Many graduates have their hearts so firmly set on working for a larger company that they miss the smaller opportunities right under their noses.
Graduates looking for that first step on the career ladder risk delaying their career progress when they refuse to consider working for a small or medium sized company (SME). Most graduates want to work for a large company and as such can find it takes a lot longer to get that first job. If you’re a highflying graduate looking for your first job, don’t overlook the advantages to be found at smaller companies.
Of course, you have heard of large companies like HSBC, Sainsbury’s and Google but most graduates have never come across smaller firms such as TPP UK, Periscopix and Checkatrade (each of which are on the UK’s Best 100 Small Companies List). Yet these companies are part of the large group of SMEs that make up 99% of UK businesses. Many of them can and do offer great prospects for graduates looking to take that first step on the career ladder.
A smaller company can offer just as much or even more job satisfaction than a larger company. Consider 24-year-old Tessa Grafen, a clinical systems analyst and Arabic language graduate who works for clinical software provider TPP. After just four weeks at the company she found herself travelling to the Middle East where she relished the opportunity to use her skills. She says she gets to do a lot of meetings on her own and that many of ‘my friends [in other firms] never get to do anything unsupervised’.
Widening your vision could help you beat competition
The problem with setting your sights on working for a large company alone is that you could be denying yourself the opportunity to get started on your ideal career much sooner. You could be also denying yourself the opportunity to progress on the job much more quickly. Think about it. Everyone is looking for a position at a larger company. That means the competition is stronger and the employer has a greater number of prospective candidates to choose from.
Now I am in no way seeking to dampen the spirit of competition or even the optimism you may have that you are the best person for the job. That’s great. I am merely suggesting you consider SMEs as part of your job search strategy, especially if you find you are applying to larger companies and getting nowhere. If large corporations make up just 1% of UK businesses, then it stands to reason that the opportunities for finding a job substantially increases if you consider SMEs as part of your career management plan.
Career ladders have to begin somewhere, so why not at a smaller firm?
The time you spend waiting to land the perfect job at a top company could be used gaining valuable skills at a smaller company where at least you will gain the extra experience and confidence you need – and often much more quickly too – to attract the attention of recruiters at a larger firm.
And you never know, you might find yourself in a position like Tessa Grafen and like it so much you change your mind about working for a top firm after all.
How to choose a great small company to work for
So how can you find out more about the best SMEs to work for in the UK or abroad? As I like to tell graduates, do your research. Here are a few websites to get you started.