Career & Internship Services

Career Handbook

Large vs Small Companies

Small companies are generally privately owned and operated with fewer than 500 employees and/or less than $7 million in annual receipts. They can be an important, yet often overlooked, consideration in your job or internship search.

IS A SMALL COMPANY RIGHT FOR YOU?

Life in a small organization can be very different from life in a large organization. You should weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each and make an informed decision about which environment is most appropriate for you.

Advantages of a small company over a large one:

  • You may be given more responsibility and may not be as limited by a "job description."
  • You may be allowed to use your own initiative, rather than being closely supervised.
  • Your ideas and suggestions may be given more attention. You may have more clout.
  • Career advancement may be rapid in a growing company.
  • You are likely to be involved in the whole organization, not limited to one area.
  • The environment may be more informal and friendly. There may be fewer rules and policies.
  • You may have the chance to be involved in the growth of something great.

Disadvantages of a small company over a large one:

  • Many small businesses fail; you may have less job security.
  • There may be lower starting salaries and fewer benefits.
  • You may put in longer hours.
  • A dominant leader can control the entire organization. This can lead to more "political games."
  • You must be able to work with everyone within the organization.
  • Both your successes and failures may be more visible.
  • You may have fewer resources and support.

ARE YOU RIGHT FOR A SMALL COMPANY?

Because of the different nature of a small business, different qualities in employees may be needed. You will do well if you are:

  • Self motivated
  • A generalist with many different skills
  • A good communicator
  • Enthusiastic
  • A quick learner
  • Able to get things done on your own

FINDING A JOB IN A SMALL BUSINESS

Getting a job in a small company may require more work on your part, but the jobs are certainly there. When approaching a small company for a job, you may find the following differences in hiring practices:

Large Company Small Company
Centralized personnel department No personnel department
Recruiters may seek out potential employees No full-time recruiters
Standardized hiring procedure No standard hiring procedure
May keep resumes on file for a year Probably won't keep resumes
Recruiters may conduct interviews Founder/owner may conduct interviews
Company literature easily available No printed literature
Website with extensive information and functionality Very limited website or none at all
Online application No online application
Hire months in advance Hire to start immediately
Have long-term personnel forecasts Hire as needs arise
Extensive training program On-the-job training
Predetermined job categories Jobs emerge as needs do