I was asked a few months ago: Why are you working for a small company (again), if you already worked for a big MNC in the past? Shouldn’t you just use working for a small company as a stepping stone to joining MNCs?” Good question, the first thing I told the person.
Let me preface by saying that I’m in this weird place of being “on the outside looking in”. As a Recruiter, I get dibs and dabs on how companies operate, based on my interaction with clients and candidates. Through these interactions, I gained a lot of insight that I won’t have if I had a different job. Couple that with my nerd-like habit of reading up on business news, opinion pieces, online forums, and watching business-related documentaries, and my perspective broadens more. As a cherry on top, I got the opportunity to work for a large firm with a regional/global presence for about three years.
Enough preface. What was my answer to the question?
Something along the lines of It depends on what you want out of your life and your career.
For more context, I will make some comparisons.
Multinational Companies (MNCs)
Based on my stint working for an international and listed company, I would say working for a large global firm gives you and your credentials a confidence boost. You experience the luxury and prestige of working in a glamorous work environment, the pay and benefits are good, and you get to work with people from diverse backgrounds. Also, there are many internal opportunities, if the organization allows it, be it locally or overseas. On the other hand, international companies tend to be bogged down by long and bureaucratic processes that delay decision-making. Additionally, with more people on board, there seems to be more politicking especially if the environment is competitive. More importantly, international companies are probably more at risk of large-scale instability, job cuts, etc.
Small-Medium Enterprises / Small Companies (SMEs)
On the flip side, I’m team SME now and I’m well aware of the bad rep SMEs get. However, let me vouch for them. In SMEs (at least where I’m at) the decision-making is more straightforward, work processes can be shorter or simpler, competition is less, and there are fewer politics. You can focus on work more as there is less need to keep up with “appearances”. Of course, there are factors like less than stellar pay, job descriptions that are all over the place, management with a traditional or top-down approach, modest to non-existent market reputation, insane working hours. etc. I’m not going to lie, I’ve experienced some of these things to some extent. But do I lose sleep over it or are they breaking points that will make me leave the job? Do MNCs not have these same things?
With fewer bars held, my practical answer to the question is: Due to life circumstances, I chose to join an SME again. This decision aligned with my season of life where my quest for “career prestige” has died down over this decade-plus of working. I’d like to use this platform, both as a Recruiter and as a normal salaried person to give small companies a chance. Most countries make up a huge chunk of them. Let’s remove the stigma that if you didn’t come from an MNC, you didn’t “make it”. Truth be told, this is not how I envisioned my career 10+ years ago, and not many people share this mindset. So I have to discover for myself, intentionally the joys and freedoms of a non-glamorous environment. Boomerang-ing back to an SME made me realize that I should view work as a means to earn money and contribute to society fairly, not solely as a source of identity and success.
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