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Ultimate Guide: Startup Experience on a Resume (5 Best Examples)

The best startup experience shows how you made a direct impact on the company’s growth. They’re also telling of your personality and job skills…

May 31, 2024

Here’s what your experience at a startup company might’ve looked like: 

  • You founded and ran a startup yourself
  • You worked at a startup and supported its growth
  • You worked at a startup and it’s now out of business

It can be worth writing about any of these experiences on a resume because they’re telling of your character aside from your level of technical skills in your role. 

Now, there are 10 steps to write about startup experience on a resume properly. Read this ultimate guide to stand out in your next job application! 

Note: If the startup you worked at failed, it’s not necessary to mention it unless you’re asked by recruiters. But even then, you’re still able to draw from valuable experiences or insights. 

The Difference Between Job Experience in Startups and Big Companies

Here are a few main differences between working at a startup and a big company: 

  • Company Culture: Startups are more entrepreneurial-focused, where innovation and creativity are strongly encouraged. On the other hand, big companies would have a more established structure and procedures to follow. 
  • Job Responsibilities: Employees are typically given more admin tasks and autonomy in startups because they’re often bootstrapped. In contrast, employees in big companies will have more specialized roles and specific responsibilities. 
  • Professional Development: You’re in the trenches of innovation when working for a startup. This means you’ll have to learn new skills and technologies quickly to execute projects that directly impact the startup’s bottom line. In contrast, big companies will have established training and skills development programs. 

Important Reminder: Not all startups are the same. There are different stages of company growth to consider that affect the culture and workflow structure. 

5 Best Resume Examples With Startup Experience 

We listed the top startup resumes below, including why they secured a job interview. 

Chief Product Officer Resume

CPO resume

Why Hiring Teams Love This Resume

The Chief Product Officer resume template has an aligned work and academic background. All of these can link back to growing startup companies and building products. 

Here are the top reasons why this resume with startup experience works: 

  • Founder Experience: The candidate was once a founder, meaning they have firsthand experience running a company. Their background in startup companies gives potential employers confidence that they have a strong sense of business acumen.
  • Certifications: All certifications listed apply to startup companies. This, alongside their experience, shows they have industry knowledge in building a startup.
  • Transferable Skills: This resume showcases transferable skills and traits that are beneficial across all industries. One example is the ability to lead cross-functional teams.
  • Key Business Tasks: Securing funding, preparing reports for investors, market research, and so forth. This all implies the candidate is conscious of company goals and objectives.  

Director of Global Partnerships Resume

Director of global partnerships

Why Hiring Teams Love This Resume

The Director of Global Partnerships resume template tailors their startup experience in a way that’s relevant to the job they’re applying for. 

Here are the top reasons why this resume works: 

  • Career Progression: The professional development arc is clear. From professor to director, the reader can see that the candidate has continuously developed their skill set. 
  • Quantitative Achievements: Statistics are used to highlight achievements. Numbers are also used to describe job responsibilities. This emphasizes the impact the candidate has made. 
  • Tailored Summary: The summary is concise and tailored to the company they’re applying for. All it includes is the candidate’s area of expertise, followed by an objective. 
  • Strong Communication: Interpersonal skills are essential for the position they’re applying for. In this resume, they highlight various achievements and job responsibilities from startup work experience that demonstrate a high level of communication skills. 

Financial Analyst Intern Resume

Financial Analyst

Why Hiring Teams Love This Resume

The Financial Analyst Intern resume example does a great job of highlighting the candidate’s character with the extra resume sections. What’s also impressive is how the startup experience is tailored to the company’s needs. 

Here are the top reasons why this resume works: 

  • Relevant Experience: The candidate’s career timeline revolves around the analyst role, positioning themselves as a good fit for the job.
  • Startup Consultant: Experience as a startup consultant indicates expertise in startups. The description has also been tailored to fit the job description, further positioning the candidate as the type of analyst hiring managers are looking for. 
  • Quantified Job Responsibilities: Professional work experience is limited but compelling, thanks to the numbers used to specify key tasks. 

