If anybody ever tells you that size doesn’t matter, they’re wrong – at least when it comes to finding a job you love! You may feel that amidst all the other things you have to consider when applying for jobs, the size of the company may feature low down on the priority list. However, it’s something that is really worth thinking about says career coach Michelle Bayley of Find Your Way Coaching.
“True, for some people the size of a company might not be such a big issue,” she says, “but for others it’s all part of the jigsaw you put together when job-hunting. There are many different elements to consider and this is just one of those elements.”
Different sized companies offer different advantages and disadvantages and what’s right for your best friend may not be right for you. It’s all about finding out what size fits you. “When we talk about ‘fit’, it really means looking at how you fit in with a company’s culture and values, which permeate everything,” says Michelle. “That’s why it’s important to consider what kind of culture you want to work in.”
If you’re the sort of person who enjoys flexibility in their working life and the chance to try your hand at many different roles, then a smaller company might be best for you where you could be called upon to take on roles beyond your remit. On the other hand, if you are the sort of person who enjoys getting stuck into one element of a task, a larger company may allow you to specialise more in your field.
Perhaps you like formality and structure around you? If so, you’ll feel safer in the environment of a larger, corporate company where there is more structure to sink into and the route to management is clearly defined. This sort of work place would be disastrous, however, for someone who enjoys a more informal, open environment where they feel close to management and value their ability to influence.
“I had a client who was adamant that she wanted to feel close to the senior team,” says Michelle. “She wanted somewhere where she could just wander in and have a chat with her boss at a moment’s notice. She felt that a smaller company would be more likely to give her those opportunities.”
If it’s important for you to see the impact of what you do, then think carefully before applying to larger companies. “Another client came to see me because he grew tired of the corporate environment he was in where he could no longer see the influence of what he did,” says Michelle. “This led him to question what impact he had on the company and he chose to look for a new role in a smaller organisation where he could see more directly the impact of what he does.”
If you’re a very careful planner and the sort of person who likes to map out where you’ll be in five years’ time, you may prefer somewhere that offers a formal career path and specific training opportunities – larger companies potentially have more resources to be able to do this, although you could experience more on-the-job training in a smaller company.
Looking at how the culture and values of a company match your own is an important exercise and one that could lead you to true contentment in your career. However, it’s not always so clear cut warns Michelle: “You can get a big company culture in a small organisation and vice versa so it’s hugely important to research each company you want to apply to as much as possible. Only then will you get your perfect fit.”
Big or small – the pros and cons of different working environments:
- Flexibility to perform different roles and gain wider experience
- Close to management so greater chance to influence
- See impact more quickly
- Possibly fewer promotional opportunities
- Potentially less resource for training
- Lack of proper career progressions structure
- Strong sense of career progression
- Formal structure allows you to focus on your job
- Opportunities to specialise in one element of role
- More layers to get through to senior management
- Can get lost in system
- Can lose sense of tangible effect you have on results
For more career advice from Michelle, visit findyourwaycoaching.co.uk