Remember: It’s not all about the big names! The backbone of the UK economy is made up of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
The size of a business is based on their annual turnover or how many staff they employ. A ‘big company’ will have more than 250 employees. A business with less than 250 employees is classified as a SME (Small to Medium Enterprise). Companies in this category have a turnover of up to £50 million and/or employ up to 250 people. Also there are ‘micro SMEs’ with up to 10 employees and/or less than £2 million turnover.
What does this mean for your graduate search?
Big companies with recognisable brand names will be extremely popular to a large number of graduates across the country meaning heavy competition for each role available. Recruitment usually opens in September/October and will close as early as December, with interviews in January, so you have to be ‘on it’ and organised with your search as soon as your final year starts. Companies in this category will normally offer graduate schemes and the interview process will often have an assessment centre, some form of a test and a face to face interview. Once you’re in a big company your role will normally be within one particular area of the business for a period of time, with some exposure to other departments over a structured programme.
A smaller business will also offer fantastic career opportunities and development. Did you know there are more smaller businesses than big ones? SMEs tend to offer ‘graduate jobs’ and the interview process is usually more traditional with a face to face interview and a possible test. In a small business you’ll typically get to see more of the business quickly and your role will normally be more varied from the start, meaning you’ll collaborate with colleagues from other areas and develop new skills quickly. In a smaller business, progression might be less immediate but when opportunities do become available you can climb the ladder more quickly.