Startup Jobs: The Hottest Industries and Roles Right Now


Startup recruiting patterns give us a glimpse into what the most innovative people and companies in the world are interested in right now. Using these trends, we can predict what services, products, and business models are likely to shape our lives in the near future. We can also estimate how demand for certain skills will evolve over time. 

As a job seeker, it’s important to keep tabs on these developments so that you can position yourself well for the next great opportunity whenever it arises. In this post, we look at which industries are rife with startup disruption and highlight the roles that are most important to today’s startup leaders. With this knowledge, you can adapt your professional development efforts and home in on exciting sectors that want top-notch talent. 

What Industries are Hiring?
There are several ways to identify which industries offer the best opportunities for startup job seekers.

First, we can look at the list of the world’s most valuable startups, AKA “unicorns,” to see what services and business models are most prominently represented today. In 2019, there were 393 private companies across 15 categories valued at more than $1B. Of those, 12% operated in the Fintech sector, the biggest category. After Fintech, the next largest categories were Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet services & software, and E-commerce.

We can also look at what types of startups are most valuable in terms of their funding and profitability. From CB Insights’ research, we know that Bytedance (AI), Didi Chuxing (transportation), JUUL Labs (consumer products), WeWork (co-working), and Airbnb (travel) were the most valuable companies in the world last year. 

Although not startup-focused, IBISWorld published findings on the fastest-growing industries based on 2019-2020 revenue growth, which is also helpful to consider. Unsurprisingly, online grocery sales and over-the-counter cold medicine sales led the pack due to consequences of the pandemic. 3D printing, online pet supplies, and hydraulic fracturing services rounded out the top five. 

Keep in mind that value doesn’t always translate into demand for talent. With modern technology, companies can scale to astronomical heights with small teams.

Fortunately, one VC firm in Silicon Valley sent out a Google Form in April asking startups about their hiring needs during the pandemic. Nearly 180 companies indicated that they wanted to join a job board and bring on new employees. Startups focused on developing enterprise technology (50%), consumer technology (30%), and healthcare solutions (15%) were the best represented among respondents.

Pulling out the key theme, technology plays a big role in many of the fastest-growing and most valuable industries today. Now let’s dive into the specific skills that startups want.

What Skills are in Demand?
At a high level, the most in-demand talent today is technical talent. Tech and non-tech startups everywhere are trying to fill technical roles in order to develop new applications, leverage modern cloud technologies, strengthen IT security, and enhance customer experiences.  

More specifically, software engineers are the most sought after. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the demand for software developers will grow 22% between 2019 and 2029. Outside of software engineering, programming, platform design, web and mobile development, and quality assurance professionals are also in high demand. 

Recruiting for data scientists is also increasing at an alarming rate, given the abundance of data that needs processing today. Companies of all sizes are ramping up big data capabilities and leveraging machine learning models to discover valuable insights. In this infographic from Quanthub, we can see that data science job postings far outweigh job searchings for data science roles. The site estimates that we currently have a shortage of 250,000 data science professionals compared to hiring needs.

Outside of software engineering and data science, operations and sales talent are still crucial. Startups have to improve customer retention, increase operational efficiencies, and outsell competitors to stay afloat. Many businesses also need search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) talent to increase their online footprints for the digital age.

Where to go From Here
We hope this post can help you refine your job search strategy and inform how you should invest your time in the coming years. Although landing a job at a startup isn’t easy, we believe there is ample opportunity for hard-working and talented people. 

To maximize your chances of getting hired, consider building out your skill set around one of the industries or roles mentioned above. When you’re ready, give us a call and we’ll find you the job of your dreams :)

Startup Jobs: The Hottest Industries and Roles Right Now

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