Strategy Analyst Resume

Strategy Analyst

Why Hiring Teams Love This Resume

The Strategy Analyst resume example is focused on startup experience. This is effective when applying specifically for startup companies.  

Here are the top reasons why this resume works: 

  • Startup-Focused Summary: Provides a clear overview of the candidate’s track record, core competencies, and goals.  
  • Relationship Building: Experienced in cooperating with clients, teams, and company directors. This is an ability that startup companies value.
  • Stakeholder Communication: The candidate’s experience in startups shows they can communicate effectively with stakeholders. 

Startup Founder Resume

Startup Founder

Why This Startup Resume Is Perfect 

This Startup Founder resume example has the perfect startup experience mainly because it’s results-oriented. 

The bullet points under the candidate’s experience as a CEO and founder are impressive, as is their experience as an independent startup consultant. 

Here are the top reasons why this resume works: 

  • Entrepreneurship: The candidate has hands-on experience growing a startup company from the ground up. 
  • Desirable Achievements: Achievements such as “securing over $650,000 in investment” and “$8,000,000 in valuation” are compelling. These are results that other startups are aiming for, which makes the candidate look like the ideal fit. 
  • Focused Work History: The candidate has consistent work experience in technical roles. This highlights their areas of expertise. 
  • Expert Positioning: The additional section of “consultancy” reinforces their positioning as an expert in the realm of startup companies. 

How to Write About Startup Experience on a Resume Step-by-Step

Here’s a general resume sentence formula to follow: 

  • Use an action verb related to the skills you applied
  • Mention an achievement or project outcome you worked towards
  • Include the timeframe of the achievement or project outcome
  • Share details related to the tasks you executed  
  • Mention further details related to business goals or responsibilities

Focus on showing startup-related skills by writing about the impact of your contributions. To be specific, we’ll go through the exact steps below. 

1. Focus on Impact-Driven Action Verbs

Impact means how your efforts made a positive change at a company. 

Every bullet point typically begins with a resume action verb that describes the impact you made. 

You could use an adverb to start a resume bullet point but use these sparingly. Otherwise, it may look like another resume cliché. 

Once you know what action verb to use, write about what you did to make an impact. 

Quantify your responsibilities when you can to emphasize the significance of your efforts. Make the before and after results clear to the reader. 

Examples of Impact-Driven Resume Action Verbs 

  • Achieved
  • Accelerated
  • Built
  • Conceptualized
  • Created
  • Executed
  • Expanded
  • Exceeded
  • Facilitated
  • Grew
  • Initiated
  • Launched
  • Optimized
  • Pioneered
  • Scaled
  • Spearheaded
  • Streamlined
  • Transformed

Examples of Resume Adverbs

  • Diligently
  • Exponentially
  • Independently
  • Meticulously
  • Progressively
  • Successfully
  • Tenaciously

2. Specify Key Tasks You Performed 

Key tasks are duties that are tied in with business goals and objectives. Use concrete language when describing key tasks to clarify how you provided value. 

Compare the two following resume sentences:

  • Handled customer inquiries.
  • Managed a high volume of customer inquiries via email and phone, providing timely and effective solutions.

See the difference? 

Both have the same meaning, but the latter resume sentence example specifies the exact situation the candidate dealt with. This highlights their skills to the hiring manager. 

Specify key tasks and responsibilities by writing about the exact situation you handled. It makes your startup experience on a resume look twice as powerful, especially because you’re working in a more fast-paced environment under pressure. 

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Startup Marketer

3. Mention Admin Job Responsibilities 

If you’ve had any experience in a startup, you’ve probably held multiple admin job responsibilities. 

Writing about admin tasks on a resume shows a degree of technical proficiency, which many companies value in candidates. So, use your startup experience to describe how you improved processes or resolved technical issues. 

