Have you considered starting your career at an SME (small to medium-sized enterprise)?
In graduate recruitment the spotlight is often on graduate schemes or jobs with large, multinational companies, mostly because they have a further reach and tend to be present at graduate fairs. Jobs at SMEs can be harder to find, even though there are plenty of them out there, with companies with less than 250 employees constituting over 90% of the private sector in Australia, the US and the UK.
So why do these jobs have less visibility? Smaller firms usually have smaller budgets for recruitment, which means they’re more likely to rely on local online job boards and their own website and social media pages to advertise new openings, as well as referrals and recommendations.
Following their social media pages will allow you to be the first to know when they’re recruiting, while it’s also worth checking on LinkedIn whether you have any connections that work at the company you’re interested in who could refer you. Alternatively, you could send out a speculative application. While this may seem quite daunting, it’s a great way to demonstrate your enthusiasm and commitment.
While you may have to make more of an effort to find a job with an SME, there are many benefits to starting your career at one, most notably the intimate learning experience that they can offer. While an SME might have less resources to send you on a training course, you can expect to get a lot of varied experience ‘on the job’ as teams are generally smaller and individuals are therefore expected to take on a lot of different tasks. You can also expect to get more responsibility, sooner, and your contributions are much more visible in a smaller business. While job security may be less stable, less strictly defined job roles mean there’s often more flexibility in terms of the direction you can take your career.
So, what do SMEs commonly look for in candidates? Cultural fit is often really important, while having a great set of transferable skills, including communication, teamwork, self-management, adaptability and creativity skills is also key in taking on the varied roles they tend to offer. They also usually want people who will stay with them for a while, so showing enthusiasm and a true interest to grow with the company is important too.
If you’re looking to be part of a close-knit team, keen to take on responsibility and feel comfortable with change and unpredictability, then an SME could be a good fit for you. So, what are you waiting for? Start applying!