As a recent graduate, you may be zoning in on those FTSE 100 companies, but with few opportunities per graduate and COVID in our midst, targeting a Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) could be an equally positive first career move.
In the UK in 2020, SMEs (defined as those employing 250 people or fewer) accounted for 99% of all businesses and employed 61% of the workforce. Although SMEs have lower profiles, turnover and employees, there are plenty of reasons why working for one is an attractive option, and here are just some of them:
Better understanding of industry and business
In a small company, you get to know the inner workings of each department, which can lead you to better understand the business as a whole. This will help you both move between departments more easily if you want to change career track and be better at your current role.
Greater involvement and investment in your career
Because an SME has invested so much into you relative to the money they make, they want to get the very best out of you. This will definitely involve more one-to-one focus on your career, and it may include learning new skills, broadening your knowledge or trying out working in a different aspect of the business.
More varied roles
As a smaller company, you’ll be required to take on projects and work outside your designated position. This will keep you working life exciting and interesting, and it can also help you to discover aspects of the business that you really enjoy beyond your own.
More likely to get noticed
Because there are fewer people, if you do put in the effort, and perform well, everyone will know that it’s you that's done it. If you are consistent with your efforts, it’s therefore easier to get promoted and move up the ranks in an SME as you can prove your worth. If you do make a big difference to your company, especially their bottom line, it will make a difference to your overall career prospects as well.
However it does mean that there’s no one to hide behind when something does go wrong and you’re the one at fault!
Working for an SME means that you are more likely to get to know your colleagues as well as your clients. This can bode well for a good work-life balance, and stand in your favour when you need help from colleagues at certain times in your life (and you will be able to help them where they are in need). In turn, this will make for a positive working environment and you’ll be jumping out of bed in anticipation every morning!
More likely to be listened to
When offering a valuable opinion, you’ll be the only one with that knowledge and experience, therefore you are more likely for that suggestion to be followed up or taken on board. With your suggestions working a treat, the positive cycle will continue, with the company continually asking you for advice, the business doing well, you getting noticed, and in turn, promoted.
Scope to innovate
Because there are fewer people to make decisions within an SME, it’s quicker to get an idea off the ground. If one aspect of the business is failing or the market has changed and needs to pivot, you’ll get your new ideas out there in no time!