Here are a few examples: 

  • Managed office logistics, including scheduling meetings, coordinating appointments, and overseeing office supplies, ensuring seamless day-to-day operations.
  • Handled travel arrangements, expense reports, and accommodation bookings for the executive team, optimizing travel efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
  • Streamlined document management by implementing a digital filing system, reducing retrieval time by 40%, and enhancing data accessibility for the team.
  • Resolved scheduling conflicts and optimized the calendar by implementing a shared calendar tool, resulting in a 25% reduction in double bookings.

4. Use Numbers to Specify What You Did

Having the exact numbers or data would be ideal. An estimated figure also works. Including an accurate estimate is better than nothing. 

Still completely unsure about the data? Then, skip this step. An alternative is to mention the goal or objective you worked towards. However, using numbers to specify the result or responsibility is ideal. 

Here’s how to use numbers on a resume: 

  • KPIs: Include metrics for specific achievements and outcomes. This includes percentages, dollar amounts, time saved, or other relevant figures. 
  • Baseline Numbers: Share a baseline or starting point that sets the context for the impact you made. 
  • Heavy Workload: Include a number to specify large volumes of work completed in a project. 

5. Focus on Job Achievements 

A list of job achievements in a previous role shows more about your skill level than writing about your to-do list. 

Achievements serve as a preview of the expertise you have to offer. The candidates capable of making a tangible difference are the types of workers hiring teams are keen to interview. 

Here are some examples of job achievements on a resume: 

  • Maintained a 99% accuracy rate in data entry tasks, minimizing errors and ensuring data integrity.
  • Achieved a 20% reduction in response time to customer inquiries, improving customer satisfaction.
  • Created an organized email management system, reducing email backlog by 30%.
  • Implemented inventory control measures that reduced overstock by 15% and stockouts by 10%.
  • Managed and updated company social media profiles, increasing online engagement by 25%.

Best Types of Job Achievements for Startups

  • Project Objectives: Reaching or exceeding the project goals and objectives.
  • Quality Assurance: Ensuring work meets quality standards and expectations.
  • Risk Management: Mitigating project risks to prevent issues and delays.
  • Budget Adherence: Staying within the allocated budget.
  • Cross-Functional Collaboration: Collaborating with cross-functional teams.
  • Timeline Adherence: Meeting deadlines and being timely at work.
  • Innovation: Unique solutions or ideas that lead to further company growth or competitiveness.
  • Client or User Feedback: Positive testimonials from clients or end-users.
  • Resource Management: Making the most use of project resources accordingly.
  • Documentation and Reporting: Creating project documentation and reports.
  • Problem Solving: Resolving complex roadblocks.
  • Knowledge Transfer: Sharing knowledge and best practices with fellow team members.
  • Compliance and Regulations: Meeting regulations and compliance standards.
  • Job Awards: Recognition of excellence as an employee or startup. 

6. Include Business Achievements  

The difference between job and business achievements is that the latter focuses on the bigger picture. This means looking at your impact across stakeholders and overall company goals or objectives. 

Let’s say you’re writing a mid-level marketing resume. 

You could mention project outcomes, like how you completed tasks ahead of deadlines and mentored new employees. Or, you could take it a step further by mentioning the project's impact on the company by bringing up revenue figures. 

Here are a few examples of business achievements on a resume: 

  • Generated $1.2 million in new business revenue through effective client relationship management and successful cross-selling of services, exceeding annual sales targets by 25%.
  • Increased website traffic by 50% within 6 months by optimizing SEO and implementing content marketing strategies, boosting online sales by $500,000.
  • Reduced customer wait times by 30% through process improvements, leading to a higher customer satisfaction rating of 95% and a 20% increase in repeat business.
  • Led a team of 10 engineers in completing a project 2 months ahead of schedule, saving the company $100,000 in development costs and enabling an earlier product launch.
  • Founded Rezi at the age of 22. At 23, successfully globalized into South Korea, growing to be South Korea's leading English resume company, the most awarded global startup in South Korea, and securing over $650,000 in investment, grants, and awards.

