Is it better for your career if you work for name-brand companies?
Today, the answer to that question is somewhat complicated.
Google, Bank of America, Exxon. Get a job at a big, well-known brand like these and you won’t have as much explaining to do to friends and family when they ask where you work. Same goes when you’re talking to recruiters. So, you’re better off working for a blue chip company early in your career right?
Well, let’s say the answer to that question is a definite maybe. Here are the pros and the cons of associating your brand with that of a household name.
You learn about core business practices
Big companies have big numbers to hit. There’s more money at stake and more people working toward the goals.
As a result, working for a large business, “you’ll learn about process, politics, performance, hiring, responsibility, and perhaps most importantly, KPIs [key performance indicators] and how to track results and impact,” says James Sinclair, principal at EnterpriseAlumni, an enterprise software company in Los Angeles.
Learning about these realities early in your career will not only better prepare you for the corporate world in the future, but it can also be a useful learning experience if you plan to someday go on to start their own companies.
You get the benefit of brand association
Recruiters spend about six seconds scanning your resume before making a decision for the yes or no pile. So which name do you think a recruiter will linger longer on—Facebook or South Dakota Social Media Agency? Nothing against South Dakota, but Facebook is more likely to turn a few heads.
Benedicta Banga, author of Gradstrategy: How to Land Your Perfect Career After Graduation, says that working for a top brand holds a major advantage when applying for future jobs. “When hiring managers look at candidates and recognize a big name, it instantly creates an impression of a well-trained candidate with a lot of valuable experience and knowledge,” she says.
You get a built-in network
Similar to having a name brand on your resume, listing one in your work experience on social networking sites or your online portfolio can give you a leg up on other candidates. You have the advantage of being part of a large network of current and former employees, whom you can easily connect with previous and current employees on social platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter.
“Building an intentional personal presence helps people find you online and in-person,” says Jen Dalton, CEO and founder at BrandMirror, a personal branding consultancy located in Oakton, Virginia.
Your responsibilities may be narrow
While it’s not always the case, employees at large, name-brand companies often have very specific job functions. You don’t wear many hats—instead, you focus on a single hat—which can pigeonhole your career or set you down a career path you don’t love.
“Working for a smaller organization that allows you to build experience and gain a reputation for excellence in your industry will take you quickly to the next level,” says Michelle L. Merritt, managing partner of Merrfeld Career Management.
You won’t work with the leadership team
Chances are that if you work for a big company with thousands of employees, you’ll never meet—or work with—the leadership team.
“In a smaller firm you have direct access to senior leaders,” says Jennifer Folsom, chief of corporate development at Summit Consulting, LLC in Washington D.C. “In our firm, you'll find the two partners working alongside analysts, sleeves rolled up and elbow deep in R code [a programming language].”
You find it hard to leave, even if it’s time to move on
Being employed by an enterprise organization can be kind of feel like staying at Hotel California. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.
“It's hard to give up the perks, stability and clear role progression offered by many large organizations, particularly when the alternative is moving to a less well-funded, smaller business,” says Sam McIntire, founder of Deskbright, an online learning platform for business and tech skills based in San Francisco. “If you do take a role at a big company, make sure that you have clear goals for your next career transition,” he says, “and hold yourself accountable to those goals.”
The bottom line: Other things matter more than a name
Working for a name brand can certainly open up new doors and help move your career along.
But other factors are more important in the end, says Lynda Spiegel, HR professional and founder of Rising Star Resumes. “Focus on positions with potential growth, available mentors, and interesting work—because ultimately, those matter more than the employer's brand.”
All companies want to see the same thing
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