Do you realize that most new job growth in the U.S. comes from small business? Yet, most students concentrate their job search to Fortune 500 corporations or other large, well-known companies with defined and approachable personnel departments. But don't forget the small companies! Generally, any business with 200 or fewer employees is considered a small company. Small businesses are providing the economy with a wealth of jobs (nearly two-thirds of all new jobs!) and revenue. Small businesses are an economic powerhouse that know you by your first name.
Life in a small organization is very different from that in a large organization. Small companies tend to offer an informal atmosphere, an all-for-one camaraderie, and require more versatility and dedication on the part of the company and workers. Small companies are usually growing so they are constantly redefining themselves and the positions within them. Look at the following list of small company traits and consider which of them are advantages and which are disadvantages for you.
Because most small companies do not have extensive training programs, they look for certain traits in potential employees. You will do well in a small company if you are:
There are fewer limitations, and it's up to you to make the best of that freedom. A small business often has a strong company culture, imposed by a dominant leader. Learn that company's culture; notice its style.
One of the biggest hurdles in finding a job in a small business is getting to a hiring person. Good timing is critical. The sporadic growth of many small companies means sporadic job openings, so you need to network. A small business tends to fill its labor needs informally through personal contacts and recommendations from employees. Job hunters must find their way into the organization and approach someone with hiring authority. This means that you must take the initiative. Once you have someone's attention, you must convince them that you can do something for them.
Large: Centralized personnel department
Small: No personnel department
Large: Formal recruiting program with recruiters seeking out potential employees
Small: No full-time recruiters
Large: Standardized hiring procedures
Small: No standard hiring procedures
Large: Keep resumes on file for a specified period of time
Small: Usually won't keep resumes
Large: Interview often held with recruiters and managers
Small: Interview held with the founder or direct boss
Large: Company literature usually available
Small: No printed literature
Large: Hiring done months in advance of starting date
Small: Hire to begin immediately
Large: Formal training programs
Small: On-the-job training
Large: Predetermined job categories
Small: Jobs emerge to fit needs
Do your homework on the company, and persuade the company to hire you through your initiative and original thinking. If you haven't graduated yet, offer to work for them as an intern. This will give you experience, and if you do well, there's a good chance that a job will be waiting on graduation day.
Adapted with permission from the Career Resource Manual of the University of California, Davis.