Best Business Achievements for Startups

  • Company Goals: Hitting or surpassing company targets. 
  • Revenue Growth: Increasing the startup's monthly or annual revenue. 
  • User Acquisition: Mention the number of new customers or users you brought in.
  • Cost Reduction: How you optimized processes to increase efficiency and savings. 
  • Team Productivity: Positively influencing the team's performance and productivity.
  • Funding and Investment: Raising funds for the startup and winning over investors.
  • Customer Satisfaction: Improving customer satisfaction or retention rates. 
  • Partnerships: Strategic partnerships you established.
  • Scalability: How you helped a startup become more scalable. 
  • Time Savings: Executing initiatives that save time, allowing you to focus on the more important tasks at hand.
  • Market Penetration: Entering new markets to expand the startup's reach. 

6. Mention the Timeframe of Results or Tasks 

Achieved something in less time than expected? Mention it by including a timeframe of the result. 

On top of saying that you helped a company achieve something like more website traffic, share how long it took to get those results. 

Here are a few examples: 

  • Secured $1.5 million in seed funding for the startup within a 6-month timeframe through strategic investor outreach and persuasive pitch presentations, enabling rapid growth and product development.
  • Tripled customer base from 10,000 to over 30,000 active users in 3 months by spearheading targeted email marketing campaigns, resulting in a 200% increase in monthly revenue.
  • Implemented cost-saving initiatives that led to a 15% reduction in operational expenses within the first 4 months of tenure.

7. Further Relevant Details 

The next step is to add further relevant detail by bringing up other factors involved in the task or achievement you’re writing about. 

Think of it as sharing the secondary factors of a core responsibility you carried out. 

If necessary, start another sentence within the same bullet point to expand on the primary task or achievement you want to highlight.

Here are a few examples: 

  • Analyzed data from 10,000+ monthly active clients on Salesforce, SAP, and Excel and used outputs to advise pricing and marketing strategies, helping sales representatives better understand their clients' needs and tailor their sales approach.
  • Assisted with identifying investment opportunities in the market, reviewed investment opportunities, and acted on the recommendations of the investment committee.
  • Selected into a Global Expansion Program in China, receiving funding and support from accelerator partner Hanwha. Exploring territory in Beijing and Shanghai, extending company reach to universities, recruiters, and incubators.

8. Don’t Forget About Collaboration Skills 

Being able to work at a fast pace requires good collaboration skills. 

Writing about tasks, projects, or accomplishments you were solely responsible for is ideal. But what’s also ideal is showing that you’re a team player. 

Here are a few things to write about on a resume to show collaboration skills: 

  • Mentoring new employees
  • Successful group projects
  • Cooperating with different departments
  • Working closely with a particular person such as the content manager or CEO
  • Implementing given feedback
  • Building rapport with clients and customers 

Or, you could start a resume bullet point with an action verb that indicates how you worked with other team members. The words “collaborated” and “liaised” are good examples.

Here are a few more resume sentence examples to highlight your ability to collaborate: 

  • Collaborated seamlessly with cross-functional teams, including product development, marketing, and sales, to ensure alignment and successful product launches.
  • Promoted knowledge sharing within the startup by conducting internal training sessions and workshops, fostering a culture of continuous learning.
  • Identified and cultivated strategic partnerships with other startups and industry stakeholders, enhancing collaboration opportunities and expanding the company's network

9. Edit Your Resume for Job Description Keywords

Job description keywords are essential for getting past the applicant tracking systems

Companies use applicant tracking systems to assess large volumes of applications and find qualified candidates. This is based on whether or not your resume matches the company’s job description. 

To match the job description, you need resume keywords

Let’s say you’re applying for a startup marketing position. On the company’s job description, you may find sentences similar to the following: 

  • Develop and execute innovative digital marketing campaigns to drive brand awareness and customer acquisition through various channels, including social media, email marketing, and content marketing.
  • Analyze marketing data and performance metrics to identify trends and opportunities, optimize marketing strategies for better ROI, and report regularly to stakeholders.
  • Collaborate closely with the sales team to generate and nurture leads, create sales-enablement materials, and develop marketing strategies that align with sales goals and objectives.

