Pros and Cons of Working for a Small Company and Finding Small Firms

Business Forecast
••• Ferran Traite Soler/Vetta/Getty Images

Job searching is a numbers game. In order to successfully find employment, you need to target a wide range of employers. The more resumes you distribute, and the more you network, the better chance you have of landing interviews, and a job.

Why You Should Think Small

Unfortunately, most candidates seeking employment often ignore smaller employers and focus their efforts on larger firms. However, small firms may be in a better position to hire you, and there are more of them. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses represent more than 99.7 percent of all employers. They also employ more than half of all private sector employees, pay 44.5 percent of the total U.S. private payroll, and generate about 75 percent of net new jobs annually.

Small companies tend to have business plans progressive enough that they are able to succeed regardless of how the economy is doing. They tend to be nimble and excel at finding their niche, regardless of the field. Also, small firms usually don't have the large overhead burdened by the big companies with fancy addresses and designer lobbies. 

The Pros of Working for a Small Company

Work roles at small companies are often less specialized than at large firms. That means employees get to wear several hats, interact with staff more often and are afforded a 360-degree view of company-wide operations. Because employees have more visibility, it is often easier to advance in a smaller organization.

Another benefit is that employees often gain experience in a variety of areas, giving them multiple skills and areas of expertise to enhance their resume. Small firms may also have more flexibility when it comes to considering alternative work arrangements such as flextime and job sharing. Working for a small company can also be a good stepping-stone to a larger employer in the same field.

The Cons of Working for a Small Company

On the downside, small firms may have fewer formal training programs and their benefits packages can be more limited. Additionally, opportunities to transfer to other departments may be limited or non-existent. You may also encounter less opportunity for growth and promotion at a small firm.

How to Find Small Companies

If you want to target small firms, the INC 5000 list is a great starting point. The entire list is accessible for free online and updated annually. That said, you should also do some research on your own because you never know when the tide will turn and a company will downsize, relocate overseas, or go out of business. 

Vault.com has a searchable database of companies as well and is worth looking at. Job seekers can look up a company by name or search by industry, city, state, country, the number of employees, and revenue. You can also get career advice and help with resume writing. You may even find message boards where you can get the inside scoop on the company culture. Other resources for identifying small emerging companies include local chambers of commerce and the business section of your local newspaper.

Information on new companies and updates on local businesses are typically published on a regular basis.