Finding the best company for you: Is bigger better? Or is less more?
Whether you just graduated or are looking for a new job, selecting the best company for you can be a daunting task. To be honest, when I was looking for my first job, I didn't have a clue. I'd worked as a freelancer for about a year and discovered that it wasn't for me; I wanted income stability and to work with a team. After that, I worked for a start-up, small “boutique” companies, and large enterprises. Each provided its benefits, disadvantages, and opportunities that you should be aware of while completing your job search.
The pressure to get a job, any job, can be high. I started my career in Europe and had a financial backup (government benefits) if things didn't work out. Most people in the US don't have that luxury and find themselves rushing into the next available gig. Finding the best fit can save you from the misery of starting all over again. Matching yourself with the right company will hopefully lead not just to a position but a long-lasting, sustainable career.
Where to start?
The best company for you is a company that aligns with your values, goals, and work style. Narrowing it down to a specific industry is the first step. Next: focus on the size; understanding the differences between start-ups, small companies, and large enterprises is key.
The first company I worked for was a start-up, and I loved being part of a small team, wearing multiple hats, and contributing to growth. Everything was new, processes, materials, and strategies. We even developed a proprietary, unique marketing research software, and I loved it. I learned a lot in a very short time, yet the opportunities for upward progress were limited.
Sizing up a company
There are advantages and disadvantages to both large and small companies. The benefits offered can be better at larger companies, and you may get the opportunity to specialize and develop deep expertise in one specific area. They also might provide professional education, accelerating your skill development. On the other hand, getting anything done in a large organization can take more time and include following procedures. Policies can stifle creativity, spontaneity, and opportunities to innovate.
In smaller companies, benefits are usually less comprehensive. Everyone wears several hats, so you're more likely to develop a broader range of skills than deep expertise in one specific area. While you can stand out and become more rapidly credible and visible, you might not have the same opportunity for steady upward progress. There’s usually more transparency and less competition. If you are the type of person who wants to have their say and wants to feel involved in the direction of the business, a smaller organization is probably a better fit for you.
What to look for in a company?
For those looking at their next job, I recommend looking closely at what's missing at your current company. You changed as a person (you want to switch industry or type of position, or you became a parent and need a better work/life balance), or your team or the company changed.
At Macedon, I enjoy the culture and diversity of a medium-size organization; there’s an openness to change and innovation. I like challenges; it keeps me engaged and passionate about what I do. These were important items on my wishlist when I applied for my current position at Macedon.
Interviewing the company is just as important as they're interviewing you. Look for limitations and opportunities in your selected companies. Trust your gut, and don't waste your time on companies you know are not right for you. When researching, applying, and interviewing, ask yourself, "Would I enjoy working here?"
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