has been instrumental for me in the past and continues to help foster new connections. I think the best way is to get out and network! Join or attend any professional groups and contribute in the meantime while you search for your next gig. Best of luck in the search!

nishant asnani

November 3rd, 2014

In India, there are lots of start-ups mushrooming in every corner of the country addressing specific problems to the problem of masses. 
Networking with like minded people is difficult as most conversation draws down to the fact that if you were not earning for this long, you were not working at all.
While a Big Companies have this view, a small company or a start-up looks at it as a potential threat and hence refrain from having them in the team.  

Also there lies a dilemma and it is difficult to understand your worth as you have not history of salary for some time and hence negotiating for pay becomes difficult

Michael Brill Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products

November 4th, 2014

Nishant, don't be a victim and start taking ownership of what you've done and what you want to do.

"I have realized that it had failed to achieve what it was meant to..."

*It* didn't fail... *it* doesn't even exist other than a piece of paper. *It* is *you* and you created it, likely had some successes before you decided that it wasn't a good use of time to continue to pursue it. Own it. Be proud that you had the guts to start something and the guts to shut it down when it wasn't working.

And take that attitude to your interviews. Focus on the positive elements of what you did and what you learned... and how that is valuable to the interviewing company. Interviewing is selling yourself and you should be able to take *anything* on a resume and turn it into a positive. 

Sorry to be harsh, but it feels like you're letting yourself be defined by a negative view of your environment. Trust me... I'm the master of assuming the worst and it's *never* as bad as you think it is. And if even if you are doubtful, then Fake It Til You Make It. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fake_it_till_you_make_it