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Can I grow my career in a Small to Medium Enterprise (SME)?
Multinational companies (MNCs) are traditionally more appealing to candidates looking to move into a new role, and I can understand why. MNCs have the brand recognition, good compensation packages, solid training and development programs and a relatively transparent recruitment process.
All these benefits, when compared to Small to Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), can make them seem like a better option. However, is there more than what meets the eye?
Throughout my experience in recruitment, I have seen many candidates who want to get into sizable multinationals because they think they should or deserve to work for these big names, given their experience and background. However, by looking only at the size of the company, candidates are missing one major consideration for choosing their next job.
I always ask them the question: what do you want to achieve in the next step in your career?
In the following, I will list a few advantages of working in SMEs. I am not trying to say SMEs will always be the best choice for your next step, but I will let you know the advantages and benefits of joining a smaller company versus a bigger one. If the advantages of joining an SME match with what you want to achieve… then why not?
Advantages of continuing your career with an SME:
- You can make significant contributions to the business and implement projects for the whole lifecycle.
- You will have broader exposure to different tasks, as SMEs will usually have one department that handles multiple functions, while MNCs will be more specialised.
- You will have more room for creativity and innovation, as the rules and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are less rigid at smaller companies.
- You will have more chances to interact with decision makers and senior members.
- You will be able to achieve salary increments and promotions in a shorter timeline than in companies with a more structured and restricted HR policy.
- The hierarchy is usually flatter and your contribution will be more easily recognised by management.
Many candidates might think that having some “big names” on your CV will be beneficial to your career; I half-agree with that. It’s true in some cases that if the scenario comes up that Candidates A and B have the same exposure, experience and achievement, with the only differences being that Candidate A worked for a recognizable brand, a company may be more inclined to choose Candidate A.
However, in the end, what a potential employer or recruiter will really focus on will be the responsibilities you had, tasks you handled, overall experience, major achievements and your personality and culture fit within the existing team.
Furthermore, I have faced many situations in which a candidate with solid working experience and great exposure from an SME wins the job of a large sizable conglomerate over those candidates who have big names on their CVs with specialised experience.
There is no definite answer for which company size - MNCs or SMEs - is better for your career development. As mentioned earlier, it really depends on what you want to achieve in a role. However, if the question is whether or not you can grow your career in an SME, the answer is, without a doubt – Yes!