Ted Ko, lead on digital product at ROOM.com, transitioned from being CEO of a startup that didn’t work out to taking a job. He observed, “Having been in a founder role, it was difficult for me to surface conversations at first. I’ve had to really shift my resume/LinkedIn to going back to a specialized Designer (not generalized) role. Once I did that, it seemed like conversations and intros were starting to stick.”
Some ideas for founders:
- Join an established enterprise. Vegard Medbo, co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer, Antler, observes, “We see that many of those that join large corporates (as the paychecks can be very attractive and corporates are desperately looking for entrepreneurial people to help them transform) quickly look for other alternatives. The pace is slower; they’re often restricted on what they can get through vs. what they are used to; and there is often more politics, which can take the passion out of someone who is motivated by innovating and bringing change. So choose carefully which corporate you decide to join and do thorough diligence.“
- Join a startup. We suggest start by reviewing the portfolios of active VCs in your space for portfolio companies that are hiring and value your entrepreneurial experience. A few people offer curated lists of companies which are particularly good places to build your career, e.g., the Wealthfront Career-Launching Companies List.
- Go to startup Demo Days, a convenient opportunity to learn about firms in your space that are actively hiring.
- Go to AngelList and Crunchbase and look for teams working on issues similar to your area of expertise. If you love the team and traction, you can pitch them to join them as an advisor or cofounder. The statistics are clear that most startups fail. If the person’s startup also fails, then the founders will be in the same boat as you and you’ll be able to share notes on logical next moves.
- Hire a talent agent for business people, e.g., FreeAgency.com or Labtuit. These are the equivalent of talent agents for entertainers. You contract to pay them a percentage of your first-year compensation, at no fixed cost to you. They help you find the employer who will pay you the most.
- Hire a negotiating agent. Negotiation of compensation only gets more complex as your career path becomes more unusual. You may find helpful Earner or RivaHQ, which specifically help you optimize your compensation structure. GetRaised helps you find out if you’re underpaid and get the right raise, for free.
- Join a community of people seeking their next role. For example, Teal and Propel provide career services, community, and tools to help professionals in their careers.
- Consider working in politics or advising NGOs. Major policy / political organizations of all stripes are looking to become more digitally savvy. InclusiveAmerica is a database of underrepresented people interested in serving in politically appointed positions. If you tilt right, see ConservativeJobs.com. If you tilt left, All Hands is a resume bank focused on tech talent that wants to work for progressive/liberal goals. Tech for Campaigns matches volunteers from the tech world — engineers, data scientists, product managers, marketing pros — with Democratic campaigns in need of a winning digital strategy.