What’s More Important Than Experience? These 10 traits will help you excel at a start-up.

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Ariel Lopez is a career coach and entrepreneur with an expertise in digital media and technology.  She has experience hiring marketing, advertising, and tech professionals for some of the world’s most known brands like Amazon to emerging start- ups. She is the founder of 2020Shift, a social enterprise designed to expose minority college students and recent grads to careers in AdTech. Her motto is turning passion into profit and helping others to do the same!

Education is important. Experience is better. The right character, however, is necessary.  Regardless of what school you went to, or how many years you’ve been in your field, employers are looking for the right personality traits.  After working with a ton of startups and major brands, there seems to be a consensus in what’s preferred. Below is a list of 10 of the top characteristics that can take your career from good to amazing:

1. Passion

Passion is an important characteristic that hiring managers look for in potential employees. (Passion for the company, passion for the product, passion for the people, passion for themselves.) Passion can’t be taught; it’s completely innate and has a huge effect on work ethic. When you care about what you do, you do a better job.

2. A Sense of Humor

You spend 40+ hours a week at work, so it’s best to make it as enjoyable as possible. People want to work around co-workers that can provide comic relief without being a distraction. Don’t be the person to send pointless cat videos all day (yeah, don’t do that), but do get out there and show your personality; you’ll be appreciated for it.

3. Discipline

Routine is essential when it comes to doing business efficiently. Not saying that everyday has to be the same, no one wants to live a monotonous life, but there should be some type of schedule when it comes to how you get things done. When speaking to a potential employer, make sure you’re able to clearly articulate how you structure your day and emphasize your organizational skills.

4. Humility

No one likes a know-it-all and, most importantly, employers want to know that you’re coachable. Take responsibility for your actions when you make mistakes; be open to criticism, and don’t boast your accomplishments.

5. Loyalty

This is particularly why your past experience is so important. No one wants to hire someone they think will leave in six months. Hiring managers will spend lots of time contemplating your tenure at different places making sure you’re not a “jumper”. It’s not as easy as times have changed, what used to be a 5-10 year average of employment at a company is now 2-3 years. If you’ve jumped around, make sure you anticipate this response and be able to craft a believable story.

6. Self-Motivation

Often you’ll see job descriptions looking for someone that’s a “self starter” or “motivated.” There’s a reason why. With business transactions moving at a fast pace, you need someone that can keep up and, preferably, with little instruction. The best employees are those that take initiative and foresee challenges before they happen.  Make sure you’re always thinking one step ahead.

7. Leadership

As cliché as this trait is, it’s probably one of the most important. When you start a new position you should always consider your track of progression and how you can become more of a leader within your role. Even if you don’t end up managing other people, you should still exude leadership in everything that you do. From individual tasks to group projects, make sure you’re being proactive and positioning yourself to take the lead role.

8. Execution

Ideas without action are just ideas. No one in business cares about how charismatic or persuasive you are if you aren’t able to follow through. You need to make sure you have action items for every goal you set and project you start. Not only does successful execution help your reputation, but it helps you build a case to ask for promotions and other incentives.

9. Determination

You’ll be challenged with a lot of things throughout your career; your ability to persevere says a lot about your character. If you look at leaders within any organization, they’ve all failed. The difference is that they were able to keep going. To make sure you have continued success it’s important to learn from your losses and stay focused in reaching your end goal.

10. Positivity

Who wants to be around a negative Nancy all day?! The people that constantly complain about their jobs, and don’t have a positive attitude, usually don’t progress very far. Every person you meet with should walk off feeling better for getting the opportunity to get to know you. Make sure that your energy is bright and infectious. Smile often, show your personality, crack a joke—make yourself memorable.


Interested in working at a start-up?

Attend the Diversity at StartUps Event  (Hosted by 2020Shift at Varick Street Incubator in BK)

Clear your calendar – It’s going down! Diversity at StartUps kicks off on April 15th, and you’re invited! 137 Varick Street (2nd Floor) is our meeting spot for a candid discussion on diversity and startup life. Hear from our panelists on how they’ve navigated their way in the industry and how you can accelerate your career.

RSVP and MORE INFO (Including panelist info) VIA BELOW LINK: