Should Your Job Search Include Smaller Companies?

small companiesby guest blogger, Mike Van Horn

A while back, I wrote an article on how smaller companies can compete for top talent with large corporations. Let me turn that around, and tell job seekers why you should consider looking at smaller companies. (I advise owner-run firms from 5 to 100 employees.)

— Shorter commute.

One 50-person client just hired a COO for $120k who’d received a $150k offer from a corporation in the city. He opted for a local 10-minute bike commute over the hour+ daily grind each way. He figured the extra two hours a day added to his life was worth $30 grand a year.

— More opportunity.

Another client hired a GM away from a much larger competitor. The guy saw that he’d reached the top where he was, and in the new job, he’d get to lead a major growth push. Big fish in a smaller pond.

— Less travel.

Many professionals in their 40s and 50s switch to smaller, local firms because they’re tired of constant travel they’ve had in their corporate jobs.

— Flexibility.

“Yes, we can bend your schedule around your kids’ soccer games.”

— More diverse opportunity.

You may get to take on a much greater variety of projects and responsibilities.

— Work directly with the principals.

Small companies may be headed by much more innovative and leading-edge people, and it’s a great opportunity to work with them.

— Less corporate bureaucracy and politics.

— Un-retired.

Here’s a big growing trend: Senior people retire from the corporation, then go to work for smaller companies. They trade less money for lower stress and flexible hours. The oldest guy working with us is in his mid 70s.

— Less risk of your job being off-shored.

Many small businesses market their personal contact and personal touch, and their customers prefer that. Personal contact cannot be off-shored.

— It’s a real job, not a contract job,

which seems to be the fate of many corporate job seekers these days.

There are a few downsides:

— Small companies may not offer as juicy a benefits package. However, don’t take this for granted these days!  Especially if your alternative is a corporate contract job.

— Some long-time corporate employees aren’t cut out for the small business environment. They may be accustomed to narrower duties, superiors telling them what to do (thus uncomfortable taking initiative), having a lot of support staff (thus not resourceful at getting things done). But by far the worst quality is exhibiting “employee mentality” rather than the “entrepreneur mentality” needed in a small, dynamic firm. And I’m talking about top-level managers! You must look at yourself to make sure you could be comfortable in a small business culture.

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Mike Van Horn’s company, The Business Group, leads peer advisory groups for owners of growing businesses. http://blog.businessownerstoolbox.com

 

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