As a young professional, you are often faced with the question of whether you want to work for a small or a large company. But which company size is better for starting a career?
Wiesbaden, April 29, 2022. Due to demographic developments – and fueled by the COVID 19 crisis – the labour market has become an employee market in many sectors, so companies have to fight for the best talent. This offers opportunities for career starters, but at the same time the decision for an employer should be well-considered. One important indicator is the size of the company.
Small companies: steep learning curve & participation
In a small company, you will have significantly more responsibility and thus a broader range of work from the very beginning than in a large company. On the one hand, this is because there are simply not as many individual jobs and different departments as in a large company. On the other hand, due to the flatter hierarchy and direct contact with the board of directors, the communication channels are shorter and the distribution of tasks correspondingly more generous. This guarantees a steep learning curve and also determines the salary development as well. You are more or less in constant exchange with the entire team, gain a lot of working experience and gain insights into all areas of the company. You are involved in projects as a whole and a part of the success. The regular exchange with the board of directors also enables constant feedback and ensures that you can help shape the company and its development.
The big disadvantage of a small company is that starting salaries are sometimes lower than in large companies. Stays abroad are possible, e.g. in the form of secondments, but the organization is much more time-consuming compared to larger companies. In addition, the motto “create your own job” applies in smaller companies, i.e. more personal initiative and flexibility is required. Therefore, one should also be able to adapt.
Big companies: fixed structures, lots of politics
On the other hand, those who are looking for fixed structures and processes are more likely to find happiness in large companies. Here, entry-level salaries can sometimes be higher and the supposed opportunities for promotion also seem better at first glance. Stays abroad are much easier to organise by changing locations within your own company. Due to the size of the company, there is a clear, often hierarchical structure, which means that you tend to have little contact with colleagues outside your own department. The communication channels are correspondingly large.
However, the predefined career ladder in large companies also ensures that promotions are hotly contested and competition can develop between colleagues (keyword: politics). Therefore, at second glance, the chances of promotion are not better than in small companies. One’s own influence on the company is often marginal and the influence of one’s own performance on a project is often difficult to identify due to the size of the project.
Small or large company: which is better?
From our point of view, the advantages of a small company outweigh the disadvantages. Because of the greater responsibility right from the start, you are challenged to find your way around in a broader area. The learning curve is correspondingly large. However, you have to like the required flexibility. Fixed structures and work processes are more common in large companies. The final choice should therefore be well-considered.
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Michael Diegelmann: Founder and Board Member
Michael Diegelmann has gained experience in over 150 communication projects (IPOs, investor relations, ESG, M&A, crisis) and has been working in the field of capital market communication since 1997. He is the author of 16 book publications relevant to the capital market and was previously project manager at an international consultancy and a Frankfurt brokerage house.