One of the number one requests of prospective employees on a job interview with a search firm is - "Move me to a small company". "I'm tired of corporate America - I want to work for a small company where I can really make a difference and have a significant impact." Most people working in the employment or search industry have heard this from over 70% of the people interviewed as their desired career change request.

In addition to the desire to really make a difference and have a significant impact, most employees state they want to work for a small company because they want to "escape company politics". Company politics, although with varying levels of intensity, exist in almost every organization.

Working for a small company does have many benefits for employees, and small companies are where the significant growth is in America. Across the country, only 20% of the labor force works for employers with 500 or more employees. Also, in Allegheny County, 92% of employers have less than 50 employees. I'm sure this is a shocking statistic to many readers, but reality is that growth is in the small business community of America. Before you tender your resignation and join a small company, you must face the realities of working for a small employer and be certain you really will be able to make the adjustments.

Realities:

  • You will be able to make a major impact in a small company but you will also be very visible to everyone. This means your performance and contribution to the bottom-line will definitely be under a major spotlight. You will very quickly be seen as a "hard worker/contributor" or a "bad hire".
  • You will have the opportunity to interface directly with the Founder, CEO, and President every day; but, do you have the communication skills, interpersonal skills and political skills to handle those encounters. You will not have a "buffer" between you and the CEO. It may be time to invest in your business communication skills.
  • Are you ready to handle multiple priorities at every level? If you move to a small company, you will never do one job or one task. You will handle multiple tasks and projects at every level. One day you may be making a presentation to a potential million-dollar customer and the next day you may be answering the phone. If you have a "hang-up" with typing your own information - you should probably stay in a large company. Resources in a small company are not as readily available as they are in a large company.
  • There is no such thing as "9 to 5" in a small company. If you do not like working overtime when necessary, you should not work for a small company. With a smaller number of employees, often comes evening and weekend work. Always remember, with greater opportunity and compensation, come greater demands.
  • If you are accustomed to a very structured environment, you will not like a small company. When you join a small company, you leave behind that dreaded phenomenon - "bureaucracy". You also leave behind formally structured meetings, processes, policies, etc. in some small companies.
  • If you need a regimented environment to feel comfortable and succeed, you will not enjoy a fast-paced, dynamic small organization.

The Employment Paper is offering readers a wonderful opportunity to educate themselves on various employment topics. Often, a person makes a career move without facing the realities of an exciting yet demanding culture. Small businesses in the US today are offering employees a more flexible work environment, telecommuting, bonuses, stock options and a more casual work environment. In addition, they are offering employees that desired chance to really make a significant impact and not be "only a number".

Be fair to your new employer and realize the work environment will be exciting and yet demanding. Be very, very careful what you ask for . . . you will definitely get it.

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