The Top Job Roles in Tech That Aren’t Web Developer

Startup roles

Sometimes it feels like, if you studied computer science or software engineering in college, you can pretty much be handed a job contract at an awesome company upon graduation. I won’t lie and say that web developers aren’t in high demand, because they absolutely are— you only need to look at some of the salaries that graduates are being offered by tech giants like Snapchat, Facebook and Google to see that. However, one search for startup jobs on AngelList and it’s clear that programming skills are not the only requirement or need for landing a job at a startup.

Without further ado, I present you with the top startup roles that aren’t web development:

1) Product Designer:

Product design is one of the most in-demand startup roles across the US. Design is such an important part of a customer’s decision to purchase something. It’s one of the greatest non-price factors that can determine the success of a product. This means if two items are for sale at a similar price, a customer will chose to purchase the item with the better design. When making an important purchasing decision, how many times have you said to yourself “I’m going to choose that item because it looks awful.” I’m going to go out on a limb here and say not many.

Startup companies need product designers to turn their highly technical inventions into beautiful, sleek digital experiences that people want to engage with. Depending on the product, design can cover several different categories including visual/ graphic design, web design and industrial design. Each of these specializations require slight variations on a core skill set which centers around artistic talent and the ability to communicate effectively with others. A product designer may have some or all of these skill sets.

Visual/ graphic design:

  • Knowledge of digital tools such as Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Acrobat
  • Good listening and verbal communication skills
  • Artistic talent

Web design:

  • Coding languages such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) skills
  • Good listening and verbal communication skills
  • Artistic talent

Industrial design:

  • Design thinking, ideation and prototyping skills
  • Materials and production process knowledge
  • Good listening and verbal communication skills
  • Artistic talent
Product #design turns high-tech #innovation into something that customers want to use -… Click To Tweet

2) Marketer:

Marketing is essential to the growth and success of a new company. This is because in essence, the role of marketing is to identify and target the individuals who would consider purchasing a business’ offering.

In this day and age, marketing is all about the digital. Both early-stage and high-growth startups use social media marketing, content marketing and paid advertising to get their name and brand out to the masses. Let’s take a look at these different segments of marketing, and what skills are required for each. A technical marketer may have some or all of these skills sets.

Social media marketing:

  • Mastery in platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn
  • Ability to track online engagement with tools such as Google Analytics, Hootsuite and Salesforce
  • Strong communication skills and an engaging writing style

Content marketing:

  • Editorial, creation, and curation skills
  • Multi-channel content planning
  • Expertise in search engine optimization (SEO) skills

Paid advertising:

  • Ability to strategically use paid platforms such as Google AdWords, and Facebook
  • Landing page generation
  • SEO skills
#Startup #marketing is about getting in front of customer in a cost-effective way says @moniquelees Click To Tweet

3) Community Manager:

Community management is all about working alongside people to build and grow a group of followers that believe in a company’s mission. This community consists not just of internal staff and customers, but also like-minded companies that act as sponsors, partners and collaborators.

Community managers need to be masters of all trades and personality types. They need to be out and about in the community as the face of the company, networking and building meaningful connections. One of the most important aspects of this role is advocating for the voice of the customer. It is the community manager’s role to understand any frustrations or concerns a customer has with the product/ service and to work alongside the company to fix these. Because of this, community managers need a thick skin and excellent communication skills – both verbal, and written. As well as this, due to their close relationships with the customers, community managers will often support the marketing team to advise on the company’s content strategy.

#CommunityManagers need to be masters of all trades, and all personality types, says @monique_lees Click To Tweet

4) Salesperson:

The growth of a startup is hugely reliant on it’s ability to sell. A company could develop the most amazing tech tool in history, but if no-one buys it the company won’t survive very long. In recent times sales has been given a bit of a bad rap by millennials who see this role as unappealing or “un-cool”. However this means people with good sales skills are in higher demand than ever before!

Sales is all about building relationships. Sales people need to be personable, empathetic and curious in order to build rapport with customers and gain their trust. However there is a dark side to sales: rejection. The ability to remain motivated and resilient in the face of rejection is what really makes a great sales person stand out from the pack. This isn’t about being pushy or manipulative — two qualities people often negatively associate with sales people. Instead it’s about having perspective, learning from customers and continuously believing in the company and its offering.

Without the ability to #sell, a #startup company wouldn't survive long, says @monique_lees Click To Tweet

Which role suits you?

It’s true that web developer is the most coveted of startup roles. And, at a young company where all hands are always on deck, there’s no telling when a bit of code in your toolbox might come in handy. Skilling up on Codecademy, Treehouse, or in programming classes can only boost your value as an employee at an innovative company, no matter what your role. If the idea of re-training to become a software engineer or web developer makes you feel slightly nauseous, not to worry. Keep in mind that startup companies will always need more than just a team of developers to grow. When considering startup roles, think about the skills you have already, and how these can be adapted to one of the positions mentioned above. Go to networking events and to talk with as many people as possible. Learn what they do, what kind company they work for, and what their career journey has been so far. You never know where your next job opportunity might come from.

Looking to learn the skills startup companies hire for? We offer eight-week courses in technical marketing, web design, sales and account account management, and web development. Join us to kick-start a career you love. Download our course guide, below:


Picture credit: StartupStockPhotos via Pixabay cc

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The Top Job Roles in Tech That Aren’t Web Developer have 6 comments

  1. May 5, 2015 @ 8:41 am Sasha

    Hey, what about a Product Manager or a Project Manager? Or a Scrum Master? Isn’t it widespread in startups? Don’t startups look for these roles? Just curious, because I am a project manager / scrum master and love innovation.


  2. May 6, 2015 @ 11:01 am Scott

    Great post! I’m a little biased to say the least (this sort of ties in with Community Manager), but I think the role of customer marketer is becoming increasingly important at startups. When brand awareness is minimal, nothing is more valuable than having your happy customers sharing your story for you. In order to drive pipeline and close deals, especially if you’re in a new space that isn’t a line item in the budget, social proof is going to be far more convincing than the best sales rep or EBook. I think every high growth startup can benefit from having an army of customers spreading the word, sending referrals and giving feedback etc. Customer marketers should be able engage your advocates to promote this activity.


    • May 6, 2015 @ 5:46 pm Christine Zimmermann

      Totally agree, Scott. One of the interesting things about working in startups is that, company-to-company, the same role never seems to be defined quite the same twice. I probably would include customer marketer under the umbrella of community management, but it is also the task of a marketer to activate brand evangelists. Does your company also have community managers? If so, how does this role differ?


  3. May 24, 2015 @ 1:53 am Nick

    Thanks for sharing, how does a sales person begin working with start ups?


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