After having worked in a big firm and then joined a small firm that grew to a large one, I noticed the evolution of a firm and the opportunities that came along the way of this evolution process. By virtue of my job in Recruitment industry and due to personal interest, I have personally spoken to thousands of professionals at crossroads of their work-life seeking advice. I have noticed young people and freshers from colleges anxious and confused staring at alternatives before them; almost every mid-career professional gets the itch to do something different; and the list goes on to tell me that there is a lot of confusion that can be easily avoided.
What’s the difference – a Big Firm and a Small Firm?
The differences are along multiple dimensions: pay, career path possibilities, stability etc. Big firms typically score better compared to small firms on all these aspects given their history, established work methods, predictable work hours, budgets for employee benefits and development.
However, given the volatility and fast-paced environment that we live in, some of these could change quickly. We experienced them in a large-scale at the time of global financial crisis. Large firms cut pays, reduced employees and couldn’t honour their commitments to their current and future employees. And after the crisis, firms have kept their bench strength to the minimum, optimized their workforce on a periodic basis, laid off people, outsourced activities, transformed several work processes and so on; these events have had serious impacts on the careers of their employees. And many so-called small firms have grown, have been agile to seize market opportunities, grown the careers and salaries of their staff at a much higher pace than what one could expect.
So, the point is not to paint the canvas with one brush. One should rather evaluate how good the pay is; And estimate how well the career could grow, how stable the work-life could be, based on the past track record of the organization, their management practices and the outlook for the industry sector the firm belongs to.
While there are several online resources available to understand the work culture, one can carefully discuss these during the recruiting process with the head-hunter and the interviewers. Also, one can tune into various social and professional contacts to get insights of how the firm fares on these factors.
So, it’s a misnomer that a Big firm pays better, offers multiple growth options and brings in stability to one’s career.
Know what excites you!
Often it’s not the size of the company that matters. Rather it is the personality traits that matter significantly in making a career choice. There is no job that is necessarily bad or good on an absolute basis!
Large teams and firms are like an ocean while the small companies are like small ponds. One can choose what is more attractive – a big fish in a small pond shouldering many responsibilities and charting the unbeaten path or one among a million in the ocean living in harmony and peace.
Each option has its own charm. The differences here are in terms of the visibility, name recognition, risk of failure, speed of action and the possibility to influence the future. We know for sure that each human being based one one’s context and personal preference finds one more attractive than the other.
So, it’s simple : know your context and personal preferences; do your research and make the choice!