How to decide which startup to work for


This question for experienced folks, who have been in the IT industry for some years now. Can you guys please guide me on how to decide which startup to join?

I am a senior in college and will be graduating soon, I wish to join an organisation where I can learn and grow my skills. Basically, an organisation where I can learn the best practices when developing software, things like how to write clean, testable code and how to scale products for a large customer base.

On various hiring portals, there are a number of companies hiring, how do I decide which one to apply to? What all factors should I take into consideration before applying for a job opening? company size? funding?

It depends. But without knowing your exact situation, I’d say for the first job you should apply everywhere and take the first reasonable offer.


I agree with above, apply apply apply. You shouldn’t focus much on “what if I get this job” or “which job can I get?” the focus should be more on getting a job.

Getting a job is hard, it always has been. If your just graduating you are essentially in a group of hundreds of other people who will come out and have essentially the exactly same resume as you. Unless you did some extra stuff while in school, you wont stand out much automatically. Now consider there are multiple other colleges with hundreds of other people in a similar place, some coming from better schools, some from worse ones. Also, there are people already out in the workforce looking at other jobs.

Taken together, 1 job could have multiple applicants all with solid qualifications, but in the end only 1 can be accepted. As such you will need to be applying, and still increasing your skills while on the job search, so you can get your resume to “stand out more”, while taking a “shotgun” approach to finding what sort of jobs line up with your skills, their requirements, while having competition at a minimum.

I’d look into whatever resources your college has that you can still leverage, this gives you some advantage over those who aren’t in your own college, and could get you some kind of “foot in the door” over just cold applying. Optimally the more time you have to leverage these sorts of resources the better, but better late than never!

Probably the most important thing is apply for jobs you want that are close to your own qualifications. So jobs that require a degree that are entry level should be your main targets. Since you have a degree, you should have a leg up over others who are applying without a degree, which should help getting through job filters at least.

Good luck, keep applying, keep building, and keep learning!

Check Glassdoor for reviews from existing/former employees.

First off, apply to a lot of jobs. Don’t apply to jobs you wouldn’t consider accepting, but plan on not hearing back about a lot of them.

In terms of picking a place to work, think about the job/employer and ask yourself:

  • Would I enjoy this work?
  • Is this a company that I believe in?
  • Is this a product that I believe will be successful?
  • What size team will I be working on?
  • What type of projects would I be working on?
  • Is there room for me to learn and grow?
  • How much control will I have over the work I do?
  • Does this company/product solve a problem that I view as important?

When it comes to accepting a job - If you believe in the company/product, you trust your team, and you’d find the work you do mentally stimulating and personally satisfying, take the job!

yeah, getting that first job is insanely difficult. Apply like hell, keep learning, keep building things, keep getting better at interviewing and refining your resume, etc.

Just plan on having to apply to a lot of jobs and getting very frustrated. As hard and frustrating as you think it will be, it’s worse. And plan on taking the first reasonable job offer you get. After you get a few years under your belt, you can start getting picky.

Thank you @kevinSmith , @jenovs , @bradtaniguchi , @gitlab-greg for your valuable guidance. I know getting the first job is a difficult task and I will have to apply at a number of places. But my question is how do I select the companies to apply for? how do I decide from the thousands of companies, the one which would help me grow my skills?

To provide a bit of background, it’s not like I don’t have any offers, I have a couple of offers right now, so even if I don’t get into any other company, I will still have a job when I graduate.

But I want to join a decent company fresh out of college so that I can ensure that 2-3 years down the line when I try to switch to a new place, my skills are at par with my payscale and I don’t have to settle for a lower pay scale, just because I could not learn enough at my current organization.

I’d review which kind of companies you want to work for in terms of culture, how “work” actually is, as stated from employees. Sites like glassdoor usually is a start. Sure you can hear rave reviews about working at Google, but getting in is tough. Somewhere like SpaceX might sound amazing, and you might actually get to work there, but then find you don’t get holiday’s off, get paid very well, and have to work weekends all the time.

You can also reach out to people who work the sort of jobs your looking at via linkedin. Then you can ask them how it is to work after. You don’t want to cold-call pester, so be sure to strike up a conversation and maybe offer something in exchange, like help them on an open source project they have and then see if you can ask them how it is to work where they work.

Generally however you apply to basically anything that sounds decent enough. Most job postings will show pay, benefits, and perks. Anything that sounds reasonable you should apply to. If you get to the interview stage, then you can always ask your questions, stuff like how is training, or perks. However do understand that asking too much about “what kinda perks/pay/raises/vacation/etc” during the interview can kill your chances of moving forward in the process. The decision of who you work for is an agreement between two parties, so you always have a say in if you can do it or not. Its not like after you hit the online “submit” button for the job posting your “in”, or are forced to continue with that job.

Even if you do get the job and find it sucks, or you boss is pure evil :smiling_imp: , you can always just get another one. Its not like you sign your soul away. (or at least I hope you don’t when you sign the paper work ;p)

Lastly, I’d focus more on applying to jobs and getting thru to an interview and getting the offer rather than worrying too much about “who” to apply to. I’d compare it to asking for advice on how to pick which handsome/beautiful/funny/rich/powerful person you’d marry. Rather than asking them out on a date, or even getting to really know them!

If you end up with multiple jobs to pick from then ask for advice on who to pick, same way if you have a line of famous/powerful/rich people lining up to marry you too, then ask for help on who to choose. Otherwise apply to anything reasonable and see where it goes.

So the job chooses you more than you choose the job, and most jobs choose someone else, so apply to as many as you can that sound reasonable enough. You can however choose what kind of job you can/will do and stick applying to those.

Good luck, keep applying, keep learning, keep building :+1:

Unless it’s an established company with a known engineering culture (e.g. Google, FB etc.), you can’t. At the end of the day it’s a crap-shoot. That’s why you always have to be looking around to see what’s going on on the market so you don’t end up being underpaid, or not learning much, or with “gold handcuffs” (job that sucks, but the pay is too good to quit). Also, companies change. Not overnight, but they do. So the perfect company today may be worst nightmare in few years.

It’s not like you have one shot or one opportunity. And, yes, you may choose a company that sucks, you may have to take paycut somewhere down the line, you may feel that you “wasted” couple years here and there, but that’s life. It won’t be perfect.

Probably not the answer you’re looking for :slight_smile:

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