Big or small? It’s a matter of perspective

Whether you’re bonkers for BT, or crazy for your corner shop, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to working for large or small organisations, it’s about what’s right for you.

You might have your heart set on working for a big name and adding some kudos to your CV, but have you thought about the pros and cons to being a small cog in a big machine?

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Teamwork makes the dream work

Fresh out of University, you’ll be used to being the master of your own destiny – if you work hard you will see results, but as an employee of a large company, you may be part of a massive process where you won’t see results directly from your input, but instead contribute to the success of the whole.

Of course, this comes with it’s benefits too; you’ll almost certainly be part of a team, which can make for great camaraderie as you all work towards a common goal. Working in a good team can be very rewarding, both in terms of job satisfaction and in building lasting relationships.

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Know your place

Big companies are structured and hierarchical, which can be great – you’ll know where you fit in the structure, there will be processes, rules and regulations and usually set objectives for progression. You’ll know where you stand. This comes with the downside of bureaucracy and red tape, which means decisions and change often take a long time as ideas and approvals go through the structure.

Working for a large company  can also leave you feeling alienated and like you’re just a number. Often large companies recruit regularly which means your co-workers might change frequently and there are few familiar faces, though of course this also offers you the opportunity to move around, in some cases even travel the world with your work.

On the flipside, working for an SME (small and medium-sized enterprises) can offer you surprising benefits that you may not have thought of

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When the going gets tough, the tough get going

You can make a real difference in a small company. There’s nowhere to hide because it’s likely that you will be the only person responsible for doing your job so you will see the fruits of your labour and your hard work will again pay off. This means you’ll need to pull your weight – it’ll affect everyone in the team if you don’t!

There’s an expectation in small companies that everyone will muck in when the going is tough. This is a fantastic way to broaden your skill set and really shine. This means you’ll have a varied role, you’ll be less likely to be bored and you’ll feel like you’re making a meaningful contribution.

We are family

It’s easier to progress in a small organisation as your skills and input will be evident, often the rapid growth of a new company means new vacancies and opportunities become available more frequently and you have your foot in the door to take the next stage in your career.

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With all this close teamwork, you’ll get a real bond with your colleagues and it’ll feel like a family. Of course, like all good families, they can sometimes be a bit dysfunctional and being so close means there’s no escape!

It’s not all happy families, there are some downsides to working for an SME. If you’re working in a well-established company, they may not feel the need to grow so opportunities to progress might be fewer or you may become stuck in your role.

Don’t worry, be happy

The salaries are usually competitive but SME budgets will not compete with multi-national conglomerates, which means there’ll be less money in the pot for pay rises and massive pay packets. Benefits such as healthcare, childcare and corporate discounts are also less likely in an SME. It’s not all about the dollar though, remember there’s no point being rich if you spend everyday being miserable!

So, it’s all about your perspective on your work life. Think big… or small when it comes to employers because they have different things to offer depending on what you want to get out of your career. Don’t forget you can book an appointment at the Employability and Careers Centre to talk through your options with an advisor.

Credit and thanks to Bridgewater UK for the articles that informed and inspired this blog.

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