One of the mantras of the current labour market is that, despite high unemployment, the war for talent is still being bitterly fought. Captains of industry complain about the difficulty of recruiting good people, that competition for the best and brightest has never been greater.
That may be so in the highest echelons, but at the Career Advice Centre we meet many highly talented people who still struggling to get a job. Increasingly they are turning their backs on their old careers and looking to take their skills and abilities into new areas. They are looking in particular at start ups.
The start up world is buoyant at the moment. It is still not easy to get funding but there is plenty of support out there for entrepreneurs who are willing to bootstrap their businesses, to invest their time and resources for little or no remuneration to get the enterprise off the ground and prove its viability. It is to these start ups that many highly talented people are turning.
The benefits for both sides are clear. The startups get to recruit people with extensive business and professional experience. And the individuals have an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a new business with exciting prospects.
Of course, if you are thinking of joining a start up, there are a few things you need to do. Most importantly, you need to be persuaded that the business will succeed. This means doing due diligence on the business idea, the market and the business founders. Fortunately social media makes it so much easier to check people out, and there are many websites dedicated to start ups which will give you a good idea of who else is in the same competitive space.
You also need to think about the impact on your CV if the startup ultimately does not succeed. Most new businesses fail; that's only to be expected, but you need to think seriously about whether you will be damaging your future prospects if you go and work for a company that does not make it. And of course you need to consider whether you can really survive on the salary (or lack of one) that a start up is likely to be able to afford.
But you should also look at the positives. Joining a start up at an early stage means that its future success will depend heavily on your input. Do you believe in the business and the people you will be working with? Can you see what difference you can make? Do you feel positive and excited?
The UK economy is changing. Many of today's startups will be major players in a few years time. And not every established business will survive. Joining a start up may be the best thing you ever do. Or it may be an unmitigated disaster! It's not for the faint hearted. But if you are courageous, if you believe in the business and if you have done your due diligence well, it could be a far better option than hanging around waiting for a job to come along that's not much different to the once you were made redundant from, last time round.