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by Cathy Vandewater | October 09, 2012


The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) posed a question to its members: "What types of things should job seekers include in their resumes if they're trying to get hired by a successful startup?"

The invite-only nonprofit (made up of young entrepreneurs) got a lot of great answers from small business owners on what they'd like to see—but what about a big company? How can you be bold enough to be noticed without being offensive?

In a sea of applicants, a few not-so-tried-and-true tactics can help you stand out. So stop being too cool for school, or too scared to be an individual. It's the little flaws, failures, and gutsy moves that will make you memorable.

1. Mention your failed business

Tried to go it alone and failed? No need to hide it. It takes moxie, passion, and grit to start your own business—all very hirable qualities. Acknowledge that it didn't work out, but describe your hard work during the initial roll out, or creative solutions you came up with for launch problems. A story of how you took customer service calls from another time zone at 1am tells a lot about your work ethic, and you shouldn't skip sharing it just because the project that didn't pan out over all.

2. Tell a "lesson learned" story

Once you've made a case for your competence, don't be afraid to share a moment of weakness or embarrassment from your work history. Just be sure there's a "lesson learned": a takeaway you got from the incident that changed your outlook or work habits for the better. And laugh at yourself, too! Showing a sense of humor about a gaffe lets the interviewer know you can take criticism.

3. Commit

Companies—especially start ups, but not exclusively—are looking for team members who are fully on board. They want people who are willing to adapt when necessary, and who are interested in the long haul.

Unfortunately, showing a high level of commitment can backfire if you're insincere: this kind of enthusiasm is hard to fake, so reserve it for an interview with a company you truly admire.

And do your homework too—it will be hard convincing an employer that you admire their company if you can't name a single product. Speaking of products, be sure to go beyond the company's offerings and explain why you love the core business model and want to grow with it. Not being too tied to a specific job title or project but rather the company as a whole puts a "longevity" stamp on your resume--and a HIRE ME stamp on your forehead.

--Cathy Vandewater,

Read more:
12 Things Startups Want To See On Your Resume (Business Insider)
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC)
How the Presidential Debate Can Make You a Better Interviewer


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