Graduate Careers - Big vs Small Company

Posted on Saturday, June 25, 2022 by Editorial TeamNo comments

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.

How to remain resilient when applying for graduate jobs

Let’s face it – receiving a rejection from an employer for a job you really want is not a great feeling. You are bound to feel disappointed upset and perhaps even a little frustrated. The best thing to do is not let a setback hinder you from continuing your job search. Resilience is key and here is some of our top tips to help you to keep going:

  • Quality not quantity: Although it is tempting to send off many applications at once for lots of different employers it is so important to tailor every application you send. If you struggle with this – book an appointment with one of our employability advisers to explain what tailoring involves
  • Ask for feedback: Don’t be afraid to call up the employer or send them an email to ask for more detailed feedback. Some companies don’t always do this but there is no harm in asking
  • Learn from your mistakes: If you find you are continuing to receive rejections from your applications it may be that you need to reconsider the documents you are sending. Are you being detailed enough in your examples? Don’t continue to send the same applications if you have received feedback suggesting to make changes.
  • Listen to advice: ask a friend, relative or one of our helpful advisers to take a look at your application to provide some feedback
  • Consider a bridging role: you have your heart set on a graduate job but this doesn’t always work out. Don’t be afraid to enrol on an internship or graduate scheme to get your foot in the door
  • Don’t give up – there is a graduate position out there for you. It just takes hard work, persistence and constant improvement during the application process.
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