What Size Pond Do You Prefer?

Sound like a weird question? It is a metaphor I often use when asking clients what size company they enjoy working in? This is an important question when dreaming about the possibilities of your career. 

It is a personal preference, and you should try all sizes. Still, eventually, most professionals find a company size that they feel most comfortable working in for one reason or another. 

Not sure what size pond you prefer? Here are some pros and cons to working in each size company.

Large organizations are great because they offer so many different career paths.  The further you progress in your career, the more opportunities you have to lead large teams and work cross-functionally with departments that may not exist in other companies.  But, being a great leader is important, or your team may feel like a number and get lost in the crowd.

It is easier for your teams to be recognized in a medium-sized organization than a larger organization. In addition, in a medium-sized company, you will be able to move things faster and have a larger influence on cross-functional teams and potentially the entire company. But beware, it may take longer for your superstars to get promoted, so stay close, or they may be lured away to reach the next level in their career by moving to a competitor!

With the right culture, teams in small companies feel intimate.  You rely on the strengths and weaknesses of others and often have opportunities to learn and build new skills because you step into the gaps and pick up jobs you never imagined you would do. Unfortunately, medium to large size organizations may discount the complexity of your business due to the size and ask you to take a step back in title when moving into their organization (but you still might get a raise).

Last but not least, the Start-Up! Everyone should work in a start-up organization at least once! Curiosity and flexibility are important because they are often perfecting the product as they are bringing it to market.  If you don't like to pivot often, this job may not be for you - but try it just for the experience!  You will have great personal growth stories to tell during your next interview because there is no place to hide, and you have to have an opinion.  

I could go on and on about each size organization. But, at the end of the day, you need to do your homework to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each company, feel comfortable with the person you would be reporting to, the opportunities of the team you would be leading, and the values of the organization.  Every move is a risk but can also provide growth and opportunities.

So don't forget, when plotting out your career strategy, consider what opportunities you need to round out your experience to land in your final destination, and always consider what each size pond has to offer you along the way. 



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