Dec 24, 2013

    Small companies, big opportunities

    Q: I have been working for a few years and am ready to move on to another job.  I have two attractive offers, one from an MNC and the other from an SME.  While the MNC offers organisational stability and a "big name", the scope of the SME job sounds enticing.  What would be a prudent move for a job seeker like me?

    A: Regardless of your age, it is crucial that you take into consideration your life stage and the prospect for career advancement in the new job when evaluating career opportunities. This is not to say that tangible benefits such as remuneration are not important. But when you allow the monetary benefits and other perks to distract you, chances are you will make a hasty decision.

    Brand names

    MNCs have invested over the years to establish themselves in their respective industries.

    With a strong corporate brand, you can often be assured that these big organisations muster the necessary resources to offer their employees better benefits and attractive salaries. And there is some truth that having an MNC brand in your resume does help somewhat in your next job application.

    However, that does not mean that SMEs are lagging behind these big boys.

    Today, many local companies have made strides in their business and become giants in their own right. These home-grown companies are aware that to attract talent, they must develop their employer brands and employee engagement. Many have improved tremendously and do not lose out to foreign counterparts.

    Responsibilities and exposure

    One common feedback you hear from employees working in SMEs is that they "bao ga liao" (Hokkien for doing everything themselves).

    This might not necessarily be a bad thing. In fact, it forces SME employees to be more hands-on, and exposes them to new roles and tasks.

    It is different in an MNC environment, where employees can pull out information from readily available sources. MNC employees are also usually more specialised in their own fields.

    Many job seekers have the perception that SMEs cannot provide the kind of regional or international exposure that MNCs can.

    Fortunately, that is not always true. Sometimes, even though you work for an MNC, the job scope is limited to the local office and there is a limit to the overseas exposure that you can get.

    On the other hand, in an SME, you are often the prime candidate should there be any overseas work.

    Recognition and Share of Voice

    Your work in an SME will have a greater impact in how the operation is run. This is because you are at the nerve centre of the entire organisation. And when there are fewer voices, you are not drowned out. Your achievements are more pronounced when you are in an SME, compared to when you are working in a division of an overseas branch reporting to headquarters.

    Every company, regardless of size, has its strengths and limitations. You have to do your own research and see which organisation best suits your current goals.

    But always remember to invest in your own personal brand and skills. In today's market environment where employees are expected to retire at a later stage, it is vital that your current decisions help you ensure career longevity.

    For information on career opportunities, visit the website of recruitment and human-resource consultancy The GMP Group at