AngelList, the platform that connects startups, investors, and job-seekers began life in 2010 as a mailing list before the founders, Naval Ravikant and Babak Nivi, morphed it into the website that many in the startup community now use on a weekly, if not daily, basis. One of the popular use cases has become looking for a new job.
I have used a number of online tools to research companies and keep my eye on opportunities over the years — the awful CareerBuilder, the woeful Monster, and the better LinkedIn — but it was right around the time that AngelList “got serious” that I started using it as a job search resource back in 2010 (when first considering departing Corporate America).
In the last few months I entered into a more focused job search, and while I still used LinkedIn, 80% of my effort was focused on AngelList. This was mainly due to the fact that I was looking for a job in an early stage or startup company, so AngelList was an obvious place to start.
Now I am at the end of my search, having started a new job at Redbooth this week, I thought it would be useful to share what I learned using AngelList as a job search tool. I was also inspired to codify my experiences when I read “A Signal for Emerging Startup Communities” on the Boundary Conditions blog.
So here’s what I learned.
1. More transparency around what you’ll earn, and how much stock you’ll receive
Most job listings (all?) include information about cash and stock compensation. It’s refreshing to have some transparency in the technology job marketplace. My wife, a doctor, often quizzes me on why jobs I am discussing have little or no indication about compensation and my “that’s the way it is” response is clearly unsatisfactory. In the medical world it’s far more common to have salaries listed on the job description that is posted.
Unfortunately, we haven’t yet achieved true transparency. This is because most companies on AngelList opt for a spread, both for cash and stock. It was quite common for me to see a marketing role that offered cash comp of $70-$125k and stock of 0-2%. Obviously this spread is very wide, and I suspect this can actually make things harder for companies as most candidates will expect to come in at the top end of any range, whether this is realistic or not.
2. The cash compensation listed can be “aspirational” (aka not real)
While there is transparency, I ran into multiple companies who had posted a salary, but in our first discussion they made it clear that the salary depended on a future funding event that might be many months away. At least they made this clear early on in the conversation, but I think the posting should make this explicit. It’s nice if you can work for stock only, but I am not so fortunate.
3. Some roles are stale
I also encountered a number of “stale” job listings. This probably happens for three reasons.
First, the job is filled, but not removed. I know of at least one instance where this happened as a friend of mine filled a role some weeks back.
Second, the startup is evolving so quickly that a role that once existed no longer does, yet no one has the time to take the listing off.
Thirdly, and a little more sinister, having jobs listed creates an aura of success for investors and job-seekers alike. I have known CEOs deliberately post bogus job descriptions, again part of the fake-it-till-you-make-it school of thought.
The good news is that if you spend a few weeks on the site looking for a role, you will come to recognize the companies you want to steer clear of. However, it would be nice if AngelList implemented a “days on AngelList” metric, similar to those used on real estate websites.
4. Access to Founders
One of the coolest things about my experience was near-immediate access to Founders. Sure, it’s not that hard to figure out how to connect with a founder (firstname.lastname@example.org usually does it) but it was nice to inquire about a job and have a CEO or Founder get back to you. It really lets you cut through a lot of BS and very quickly assess the fit for a role.
Overall, my experience with AngelList was great. I have heard mixed things about it as a funding platform, but for the job search use case, it gets a thumbs up.