By Alina Dizik
Some small companies offer a less formal hiring process and can make job openings seem less competitive with fewer gatekeepers to impress. Especially, if you’ve been out of the workforce for a while, taking time to dig for opportunities at smaller firms can be a good way to seek out employment. Small “companies are much less likely to be on your competition’s radar and that increases your chances of success in your job search,” says says John Crant, a career coach and founder of selfrecruiter.com. But once you’ve found a position, says Mr. Crant, it’s important to understand what to expect from working at a smaller company, like having less work security and taking on multiple roles.
Here, Mr. Crant talks about finding work at a small company:
What approach should a job seeker take when beginning to look for work at a small business?
Start by finding just one individual with a similar background or skill set as yourself. Do a People Search on LinkedIn to find this starter profile. Take a look at where they worked before joining their current company. Start by creating a list with this first new company name, and continue. Now search their current employer’s name to find other individuals similar to your function. Now you have a list of people to look through and this is where you can begin to create a larger list. These are companies that individuals, similar to yourself, went to work for after leaving this current company. Some will inevitably be larger companies that you have heard about, but many will be these smaller companies that you have never heard of before.
What are some qualities to highlight during the interview?
Highlight your abilities to work independently, without the need for too much support. Illustrate through example where you have taken the reigns and have worn several hats at once. Show them that you can bring significant industry expertise to their team. This will help a smaller company manager see you as just the self-sufficient addition with the expertise that they may be looking for to solve their needs. Of course, be sure to convey that you are a team player too, but they should feel you are happy and ready to expand your role and wear multiple hats as needed.
Is networking more important than in larger organizations?
In smaller companies it’s much more like a family. Contact and network with several individuals within the company, and work to build chemistry with these contacts that you may uncover. As your dialogue with the company evolves and they begin to discuss you internally, you will have already warmed up those discussions of you by laying a foundation of chemistry through your networking activities.
What are some mistakes that job seekers make when applying for work at a small business?
The largest single mistake is when individuals with large company background fail in their roles in these smaller companies, underestimating the level and type of support you will have in your job function. Yes, you need to do what you did for the larger company, but you very likely will also need to do the support functions that others performed for you in your previous role.
How have smaller companies taken advantage of talent during the recession?
As in past recessions, smaller companies have asked their employees to do even more to help the companies survive and thrive. But after a while, all of that extra workload must be redistributed by hiring new talent. Make sure to position yourself as an asset that can help these smaller companies take that next step in their own growth.
Readers, are you seeking work at a smaller company? Share your stories in the comments section.