Your personal brand is, directly or indirectly, tied to your employer’s brand. Work for Google? You must be sharp and highly motivated. Work for AT&T? You must be willing to trade job security for bureaucracy and tedium. Such snap judgments may be inaccurate and unfair, but they happen every day. Once you choose your next employer, you will have altered your personal brand in some way…positively or negatively.
My post last week shared ideas that can help you identify potential employers to target in your job search and career. Sharing such a list with your networking contacts will focus their ideas and generate higher quality “targeted” referrals for you. Once you have completed your initial research and identified a large list of prospective companies, the next step is to narrow your target list by using criteria you consider important. One criteria that I have found to be frequently overlooked is the size of employers. Despite what you may have been told or what you experienced during the last century, I want to alert you to the fact that bigger is not necessarily better.
During the economic and employment boom of the 20th century, big companies tended to grow bigger and bigger. This fueled their needs for more and more employees and managers, which created many opportunities for upward mobility while increasing job security. If you are above the age of 35, you may remember those days. It’s important, though, that everyone now recognize that the 21st century employer landscape has changed dramatically. As I mention in Chapter 10 of my job search book Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!),
Working for large employers and seeking to work for them in the future can be roadblocks to your career progress. Most corporate giants continue to shrink organically, retrench into defensible positions, and grow through the acquisition of smaller competitors. Fortune500 titanic employers are unlikely to offer their employees a desirable corporate culture, personal career growth, or employment security.
But Richard, you say, many of the larger companies are delivering record profits and dominating their industry sectors. Why are you trashing them like this?
My answer is that I am not trashing them. I simply want to share with you that, despite record profits, most large employers are shedding jobs rather than creating them and reducing management positions rather than increasing them. They are reluctant to hire despite their record profits. Hence, they are not the bastions of career opportunity they once were. In addition, most large companies are mildewing in self-induced cultural biospheres where fresh ideas are discouraged. Consequently, it is important that you seriously consider small and mid-sized companies in your mix of targeted employers.
In addition to the number of employees, there are several additional factors to consider when refining a list of companies you want to target for future employment. Such factors include metropolitan area employment dynamics, organic growth, relative financial strength, and how much they value their current employees. Your career opportunities will tend to increase when you focus on working for employers who are:
- located in metro areas……that have strong overall economies
- growing jobs through……internal successes rather than through acquisitions
- financially sound and improving…..both in revenues and profits
- recognized as a great place to work…..by former and current employees
Studies have shown that, as numbers of employees decrease, corporate employee satisfaction generally increases. There are always exceptions to this pattern, but it is important that you keep this in mind when pursuing future employers and considering active job offers. Doing your homework in advance will greatly increase your odds of choosing a great “atmosphere” in which to work while “growing” your career happiness.
What has been your experience? Do you prefer larger or smaller employers?
Best wishes for your success!
Richard Kirby is an executive career consultant, speaker on career strategies, and author of Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!). Richard Kirby’s earlier experience includes managing engineering, human resources, marketing and sales teams for employers that ranged from a Fortune 100 to a VC-funded entrepreneurial startup. For the past 11 years at Executive Impact, Richard has helped hundreds of executives and professionals successfully navigate today’s transformed 21st century job market and achieve better employment for themselves. Richard’s expertise includes career assessments and goal setting, personal marketing/branding, resume enhancement, strategic networking and job interviewing, and “contrarian” job search methodologies. He is a Board Certified Coach (in career coaching) and a Certified Management Consultant (recognized by the ISO).