Keywords are the words related to the core responsibilities of your role. That said, here are potential keywords for each job description sentence above: 

  • Digital marketing, campaigns, brand awareness, customer acquisition, social media, email marketing, content marketing.
  • Marketing data analysis, performance metrics, trends, ROI optimization, reporting, stakeholders.
  • Sales collaboration, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales enablement, marketing strategies, sales goals.

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Keyword Targeting

10. Tailor Your Resume Based on Company Pain Points

Take your resume up a notch by tailoring it to the company’s needs. 

Write resume bullet points that prove you can solve the problems that the company is looking to solve. Make it clear that you’re the person with the specific expertise they need to help them reach their goals and objectives. 

For example, instead of just writing the following: 

  • Managed product development from concept to launch, ensuring adherence to timelines and budget constraints.
  • Led a small team in a fast-paced startup environment, ensuring project deadlines were consistently met.

Tailor it to the company’s needs by refining the resume sentences like so: 

  • Orchestrated the end-to-end product development process, consistently delivering high-quality products ahead of schedule which led to substantial cost savings of 20% below budget, enabling the company to seize market opportunities swiftly.
  • Led a small team of 6, consistently meeting project deadlines by implementing efficient workflows and proactive communication strategies to streamline project delivery. 

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Feel like the sentence you wrote could be better? Optimize it by highlighting the bullet point and using our AI Bullet Point Editor to rewrite it for you. 

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Bullet point editor

The Best Startup Skills to Showcase on a Resume

The top startup skills to write about on a resume that’s applicable to almost all job seekers include the following:

  • Adaptability
  • Critical thinking
  • Data Analysis
  • Digital Marketing
  • Project Management
  • Stakeholder Communication

Tip: While the below skills are universally applicable, select the ones that are most relevant to the job description you’re applying for! 

Examples of the Best Startup Hard Skills

  • Programming Languages: Technical proficiency in programming languages such as Python, Java, JavaScript, and C++. 
  • Data Analysis: Your ability to analyze data and form actionable insights to improve decision-making. 
  • Project Management: Organizing multiple things at once. You could also include tools for this such as Asana, ClickUp, and Trello.
  • Digital Marketing: The ability to promote a product or service to a target audience. This could include particular areas such as content marketing, SEO, and social media. 
  • Financial Modeling: Monitoring costs and forecasting revenue. 
  • Research: Good research skills are paramount to all startups. This includes competitor research, interviews, market research, and product research.

Examples of the Best Startup Soft Skills

  • Adaptability: The ability to meet arising needs or challenges in a timely manner. 
  • Critical Thinking: Analyzing potential risks and opportunities to put together an effective strategy.  
  • Teamwork: Cooperating with team members to ensure success. 
  • Stakeholder Communication: Liaising with various stakeholders such as customers and investors. 
  • Leadership: Taking the initiative to lead projects with minimal supervision. 
  • Problem-Solving: Finding new ways and methods to solve a complex problem. 

Why Companies Value Startup Experience on a Resume

Hiring managers value candidates with a positive track record and strong work ethic who can take the initiative. 

Qualities such as self-motivation and creativity are also desirable. 

Above all, startup experience shows you can work in a flexible environment and take on more responsibilities when needed. 

Use startup experience on a resume to stand out from other candidates by focusing on the following:

  • Career Storytelling: Tell a story by describing what you did and the context of your role. Highlight your challenges, how you faced those, and the outcomes achieved. 
  • Results-Oriented Approach: Emphasize accomplishments by highlighting the results of a task you carried out. Prioritize business achievements you were significantly responsible for. 

