For young-spirited Millennials, working at startup seems to be a tantalizing idea. Fun and casual work environment, option to work remotely, and great opportunity for rapid development are among the perks offered by startup to attract top candidates. Chances are, these are also the reasons why you are seeking to work for such newly-built company. Moreover, as a fresh graduate, you want to get hired really soon and many startups are looking for entry-level employees like you. In short, you want a job, and startup opens its door with pretty perks inside.
On the contrary, Robert Half survey showed that 8 out of 10 professional candidates prefer to work in a structured, stable and established company. More than half (60 percent) respondents are willing to work in midsize firms because it is more structured, stable, and has plenty room to innovation. The career growth and culture in these organisations are also better than startups. Additionally, 5 percent mentioned that it has better earning potential. In the same survey, only 24 percent candidates said they want to apply in large firm while 16 percent others are willing to try startup.
According to Forbes, factors why people try to ‘avoid’ startup is due to its high rate of failure. Nine in ten (90 percent) of startup will likely to fail within the second or third year. This means that if you want to work at a startup, you need to consider few things before signing the deal. Rich Hein as cited in CIO has shared 10 things you should ask yourself before accepting a startup job:
- Do you expect standard hiring process?
Unlike other stable company, startup will likely conduct their own hiring process. Each startup might adopt a hiring process that might differ from one to another. Some will be held in formal style such as table conference with 2 or more hiring candidates. Meanwhile, some others will conduct the job interview in a café with informal environment.
- Which one you love more, home or office?
The typical startup environment is fast. The work environment requires you to work as best as possible. That’s why startup offers more perks like snacks, free foods, onsite gym, and others to make it enjoyable for employees to work at the office. These perks and benefits are also used to create a good collaboration and innovation within company. Fortunately, you’ll enjoy staying in the office. Unfortunately, you might have to spend less time with family at home. And if you are all about work-life balance, you might find this point challenging.
- Can you fit in the corporate culture?
Culture is a key indicator to show you how much you’ll love the job. As mentioned, startup has long hours of work and great sense of community. It is good if you can see past review from the previous employees, or whether you have an insider to tell you about the culture in your targeted startup.
As an advice, “You can schedule your interview after 6 p.m. any day but Friday. Carefully observe the energy, body language, and collaboration happening with the non-executive employees. Do people look happy at work and is there a buzz around the office, or is it really quiet and most people have already left?” Therefore, you should pay better attention about the officevibe.
- Watch for red flags
While doing your observation, you should also openly ask yourself: Are you going to take over someone’s role? How long was that person there? How did she/he leave? What is the drastic change in the company? These questions can lead you to an answer whether you should stay or drop out of the hiring process. Moreover, you should look closely at shift or changes in strategic direction of the company rather than personnel. Because oftentimes, investors insist upon changing staff to make companies stronger.
- How much compensation you want?
Startup normally does not pay their employees higher than big firm. But still, there are opportunities for you to get bigger payment in the future. Hence, if you are not committed to the product or service that the startup provides, then you might need to reconsider about working at the company. Unless, you have your own motivation other than money.
- Have you measured the risks and rewards of joining early-stage startup?
Early-stage startup is typically riskier as you do not know whether the consumer will stay or the investor will invest for longer term. Yet, if you are lucky enough, joining in early-stage startup gives you better opportunity to make big impact with greater rewards. And if you join a little later, you can assume less risk with less compensation.
- How is the potential success of the product and service?
Now, to consider number 5, you can conduct a research of the product and service the company offers. Look at the target market that the startup’s product or service is in. For example, if they are developing mobile app, what do you think about the competitor? Do they already have customers or are struggling to get one? At this point, you need to be critical. Ask possible questions regarding the startup’s success rate. Just like if you are building your own company, that’s how you should foresee potential victory in targeted startup.
- Who are the investors?
If you are new to startup environment, you might want to see who the biggest investor for a startup is. Startup funding does not only cover company’s immediate needs, but also long-term funding prospects. If your dream startup gets funding from successful venture capital like Sequoia Capital or Bain Capital, there could be possibility that the startup will survive. As big venture capital will go through long selection and vetting process to strong contender in market.
How will you know the investor? It is okay to ask directly where startup funding is coming from and how long it will last to the founders. Usually, great leader will gladly share their secret behind success. This conversation will also help reduce your doubt during the selection process.
- Who is the founder?
You sure want to know for whom you are working with. By knowing the founder of startup, you can calculate the company’s success in the future. You can rely on Google to track down their previous track records of both success and failure. Look at their social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and see how they think and behave. However, you cannot judge book by its cover. Many startup founders are going through failures before success.
- Why do you want to work for a startup?
This step should be your biggest part of making a decision. Some people said they join startup not to earn a big paycheck. They decided to join the team as they are keen to make changes for the greater good. They are like a big fish in a little pond – big fish that wears a lot of different hats. Because that’s how startup is, fun and casual in a very different level than big firm.
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