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Small in Culture, Big in Opportunities

Having had the experience of being both an employee and an HR Specialist in both large and small offices, here are some unmatched advantages of being part of a small team in the business world, as I see them…

Getting in…
When large firms advertise employment opportunities, they are typically inundated with applications. The well put together, creative & personalized cv that you worked so hard to create gets 120 seconds of a deadline-pressured HR associate. Smaller companies often have the time and an actual participant in the decision-making process screen applications. I often review candidates twice and telephone screen more candidates than I would have had time to speak with at a larger company.

This gives the candidate that very precious ‘foot in the door’ to make an impression and discuss their skills.

Once you are there…
Small offices are great places to learn and grow. Often employees have more autonomy and less hoops to jump through to get approval on projects. If you are sitting in on a project meeting with the President and he or she says ‘go’ – you are free to move forward rather than wait for someone else to get the approval & for it to trickle down to you.

There are more opportunities to work directly with clients & customers, many of whom prefer working with small businesses because of the degree of personal service offered. At Mandevco, this is one of our core values – but we will leave that for another blog post! In larger firms, client contact is reserved for senior associates, denying younger employees the exposure to valuable hands-on experience and growth.

Tight Spaces… or The Sandbox….
Small companies tend to work in smaller spaces, open areas, group work stations all of which oblige employees to be friendly (if not diplomatic) with each other. You are often a first-name basis with your bosses as you are with your colleagues. There can be more collaboration and less competition (as there are fewer of you doing the same job) and this leads to a friendlier and supportive working environment. Actually working with (not just for) your boss can open the door to mentoring and collaboration opportunities that might otherwise be miles out of reach.

Employers have been experiencing shifting employment trends seeing young professionals drawn to the opportunity to meet challenges, make meaningful decisions and work on their own terms. Smaller companies are able to offer this.

Wearing Many Hats…
There is no doubt that in a large corporation you can get lost in the shuffle. Smaller firms ask employees wear many hats and take on more roles thus exposing them to more aspects of what makes the business tick. If you are not there for a day or a week, can someone fill in? Who takes up the slack when your boss is on vacation? All are opportunities to  learn and grow.

Small is not for everyone…
Don’t get me wrong, small offices are not for everyone. You need to be one heck of a team player to succeed in a small company. Collaboration, sharing the limelight and communication are but a few of the keys to success in a small pond. If you are looking for ladders to climb, you will fade away quickly. Small businesses are like families with their ups and downs, some days are better than others, but the bottom line is that smaller companies are great places to be who you are, recognized for you are and the contributions you make.

Jennifer Croll Wolfe – Talent and Culture Specialist