Monday, October 31, 2011

Breaking Out Of A Big Company

During a recent conversation with a friend working at a large software company, he told me that in the next couple of years he'd like to move on and join a small or medium sized company. During our conversation I was talking with him about how he should start positioning himself to appear as if he's prepared to work for a smaller company, and he didn't quite understand what I meant.

In my experience, people from larger companies aren't conditioned for life at a startup. There are 1000 little things you have to do yourself that are taken care of for you in a larger company. Take a look at this article, for example (though Captain Recruiter doesn't necessarily agree with the tone of the piece). And even if he's ready 100% to go work for a smaller organization, or he's worked at a startup before, I'd be willing to bet that a hiring manager may think it'd be too hard for him to acclimate to startup life again.

In his mind, he's already conditioned to work in smaller company without big company resources. In his job now he's forced to roll up his sleeves and deal with all sorts of things, from corporate shenanigans to deadlines to managing third party relationships. It's not really possible for me to say with certainty whether he's prepped for small company life or not, so when he asks me why I think he might not be ready, I find it hard to give him a good answer. All I can tell him are what red flags a startup might see when they look at his resume.

After realizing that there was no way to conclusively say that he is or isn't prepared for work at a small company, I recommended a different approach. My suggestion was that he call up 3-5 people that might hire someone like him and ask them what they look for in a new employee. He may as well go straight to the source.

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