Working for a Large Company vs. Working for a Small Company: The Pros and Cons

When you’re planning your next career move, there are lots of things you need to weigh up: the industry, your salary expectations, what role you want and, of course, the type of company you’d like to work for. Deciding whether or not a company is right for you may involve more aspects than you think – different companies all have a different ethos, individual cultures and working environments. One of the biggest questions you’ll need to ask regarding this is “Do I want to work for a large company or a small company?”

While the role and the money are obviously important factors to bear in mind, the company you’ll be working for will have a massive impact on your job satisfaction. What’s the point in having a whopping salary but being miserable every day? So, picking the right type of company, one that matches your personality and needs, is crucial. For some, a large corporation is the right step, for others it could be a nightmare.

At the end of the day, only you can make the right decision – no one knows you better than you! It can be a tough choice to make, but weighing up the pros and cons for each company type should help you make an informed decision.

Large company vs small company pros and cons

Below, we’ve included a few things to give you a helping hand when weighing up your options:

Large Company

Pros:

A name that speaks for itself – Larger companies are usually a household or, at the very least, an industry renowned brand. This alone is a benefit of working for such a company; the goods/services often sell themselves and having a big name on your CV can be impressive.

Bigger benefits packages – Generally speaking, the bigger the business, the more money they have to spend. They can usually offer their employees excellent perks such as private health care, pensions, childcare and corporate discounts. Sometimes, a bigger company can mean a bigger salary, too.

Multiple locations and sectors – If you plan on being with a company for a long time, it’s nice to know that you have the option to move around. Sometimes, after a while in a job, we realise the role isn’t quite right for us. Larger companies tend to have different divisions or sectors you could potentially move between. There is also more scope for relocation should you require it.

Cons:

Red tape and bureaucracy – The layered multi-sector structure of big corporations can also be a drawback. Decisions are usually made a lot more slowly as they get passed from pillar to post. You tend to be bound by more restrictions and rules, too, causing frustration when you can’t get things done the way you’d like to. Things are a lot more rigid.

Less job satisfaction – As a tiny cog in a massive machine, it’s hard to truly see the fruits of your labour come to light. You’re usually one part of the process, or contributing a small amount to a massive end-result. This can be disheartening for those who really like to see the impact they make at work.

Just a number – The vast number of people working in large companies can mean that you fade into a sea of faces. ID numbers and name badges are often required and there’s rarely a personal feel to your workplace. A lot of co-workers in one place or company, and regular recruitment can often leave you feeling like you work in an office full of strangers.

Small Companies

Pros:

A chance to develop your skill set – Smaller companies tend to adopt an ‘all hands on deck’ kind of attitude. Due to the smaller workforce and more streamlined structure of a small business, there is a chance that employees will end up taking on a variety of responsibilities. Not only will you find it hard to get bored, meaning greater job satisfaction, but you will also be growing your professional skill set. Always handy for the future!

Part of a close-knit team – Working for a small company can feel like being part of a family. Everyone knows everyone and the fact that you are all making a noticeable contribution towards your shared goal really pulls people together. You’re definitely not just a number with a small company and you have more of an opportunity to shine.

Progression – Companies in the early stages of their growth or start-ups are usually looking to expand their team and therefore their structure. This means that progression can be quicker than expected for those that earn it. However, this depends on the type of company, which brings us to the cons.

Cons:

Lack of progression – Some small companies can stay afloat and be successful without any further growth. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! If you find yourself in one of these companies, then you may find it hard to move forward. This doesn’t mean that your responsibilities won’t change or that you won’t get any pay rises, though. If you’re considering such a company, make sure that the role is right for you, or is already a step up, before you say yes. This will keep you more than content for the foreseeable future.

Salary – Again, this depends on the company. Some companies may have less in the pot, so are unable to afford to pay their employees massive salaries. Although, they are usually in line with industry averages to keep things fair. That being said, some smaller businesses have fewer costs and overheads, so they can splash out on bigger salaries.

Nowhere to hide – In a larger company, if you mess up or if you aren’t pulling your weight, it’s usually pretty easy to get away with it. In a smaller company, all eyes are on you. Everyone’s attitude and contributions can have a knock-on effect throughout the whole team. While some people may find this daunting, others are spurred on by this. It makes them work harder and harder work means better results. Which is great because you’re in a small business, so you’ll get the recognition you deserve!

Still unsure? There is a third option to consider

There is actually a way to get the best of both worlds. Working for a large company which operates on a decentralised or franchised basis could give you the power of a big corporation with the freedom of a small company.

If you’re looking for a mix of the pros of working for each type of company, small and large, this could be your best bet. There are fewer restrictions, you tend to have more autonomy and your impact on the business is still visible.

You would still have the support and reputation of a larger company behind you, but more of a say on how things are done. These types of businesses will give you a great balance between a more intimate work environment, but an extended network of people across the umbrella company.

(Like the sound of this kind of company? This is how a lot of our clients work – take a look at our current Graduate and Professional vacancies to find the right role for you!)

Overall, when deciding which type of company you’d like to work for, each of them have their benefits and drawbacks. Prioritising what’s important for you in a job and in an employer, and weighing up all the pros and cons will lead you to make the right choice!

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