What Sized Company Is The Right Fit For You?

By Joe Stein

In the work world, one size generally does not fit all. Over the years, I have written many times over the years (in these pages) about making sure that whatever job you decide to accept, it is the right one for you. You not only have to feel comfortable with your supervisor and the job, but also with the overall work environment.
 
The work environment is a challenging area to define, as it may relate to many subjects such as your co-workers or the physical building. In some ways, the work environment and overall culture is determined by the size of the organization, or the specific location you are going to work from. In this edition of HR Matters, we are going to focus on the size of the organization and how this information impacts both your job search and your career decisions.
 
Let’s start with how the size of the organization may impact your job search.
 
·         Smaller Companies Often Have Less Technology – Chances are a smaller company is still utilizing a paper application or accepting e-mail resumes. A larger organization is more likely to have some type of online system that will accept your application and also electronically manage the process. These larger organizations may have gone to a paper-less process and it is difficult to connect with an individual person, such as a Recruiter, early in the process.
 
·         Larger Companies May Have More Steps – In a smaller company, you may interview with the owner or someone only a step or two away from that person. This may mean only 1 or 2 interviews have to be completed prior to a decision. Larger companies tend to want multiple opinions and some type of consensus, which can require a few interviews or even a panel discussion.
 
·         A Smaller Company May Move Faster – With the reduction in layers may mean a much quicker decision. The speed in the decision may also be due to the impact that even one opening can have in a smaller organization. They are really focused on filling the position. A larger company can have a greater capacity to absorb an opening, leading to a more measured decision making process.
 
Determining if a smaller or larger company is right for you is an important decision. The following consideration items may help you in making your decision. 
 
·         How Personal of a Relationship Do You Want? – It is not that you cannot have a personal relationship with a larger company and build lasting friendships; it is generally just easier to do with a small one. In a smaller company, often everyone knows each other. This can be great unless you are a very private and/or quiet person. If sharing is a challenge for you, this size company may not be right for you. On the other hand, when you are with a small employer, you can sometimes really feel like you are part of a team working for a common goal.
 
·         How Fast Do You Want to Move Up? - You can generally move up faster until you reach a certain level when in a smaller company. By impressing the owners (and in a smaller company it can be easier to get noticed), you can move quickly. The downsize is you can often be blocked once you reach a certain level, either due to the lack of more senior positions or they may be allocated for others such as family members. A larger company may have a more measured approach to promotions, but less of a ceiling to prevent you from continuing to move up.
 
·         Breadth v. Depth of Knowledge - In a smaller company, a person can often be a “jack of all trades”, which is a great way to learn a little about a lot of things. It also provides a lot of variety to the work day, which can make the day, go by faster. What you may not obtain, however, is real subject matter expertise that comes from doing one thing (or a few things) often and in some real depth.
 
·         Local v. Regional v. National – For many Western New York residents, moving away from the area is not an option to consider. For others, the possibility of geographically moving at some point in their career (for either advancement or personal reasons) is a real possibility. A small company in WNY is most likely tied to this area and does not have expansion plans beyond it (and if it does… most likely not beyond regionally). A much larger organization may have locations in different parts of the country (or world) providing you with both career opportunities and the experience of living somewhere else.
 
·         How Flexible Do You Want It? - A large company is generally governed by policy often written by people located somewhere different outside of where you physically are located. This policy focus can build consistency for the organization, but does not lead too much in the way of flexibility or personalization. A smaller company may be more willing to work with you on a personal matter or a schedule adjustment, etc. Their decision making may be more driven from the personal nature of the relationships.
 
There is no one recipe that is best when it comes to what size organization should be your focus. It really depends on your personal and career preferences that should lead you to the one size that is right for you.
 
As always, best of luck in your job search!