Employment in Small Business May Be Your Best Bet
by C.S. Clarke,Ph.D.
Are you looking for a job and feeling like it is an impossible task in these days of layoffs and cost cutting? Perhaps you are searching in the wrong place. If you are one of the millions of folks that target larger employers, you are missing the truly largest sources of employment available: small and medium size businesses. Over 99 percent of employers in the United States are businesses with fewer than 500 employees (most of which have fewer than 100 employees) and almost half of those businesses have fewer than 20 employees.
Despite those well-publicized statistics, the greatest amount of advice on job hunting, resume writing and career development seems to be primarily applicable to large employers, or at least to the larger of the medium-size employers. And the online job boards seem to cater to the larger employers as well.
Most of your competition is looking to the employer with more than 100 employees. Perhaps a strategy that includes the smaller businesses would make that breakthrough for you.
The availability of more jobs in the small business sector is certainly an advantage, but there are many other advantages as well.
1. In a small business, there are no layers of bureaucracy to navigate to get to the hiring authority. And they are looking for a job candidate, they want someone now. You usually don't have to wait three weeks to find out if you need to come in for a second interview and more screening. If you're going to get the job, you'll get it fast.
2. Without a bureaucracy to issue hard and fast rules about job requirements, you have a greater ability to convince the employer that if your skill set and/or experience does not exactly cover their "want list," you can indeed do the job -- maybe better than with the exact skills or experience they originally listed. Or they may be willing to train you or give you time to upgrade your skills while on the job.
3. The job most likely will be local. You won't have to interview in and move to another city,
4. Local jobs in small business are more often listed in local classifieds and in services like Craigslist.com. They're easier to find and get when you only have a small network or when it is your first or second job.
5. It is easier to "work your network" to find jobs in small businesses. The chances are greater that someone in your social network (family, friends, schoolmates, fellow parishioners, etc.) will know a potential employer at the small business level. You don't have to have an extensive business/career network.
6. You can get greater responsibility and opportunity for experience and learning in a small business position.
7. If your occupation is one that is often practiced as a small business, such as, say, accounting, you are getting the type of experience you need to go out on your own later. Something you would not be getting in a cubicle farm. Not to mention that there may be partnership opportunities.
8. Small, well-run businesses often have a family-like atmosphere. You get to know the people there. All of them or most of them. You can be more comfortable with coworkers and your boss than in a large, anonymous organization.
Of course, there are some glaring disadvantages:
1. The smaller the business, the more it is driven by the values and personality of the owner. If the owner is a jerk, you have no place to retreat to just do your job and keep away from him until you can transfer to another department. He (or she) is in your face. Nevertheless, you can find the "boss from hell" in every organization and whether it's a large organization or small, you'll still end up having to find another job.
2. In addition to the "boss from hell" is the "coworker from hell." Just as with the boss, in a small organization it is more difficult to get space between you and him/her.
3. It is generally true that pay is less and benefits are fewer in smaller business.
4. You can't "climb the corporate ladder," since there are so few positions, your resume will not show the steady progression to higher levels that corporate hiring directors like to see to back up their decision to hire you. So if you want to move into larger organizations, you may have a harder sell.
Regardless of the advantages and disadvantages of jobs in small business, the one big advantage still holds: jobs in small business are easier and faster to get. Go get one.