December 31, 2013, 6:35 PM —
I’m job hunting for a new IT job. What are the advantages and disadvantages of working at a big company versus a small company?
First, thank you for your question and good luck in your job search.
There are definite advantages and disadvantages of working at large versus small companies. From a large company perspective, some key advantages are:
• IT hardware, software, process and methodology standards tend to be better defined in larger companies because they have the budgetary ability to have people on staff defining, documenting, and overseeing these standards. As a result, large companies are a great place to learn about IT best practices and IT standards in general.
• By definition, larger companies have more employees than small companies. As a result, over time as people move to other companies, you can more quickly widen your technical contacts within your geographic area.
Key disadvantages of working at big companies include:
• You tend to be assigned to a specific type of technology, application, and or responsibility. As a result, it can be difficult to gain a wide range of experience and skills.
• Big companies are often criticized for having highly active office politics. If office politics are a turnoff for you or if you find them personally difficult to navigate, working within a very large IT shop can be problematic. Certainly small companies can have office politics also, but stereotypically, they tend to be reduced in smaller firms.
Key advantages of working for a small company include:
• Because there are less people to perform needed tasks, there is a greater potential opportunity to work on a wider variety of projects and technologies.
• Smaller companies often have more of a “family” feeling than larger companies. As a result, they can be a great place to work.
• If the small company goes through dramatic growth, there is the chance to grow professionally with it.
Key disadvantages of working for a small company include:
• There is less opportunity for promotion because, due to the power of large numbers, there are less internal open positions to apply for and less internal movement in general.
• Software standards in small companies tend to be less formally defined. As a result, it’s more difficult to learn industry best practices and formal industry standard methodologies.
• If you wish to move toward an IT management role, smaller companies tend to have less promotional opportunities than larger companies.