More and more jobseekers are beginning to realise that they do not necessarily work in a large corporate company, careers at startups and young businesses have their own uniqueness and charm about them. But if you are considering joining a startup, here is a simple guide that will help you choose the best startup to work at!

If you want to start your own business someday

It may be more relevant for you to join an early stage startup. An early stage startup is one that may or may not already have a ready product, is going through market validation, and processes are barely present. If you join a company at this stage of its journey, you will literally be able to see how to setup a brand new business.

But how do you choose which early stage startup to join? You look at two things.

First, with no company brand, you look at the “brand” of the founder. Are these credible people who have previously been involved in other startups, or are they learning the ropes themselves? Do you believe they have the strength and maturity to see this through? It’s important to note that startups at this stage are higher risk from an employment perspective, but if you have the right founders driving the startup, the experience of going through that journey with them would be priceless if you wanted to start your own business someday.

Second, look at the idea and the vision. Is this something that you can relate to? Do you believe it will work? The success of any business lies in the execution of it’s ideas. But if you don’t believe in the idea right from the start, you’re probably better off trying something different.

If you want to be play a role in shaping the culture of the workplace

Perhaps a startup that has a small team (say between 5 to 20 people) is the place for you. Startups have this stage are a bit more stable, are financially sound, and the teams are still small enough that it’s easy to feel like a family. These guys have a balance of still being exciting enough when it comes to evolving and changing quickly, and at the same time, there is some stability so you can have a breather every now and then.

No politics, and genuine friendships really make such a startup happy places to work in. Startups like this are typically big on office bonding.

If you like a young and fun startup environment, but you still want to work for a big branded company

The first thing you need to realise that many large companies still consider themselves a startup, and these companies are either still going through immense growth, or have a very welcoming attitude to change. How do you determine if which of these larger established companies still work like a startup?

You can look at a few things. When was the company established? Some startups go through rapid growth and have become big over a short period of time, but at the core, they still behave like a startup. Who are the leaders of the business? Are they young and hungry? And what’s the environment like inside the company? Some telltale signs include whether their employees are in suit and tie, and the average age of the workforce.

Each company has it’s own story, most of the time, that’s not something you can find on their website, a lot of what you find there are just very well crafted statements that came from their marketing department. To really know what happens inside a company, dig a bit deeper, ask around, and watch interviews with some of their people, not just the founders, so you can have a feel of the culture in the office.

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Posted by Derek Toh

Derek is the founder and CEO of WOBB.CO. He was part of the pioneer batch for the Stanford-MaGIC Entrepreneurship Program, and is also a mentor for McKinsey & Company's Youth Leadership Academy. Derek is on a mission to revolutionise work culture in Asia. He cares about initiatives that improve education and the talent market. Derek is also a big fan of superhero movies, and has been told that he drinks too much coffee during the day.