Big or small company: Which is right for you

Think size doesn’t matter? Think again…

When it comes to job hunting, finding the right role is only half the battle. You also need to choose an organisation that supports your career goals, work style, and desired team dynamic. And although the culture of each company will vary regardless of its size, there are a few things you should bear in mind when looking for your perfect fit.

To help you decide what type of company would best suit you, here are a few potential advantages and disadvantages of working for big and small companies:


Why a big company might be right for you

You want to work within a clear structure. Big companies often have an established way of doing things, from training schemes and progression opportunities, to the role you’re required to do and how you’re managed. So if you’re looking for a company with clear set up, a larger scale organisation could be for you.

You’ll benefit from the brand’s reputation. A big company is more likely to be a well-known brand, and working there be a great way to add value to your CV. And although you’ll still need to have the right skills, working for an industry leader (for example, one of the ‘Big Four’ accounting firms), could help set you apart when it comes to finding future roles.

You’re looking for a good benefits package. In general, larger companies have the funds and resources to provide a wide range of benefits – whether its pension schemes or dental care plans. You also might find that they offer company culture boosting perks like discounted meals or a subsidised gym membership.


Why a big company might not be right for you

You don’t want to wait around for changes to be made. Even if the company you choose is open to new ideas, it might take a while to implement them. Not only could there be a number of stakeholders to run any potential changes by, it also might be more difficult to shift current organisational views or habits that might have been set in stone for a while.

You want to know everyone you work with. Big companies have a large number of employees, meaning it’s impossible to know absolutely everyone – especially members of senior management. This means that aspects of your job will be influenced by people you might not have even met, making it potentially harder to communicate your feelings if any problems arise.

You’re keen on doing a bit of everything. With the clear sense of structure that a big company is likely to offer, your responsibilities are also likely to be more defined. This means that you might not get the opportunity to take on projects or assignments outside of your remit, or be flexible with the work you do.


Why a small company might be right for you

You want a varied role. If you’re looking for a job that allows you to utilise and develop a wide range of skills, whilst carrying out a whole host of duties, a small company could be for you. With less employees to fill the gaps, your role is likely to be more fluid, with tasks and responsibilities expanding outside of a narrowly defined job description – especially in a start-up environment.

You’re looking for a close-knit team. Working for a smaller company not only means you’ll be able to benefit from the comradery involved with being part of a small team, it also means that you’ll have easier access to the company’s moving parts – making voicing concerns or pitching ideas an easier (and faster) process.

You want your successes to be noticed. When the company you work for is small, your achievements will have more of an impact on the organisation’s overall strategy, direction, and goals. This means you may be more likely to experience a high level of recognition and ownership for what you do.


Why a small company might not be right for you

You’re looking for a clear path for promotion. Whilst promotion is undoubtedly possible at a small company, the steps you need to take to get there might not be as clearly defined, with formal training schemes less likely to be as straightforward. And, if the company isn’t looking to grow anytime soon, you also may find it difficult to move on to the next level (especially if the person above you is unlikely to move on).

You want to stick to a clear routine. If you’re keen on sticking to what you know, a small company might not be the best option for you. You may be required to carry out different duties every day, or step in for others where needed. This means that your role might not be limited to what you enjoy, or what was set in the job description.

You like being around (lots of) people. If your ideal work environment involves being amongst a large group of people, working at a small company could stifle your work style. Not only is it more likely for everyone to see what you do at all times, you also won’t get a lot of variation with the people you interact with – which could cause problems if you don’t get along with your colleagues.

Eight signs an employer is not the one


How to find work  

Ready to find your perfect company? Here are a few places to start:

  • Check our recruiter directory. If you’re looking for work at a particular brand, this is a great way to find it. You’ll also be able to view jobs at companies of all sizes, both by checking the amount of available roles and by carrying out your own research.
  • Don’t rule out recruitment agencies. Although recruitment agencies won’t always specify where a role is based, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue it. Discounting them completely could mean missing out on a company that’s perfect for you, which will be revealed as soon as you’re shortlisted.
  • Send a speculative application. If the company you want to work for isn’t currently hiring, sending a speculative application is a great way to demonstrate your interest. Even if they can’t offer you a role right now, they could keep your details on file for when one comes up.
  • Look for internships, apprenticeships, or graduate schemes. Many large companies will offer a range of entry points and training schemes to help you break into an industry, so applying for these could be a great way to get involved with an organisation you’re passionate about.
  • Do your research. Whilst large companies might already have an established reputation and well-known company culture, you might not know as much about a smaller company. To find out whether it’s right for you, check the company website and social media pages, along with any reviews from current or previous employees. All of these could be the difference in finding a business that best aligns with your own personal brand.


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