Joining a corporation is the single most important thing that you can do to improve your EVE Online experience. Whether you are cruising the in-game recruitment channel, perusing the in-game recruitment rolodex, posting your EVE resume in the Alliance and Corporation Recruitment Center on the main EVE site, or just asking around, you need to sort the good corps from the lemons. These ten tips will help you find the corporation that best suits you.
1. Does the corporation take players of your skill level? If you are a newer player, you should find a corporation that is willing to take and train newer members. There are plenty of corporations out there that do this, even in null security space. EVE University is perhaps the most famous empire-based organization that specializes in training newbies, but there are others out there. Many corporations are willing to take on new players and train them as long as you seem smart and invested in being good at the game.
Conversely, if you are a PVP master, make sure that the corporation you are thinking of joining is run by serious players that know what they are doing. Look at their killboard (they have a killboard, right?) to see if they have more kills than losses. Check out their ship fittings on there to see if they know what they are doing.
2. Does the corporation seem well established? It's usually best for newer players to avoid start-ups and head straight for corporations that have already found their footing. Dozens of ten-man empire corps full of strangers with dilettante leaders are formed and dissolved, every day. Don't join them if you want a well-run corporation, you're wasting time that could be spent in a corporation that already has an active membership and engaged leadership.
3. Does the tone of the corporation match your comfort level? If excessive profanity or insensitivity is a deal-breaker for you, ask your recruiter about the general maturity level of the corporate membership. Most corporations in EVE are probably going to have at least some 4chan memes and teasing, but some corporations can be downright hostile.
The reverse case is something to be aware of, as well. If your new corporation has a "no cussing" rule, and you were in the navy for ten years, you may wish to seek greener pastures.
4. Does the corporation have the out of game trappings of a successful corporation? Do they have a teamspeak or ventrilo server? Do they have forums or a message board of some kind for out of game communication? An irc channel? A wiki? Many smaller or medium-sized corporations won't have their own killboards because of the features offered by free killboard sites, but it's always a bonus if they do.
The very minimum that a good corporation should have is a teamspeak or ventrilo server. Using EVE voice doesn't cut it for a real corporation because it lacks certain frills, has poor security in some respects, and because it does not allow the same coordination between channels and groups of people as an out of game voice communication client. If you are considering a corporation that lacks these things, you may be getting into bed with a fairly inactive bunch of people.
An out of game communication method is important to the success of a corporation, as well. IRC channels are probably best for this, as they allow corp-mates to chat while working office jobs or hanging about the house, and if there is a situation requiring members to log in and assemble a fleet, a speedy response is possible without notice.
5. Does the corporation in question match your activity time and level? If you live in New York and you are joining a primarily Australian corporation, EVE is going to seem like a ghost town to you. Well, unless you have insomnia. If you live in Europe you have some flexibility, but if you live in the western United States you need to be more careful about what time zones your corporation is active in.
Have you not really gotten your feet wet with PVP, but this corporation you are considering demands that you get on at least five killmails a week? Best keep looking, then, or you are going to be out on the curb after a frustrating week or two. Is a potential corporation demanding that you run wormholes with them at least three times a week? It is best to be realistic about whether or not you can handle that activity level, before agreeing to join.
Some corporations are really just tax engines for their CEO or a larger alliance that controls the area. These groups suite dilettantes that don't go in much for member involvement, and likely won't offer much in the way of group PVP opportunities.
6. Is the corporation presently engaged in a conflict and, if so, do you feel comfortable with their chances of succeeding? A sad trend among corporations and alliances that are losing wars in nullsec and lowsec is to bloat. That is, to recruit members in an attempt to bolster dwindling numbers. Usually, this means that the corporation is destined to fail and retreat to empire, which makes it a bad time for you to join them.
Ways to check this include sifting through battle reports on the Scrapheap Challenge forums, wading through the noise on CAOD, checking Dotlan sovereignty maps, and checking their killboard (and their enemies' killboards) to see their efficiency ratio. If they're losing a ton of stations, you probably want to find another corporation.
7. Does the corporation offer significant benefits in exchange for the taxes it charges? If a corporation is going to have a 25% tax, it had damn well better have something to make up for it. Other corps will often charge a flat fee per month in addition to their tax percentage.
You will need to weight the cost-benefit analysis yourself based on the particulars of your situation. Does the corporation control and effectively defend 0.0 space that will allow you to make enough money to offset this? Does the corporation reimburse ship losses in PVP or even PVE? Are there discounts for t2 ships? Will they sell you stacks of t2 modules at cost? Will they pay for your capital hull? Are you allowed to moon mine in their space?
If the pot is sweet enough, a high enough tax can make sense. Especially if you don't rely on ratting or mission-running as your primary income source, since other means of income generation are not subject to corporate taxes. If this is the case, you might not want to tell your recruiter that you are planning on being revenue-neutral for his corporation.
8. Does this corporation offer a reasonable line of progress toward your ambition? If you want to try your hand at leading fleets, and a given corporation forbids players under a year old from doing this, you should take that into account. Do you want to try moon mining, but only the CEO and his buddies are allowed to moon mine? Better find another corporation. Are you training into a dreadnought, but a group under consideration isn't planning on involving itself in nullsec? Better find another corporation.
9. Does your recruiter know what he's doing? If your recruiter is on the ball, he will have all the information you need to get situated with his corp readily available. He should be asking you about the ships you like to fly, your PVP history, your previous corporations of note, whether you can fly battleships, whether you are able to keep yourself solvent in the area of space that the corporation inhabits, and so forth. If he isn't asking these questions, something may be awry.
There are a lot of ways things could be going wrong here. The recruiter could be a scammer looking to take your hard-earned isk or goods. The recruiter could just be looking for warm bodies to generate taxes. Or perhaps the recruiter is just clueless. With joining a corporation, it's generally better to trust your instincts. If it seems like a lemon, it probably is, and there's no sense wasting your time on it.
10. Be patient. Finding the right corporation can take days or weeks, depending on your needs and who is recruiting. It's much better to find a sociopolitical group that meets your needs and will improve your enjoyment and engagement with the game, than to move all your worldly possessions to some boring group's base of operations and find out that things really aren't working a week or two later.
Sifting through the various recruitment options can be a pain, but it will all be worth it when you are settled with a group of people that meets your needs. Good luck finding that corp!