These are things that hiring teams love to see in candidates with startup experience. A few more of the main things they would love to see include the following:

  • Practical and diverse skill set
  • Self-driven character
  • Full ownership and accountability
  • Entrepreneurial mindset
  • Experience in fast-paced environments 
  • Industry knowledge
  • Team player

Practical and Diverse Skill Set

Show that you have practical skills and expertise in specific areas. Make it clear that your skill set extends to other key tasks, not just your main job responsibilities. 

  • Practical Experience: Focus on core work responsibilities that you had hands-on experience with. Use the right action verb that depicts how you directly contributed to a meaningful outcome. 
  • Diverse Skill Sets: Startup workers often wear multiple hats, which means they gain a wide range of skills and experiences. For example, admin and leadership abilities. Both of these are transferable skills to almost every job position. 

Self-Driven Character

Personality traits typically matter more to startups who are considering their next hire. They need someone committed to helping them hit the ground running. That said, a work history of startup experience means you’ve demonstrated some desirable traits. 

Here are a few examples:  

  • Ambitious
  • Customer-centric focus
  • Humility
  • Resilience
  • Optimism
  • Resourcefulness

Full Ownership and Accountability

Companies want candidates who take full ownership of their roles. This is especially true in startup environments since workers typically have more autonomy. 

Now, this doesn’t mean taking full responsibility for whether the startup fails. That’s ultimately the fault of those in executive job positions. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t adopt a similar mindset. 

Startup experience allows you to show that you’re the type of person to go above and beyond. You can highlight that you care about the company’s overall success by showing that you take full accountability and contribute to the overall business strategy. 

Entrepreneurial Mindset 

An entrepreneurial mindset is often shown by workers in startups. Here are some main qualities that startup employees can emphasize:

  • Innovation: Coming up with new ways to reach goals and objectives. 
  • Risk-Taker: Identifying potential consequences and taking calculated risks.  
  • Self-Starter: Being driven and ambitious enough to take the lead. 

Most companies value a culture of innovation and growth. Highlighting any of these qualities can help you stand out in a competitive job market. 

Experienced in Fast-Paced Environments 

Working in fast-paced environments requires a few things: 

  • Adaptability: Wear multiple hats and adjust when needed. 
  • Time Management: The ability to organize your schedule and prioritize your workload. 
  • Handling Pressure: Completing tasks to a good standard despite the pressure of deadlines and customer expectations. 

It’s not out of the ordinary for startup environments to feel chaotic. Being able to work your way through the chaos is telling of your character and adds to your unique selling points as a candidate. 

Industry Knowledge 

The advantage startup companies have over big companies is that they’re quicker to adapt to trends. But, adapting to those trends and consumer sentiments requires industry knowledge in the first place. 

Your advantage from having startup experience in the industry is that you understand what it takes to grow from scratch. Even if the startup failed, you’ll understand why it failed. These lessons can be translated into the company you’re applying to for further success. 

Team Player 

Team players are those who can cooperate with colleagues, contribute skills or ideas, and communicate openly to meet company objectives. 

Whether it’s a small company with a small team or a large company with multiple departments, the ability to work as a team is always going to be an important skill.  

Use Cover Letters When You Don’t Have Enough Space On a Resume

Cover letters are an option when you don’t have enough space to talk about everything on a resume. 

After all, resumes should only include what’s most relevant to the job description. 

It makes sense to list all startup experience on a resume when you’re applying for a startup company. If that’s not the case and you’re applying to a large company but have startup experience, then only include what’s most relevant to the job description. 

If you’re interested in writing a cover letter to expand on certain details, check out our cover letter writing guide here. 

Use Startup Experience to Stand Out in a Competitive Job Market

Startup experience on a resume gives you more room to talk about job responsibilities directly tied to company growth. 

And business achievements you were solely or significantly responsible for are impressive to any company looking to make their next hire. Whether your efforts helped secure funding from investors or scale customer growth, these are things that can make your application stand out. 

If you’d like to try our AI resume builder to speed up the process of creating tailored resumes, you can sign up here at resumA.I. for free

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