Should You Join A Big MNC Or Startup For Your Next Job? Here Are 9 Things You Should Know

Would you rather have flexible working hours or job security?

Cover image via shinL | SAYS |

It's important to know what you want in a job, especially if you'll be spending over 40 hours a week at work

Image via Rawpixel

Some people want to earn big bucks quickly; others would rather have a stable job with steady progression. Some prefer structure and clear job descriptions; others want to do something new and exciting every day.

Knowing what you want will help you decide which company to go for.

Each company provides a different experience, so should you choose to work at a big MNC or a smaller startup?

MNCs, or multinational corporations, are more established companies with offices in multiple countries. Startups, on the other hand, are upcoming business ventures trying to find their niche and disrupt the market. Both have pros and cons.

Here are a few things you should consider:

1. The pay and the perks

For better pay: MNC

Nowadays, it's not just about the salary, but the perks a company offers. At MNCs, you'll find benefits like healthcare, dental care, and occasionally free breakfast. On the other hand, you may find interesting perks like 'grooming' (to get a haircut) and 'family appreciation' (to treat your family) at smaller firms like OpenMinds Resources—a young Malaysian digital marketing company.

When it comes to pay though, most people acknowledge that MNCs are usually willing to offer more. According to Michael Tan, the HR Director for P&G Asia Pacific, the salary for fresh grads can start at RM56,000 annually (with very comprehensive benefits on top of that).

2. The workspace and facitilies

Image via Dezeen

For vibrant workspace: MNC & Startup

Vibrant workspaces used to be something reserved for only startups. However, many MNCs are now getting a face lift and opting for a more open, collaborative concept. The great thing about MNCs is that they have the capacity to provide facilities like nursery rooms, game areas, and hangout spots that would be considered a luxury for startups.

3. The working hours

Image via Thought Catalog

For flexible working hours: Startup

Young Malaysians love startups because of the flexible working hours. But the downside of flexibility is that work now follows you wherever you go.

MNCs generally have a stricter guideline on working hours compared to startups, but some of them like P&G have always provided flexible working arrangements like the option to work from home and flexible starting hours—to accommodate both personal and business needs.

4. The job scope

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Do one job well: MNC | Do everything: Startup

You are often hired by an MNC to do one job, and to do it well. This is good if you want to hone your skillsets and progress in a certain direction. At startups, you're expected to pick up everything and help out in all aspects of the business. This means you learn a lot very fast, but you'll have a harder time developing a specific skillset.

“Know the job description well, know what industry you’re getting into, and know the work environment. If you know yourself and the company, you'll be able to tell whether you’re a good fit for them,” says Cynthia Lee, an executive director at a healthcare MNC.

5. The level of ownership

Image via Teemu Paananen

For ownership: Startup

Ownership is not just about getting the job done, but being empowered to try out new things and even go beyond your job scope. Some people are content doing the work given to them, but others with an entrepreneurial spirit find fulfilment in getting their hands dirty, voicing out their ideas, and challenging the status quo. The former would be more suited for MNCs, and the latter for startups.

"Startup companies are much more accepting of fresh ideas, even if it comes from an intern or a new hire. It's nice to feel accepted into a company so quickly and being treated like family the minute you walk through the doors," shared one of our interviewees who recently moved from an MNC to a startup.

6. The job security

For job security: MNC

It may be fun and exciting to work for a startup, but at some point you'll need to evaluate the risks involved—90% of startups fail, which means you could be out of a job. MNCs, on the other hand, usually have longer runways and won't go out of business in a day.

7. The opportunities for growth

Participants at the P&G CEO Challenge, a competition by P&G to discover and cultivate young talent.

Image via P&G

For career progression: MNC

When you're working with peers at a startup, a lot of learning is on the job, with very little formal training. With MNCs, they often have weeks of onboarding and scheduled trainings throughout the year to help you up your skills. There is also a clearer route for progression and promotion to leadership roles.

According to WOBB's Malaysian Work Culture Report, career growth was the top priority for Malaysians when looking for jobs. Some companies have comprehensive websites that tell you the training programmes and opportunities they provide, so make full use of it to do your research before joining a company.

8. The organisational structure

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For traditional ladder: MNC | For flat culture: Startup

MNCs have a corporate ladder with levels of seniority, whereas startups have more of a flat, fluid culture. Some people prefer climbing the corporate ladder, while others would rather work in an environment where there are no juniors or seniors. However, according to Ko Chuan Zhen, founder of a local solar company, even a startup can change its structure.

"When Plus Solar first started in 2013, there was no real system, but as the company scaled, we had to redesign the operations, technology, and systems. As we grow, we want to create an enterprise that is systematic, but still connects people together like how a startup would," says Ko.

9. The work culture

For fun working environment: MNC & Startup

A company's work culture can make or break your work experience. Whether it's the freedom to dress, the openness of the people, or even the fun activities outside of work, all this adds up to a culture that can either make you want to stay or leave.

Mindvalley, an innovative education company, invent their own culture days, like high heels day or fake moustache day. At REV Asia (home to SAYS and OHBULAN!), employees get a monthly budget to plan a smoke signal activity involving the entire company, be it a VR gaming outing, a board game night, or an Avengers premiere movie screening.

Ultimately, it's important that you search for a company that will help you grow and push you forward in your career

HR Director for P&G Asia Pacific, Michael Tan, advises to "look for a company that cares for its employees and also a place where you can learn, grow, and more importantly make an impact."

"At P&G, we groom our people through hands-on experiences as well as local and regional exposure, while ensuring they have meaningful responsibilities from the start of their careers. Through our years of experience, we have seen many of them grow into great leaders."

Marta Kondryn, Head of People at Mindvalley, advises young Malaysians not to jump on the first opportunity they are offered

Marta Kondryn (bottom left)

Image via Mindvalley

"In a sense, be selfish to seek out the best opportunity you can get. Choose a company that is making the world a better place. Don’t go to a place that harms society or the environment. You spend 70% of your hours at work, and you want to do something that doesn’t harm your kids, but makes a better place for future generations.”

In other words, if it sparks joy...

For more career tips like this, follow our #HireMeLah series:

Image via SAYS

#HireMeLah is a personal growth series to help young Malaysians be the best they can at their workplace. In the series, we interview directors, hiring managers, and employees across Malaysia, and bring you the best tips to advance in your career.

Send over your stories/tips/advice to jerem[email protected] for a chance to be featured. Once again, hats off to shinL for the amazing illustrations! :P

Read on to find out what employers think of young Malaysians:

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