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Is It Better to Start Your Career at a Big, or Small Company?
The first step in your career is an exciting, nervous and often uncertain time. One of the most significant decisions to make first, is whether to pursue a role with a big company or instead aim for a smaller business. We explore the pros and cons of each to help you make that crucial decision.
The hiring process for small and big businesses can be very different. Larger companies often take their time and filter through applications before settling on a shortlist. They also tend to have a strict application criterion and interview process. They can be selective due to the large workforce they already have and the number of applications they will undoubtedly receive.
Small businesses are more inclined to interview those applicants that don’t have the experience or full skill set, as the number of applications they receive is usually a lot lower than that of their bigger competitors. Their smaller workforce usually means they need to hire more urgently and are more willing to take a chance on someone who may not have all the skills or experience noted on the job specification.
The number of positions can vary across all sizes of businesses. Usually, larger companies will advertise for niche roles that require a specific skillset and while this may enable you to find your dream role, it will also be tough to fit the criteria. Small businesses may have more general vacancies, allowing those candidates with some of the necessary skills to learn on the job and garner the experience they are currently lacking.
Salary and Benefits:
A huge point to consider when applying or accepting a job are the benefits that come with it. Big businesses tend to offer lower entry-level salaries, but with a broader scope of opportunity to increase your wage over time. They also often benefit from significant pension contributions and bonus schemes, certainly something to consider if you expect to stay in the position long-term.
Small businesses have less capability to offer pay rises as often so you should expect to stay on the salary accepted for some time. However, small businesses are more inclined to negotiate a starting salary with you; as opposed to being unable to shift on salary expectations. The pension contributions from small firms are usually a lot leaner too.
Development and Promotion:
A fantastic benefit of working for a small company is the rapid rate at which you can gain promotion. Small firms often prefer internal hires as they are substantially cheaper and involve less risk than external hires, especially for management positions. Be aware though; there may be a limit in the level you can reach.
Big companies can provide many opportunities for development and in turn, many positions to seek promotion to. However, you may have to wait for those positions to become available and then be ready to battle stiff competition for them once they arise.
The time may come when you decide to seek a new venture elsewhere, or you may feel you have achieved all you can in your current role. Working for a large company may enable you to accumulate a more extensive network of contacts that may be of some use when searching for a new adventure. However, there may not be as many opportunities to communicate or work with the connections you make. This is usually very different in a small company, where you often spend lots of time in face to face meetings with clients, senior staff and other influential people within your industry.
Irrespective of the points above, you must choose the place you feel your skills, experience and personality best suits. Research the companies you interview with, think hard about the offers you receive and be clear with yourself about expectations.