Aim for the right size company based on your work interest
For those looking to invent or evolve new technology or process, small companies out of necessity and the larger ones with deep pockets can be good employers.
Conversely, if looking to work and build expertise in industry standard systems or processes, the mid-size firms may be the place for you.
This also has implications on the training you will receive, job portability, tenure, and the opportunity to take on contracting assignments vs. full time employment.
Let’s expand on these themes some more.
Working for a small company
The smallest companies need to stand out and do something different and better in order to survive and thrive.
The focus will be on innovation in systems, technologies, or ways of working to demonstrate differentiation and a reason to exist.
With limited means, they will tend to use standardized tools and processes for their operations, which can be acquired off the shelf and require minimal training and investment to implement.
Working with a mid-size
A mid-size organization has experienced success and grown. With this confidence, it will aim to grow even larger and given its size, is likely to see opportunity to gain market share, grow in contiguous areas or both.
The successful companies will be disciplined in investing in the higher potential areas of growth while ensuring a similar disciplined focus on operational excellence to keep the registers ringing.
Having prioritized their resources more towards areas for business growth, they will lean towards adoption of accessible, affordable, and also easier to acquire tools, technologies, and talent to run their operations – thereby leaning towards those which are industry standard and can be implemented with low investment and customization
Working for large companies
Larger companies have reached a scale where they have a meaningful share of their markets. In order to grow, they need to innovate to create new streams of revenue. With deeper pockets, they can direct significant resources into their innovation for growth initiatives and can and will invest in building proprietary IP, processes, and systems to differentiate themselves.
Their size will draw both media and regulatory attention which will compel them to be seen on the right side of societal and regulatory norms and meaningful investments will go into initiatives of inclusion, compliance, and CSR.
With this as a backdrop, let us outline what implications it has for individuals looking to work for these types of companies.
So if your interest is
Building from scratch and innovating
Something which is niche and can be done with limited resources to start with– work for a small company which aligns with your interests.
For innovation in processes, systems, technology which requires large resources aim for the larger companies. That is where the big money is available to fund innovation
Specialization in industry standard systems and processes
Both small and mid-size companies will aim to adopt lower cost and easier to deploy standardized systems and processes for their operational needs.
If you are looking to specialize and work on standardized technologies and processes, work for mid-size companies. Their deployments and operations will be significantly larger than their smaller brethren and having reached a critical size, the likelihood of work continuity will also be higher.
Working in the compliance and CSR streams
As companies grow, and become visible, they come under greater scrutiny for not only their performance, but also to be seen as taking the right steps for their stakeholders and society, be it in corporate social responsibility, statutory compliance or diversity and inclusion.
For those inclined to participate and build careers in these activities, the mid-size firms may offer opportunity, but the best opportunities and careers will be with the large companies.
Job portability and opportunities across companies
Working on/with the industry standard systems, technologies or processes allows greater transferability and portability across peer companies.
The mid-size companies are more likely to adopt these industry standard systems & processes. As they grow larger, there is higher likelihood of the standard systems getting customized or even outsourced.
If you are looking to high job portability, specialize in industry standard systems or processes and aim to work with the mid-size companies.
Tenure with your employer
Aiming to innovate and differential, the smallest and largest companies create processes, technologies and systems which are unique. They are less likely to find resources externally which can be readily deployed on these and hence will need to acquire and train. (You might want to read - Where to acquire the skills for your job)
Once trained and productive, it will be in the interest of both the employer and employee to stay on and deliver over time – thereby ensuring greater tenure in employment.
With standardized systems and processes, more prevalent in the mid-size companies, resources can be acquired externally. There will be a higher scrutiny of employees with the lesser performers under continuous risk of replacement. Industry standard systems/processes are also more amenable to being outsourced which creates another risk to employee tenure.
If you are looking for tenured employment, aim to work in the unique processes/systems of your employer. Your odds of finding these will be higher with the smaller or the largest companies. Aim for the healthier ones who can not only invest but also are doing well and hence offer assurance of the tenure.
The opportunity for contract employment
Standardization is the ally of a contractor. Learn once, deploy many times.
If you are thinking of working as a contractor, the lightly customized systems & processes of the mid-size companies and with some large companies will be the areas to engage in.
If you are looking for work which requires creating new processes, systems or technologies, work for the small or very large companies.
Ensuring that you are engaged in the areas where your employer is looking to differentiate itself will make you a recipient of ongoing training and also facilitate tenure with your employer.
On the other hand, if you are looking to work with standardized industry processes, systems, or technologies, the mid-size companies may present better opportunities. Working as an employee or a contractor, get engaged when a company is investing into your area of specialization and when done, move on to the next organization.
Keep swinging !