August 2, 2013

Job Search Tip: Choosing Between an Established Company and an Exciting Start Up

Business person standing against modern virtual technology backgroundEach job you accept is an influential decision that affects your life style, standard of living, professional development, and other major aspects of your life for an indefinite period of time. For those reasons, it is understandable, and expected, that picking your next employer can be an anxiety-provoking, or even frightening, time of your life. Even ignoring the long-term ramifications of your decision, the immediate consequences of your choice involve a complete change in your work environment, the relationships you have with your co-workers, your pay, and your professional responsibilities. Not to mention the fact that you spend at least 25 percent of your life roaming the halls and cubicles of your employer of choice. So it is no trivial matter to consider whether you’d rather work for a large and established corporate brand or a start up with prospects and perks unavailable to the more entrenched companies.

They each offer distinct styles of living and appeal to disparate parts of the mind of a professional’s psyche. The cultures in large corporations tend to be more formalized and hierarchical with well-established routines and expectations. A start up typically involves a much more lax social environment where executives and non-management regularly mingle and share ideas. However, that decrease in formality is met generally met by an increase in responsibilities and demands. In a start up, your decisions and actions typically have more of an impact on the company than they would on a large corporation, so you may feel more pressured to make prudent decisions. But start ups also offer more opportunities for career growth than a rank-and-file position at a large national or multi-national chain.

The nature of a start-up company requires that it succeed quickly or die. Therefore, the impact of a successful start up will be felt strongly and immediately to its employees whether it is through substantial pay increases or fast-tracked promotions. But with the potential glories and celebrations to be had with a successful start up come the very real changes that the company could tank and bring you along with it.

A corporate job lacks the instant gratification of immediate success that can be experienced via a start up, but that’s only because it has already achieved success and so offers stability and security that new businesses just can’t match. The image of the typical corporate job is often not positive, but it does come with substantial business compared to the alternative. By having the understanding that as long as you perform your job you can expect a predictable income and work benefits, you can more easily focus on future goals such as a well-funded retirement.

Additionally, since the mechanism of larger corporations are necessarily less efficient than for successful start ups, you have more leeway to make a few errors without being noticed since the size of your company will make their impact negligible. Of course, you won’t find the same opportunities for professional growth and promotion that you would in a company just starting out, but you will find a guaranteed standard of living that is maintainable for as long as you choose.


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Joshua Bjerke, from Savannah, Georgia, focuses on articles involving the labor force, economy, and HR topics including new technology and workplace news. Joshua has a B.A. in Political Science with a Minor in International Studies and is currently pursuing his M.A. in International Security.