Should I Work For A Small Company Or A Large Company?

I get asked this question a lot:  Should I work for a big or small company?  Many of our candidates aspire to work for a large company, attracted by what they consider to be the best way to climb the career ladder.  In the UK, the Federation of Small Businesses estimates that 99.9% of privately owned businesses are classified as SMEs employing up to 249 staff; and that they employ over 53% of the UK workforce.  So it is worth looking at working for a smaller company too. 

Having worked for both SMEs and large multinationals, there are benefits to working for both:

  Large Company Small Company
Career Progression You can move upwards or sideways within the company in a structured way. You get the opportunity to grow with the company and take on more responsibility.
Experience You can focus on your role to become an expert in your field. You can get involved with lots of different projects and tasks.


Management Single bad management decisions are less likely to put the company at risk. You are closer to Management so you have an opportunity to work closer to them.
Culture Formal structures, where you are close to your departmental or site based colleagues only. A close knit culture with everyone working together towards the same goal.

Which should you choose?  It all depends on you.  Some people working for a smaller company as it gives them opportunities to get involved in a variety of projects and gain a real sense of satisfaction from growing with a company.  Others prefer the formal structure of a large company.   But it is not always so clear cut.

I my career, I have found some larger companies similar in culture to smaller companies as they are still owned by the founder, are family owned; or that they have a close knit departmental team; whilst another smaller company I worked for had a formal structure from the outset.

Confused?  Don’t be; use the interview to work out whether the company culture, career progression and management style are for you.  If you have always worked for larger companies, you might find that the smaller company interviewing you is perfect for you!