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I am facing a dilemma right now. I am currently working for a very big company with good pay, but I don't really like what I am doing, both as far as my daily activities are concerned and as far as the stress I undertake every day. On the other hand, I know that this experience is boosting my CV a lot.

I now have the possibility to move to a smaller company offering me higher pay, but I am afraid that leaving a big company right now may have a repercussion on my future if I will ever want to go back working for a big company.

If it can help, I've been working for this big company for less than a year and I am not even 26.

If I had to move to a smaller company, would my CV suffer from that?

Edit I'm updating my question to clarify some points that came out in the comments.

I am not really concerned with the job hopping problem, since my two previous work experiences lasted 4 years and 2 years, respectively.

Money is not really a matter of life and death, but of course if I had the possibility to earn something more while doing something I like, well, why not.

  • Hi, have you read the FAQ? This question currently does not match the format for questions on this site. Here are some questions on the general topic of startups. – enderland Mar 6 '13 at 15:14
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    Small companies can be resume-boosters as well, because you often have the opportunity to exercise a broader range of skills (and sometimes at more depth). You can be a unicorn! – Amy Blankenship Mar 6 '13 at 15:25
  • @enderland hi, I have added a more specific question at the end of my post, I hope it is better now – user1301428 Mar 6 '13 at 15:27
  • @RhysW Hi! I've left only one question :) – user1301428 Mar 6 '13 at 16:06
  • it's getting downvotes because it's a ridiculous premise for a question – squeemish Mar 6 '13 at 16:48
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People are concerned about job hopping when listing their jobs on their CV. The size of the company is not relevant. You can be on a large team while working for a small company, or a one man project while working for the biggest company in the world.

Pick a job based on job description, Pay, location, future prospects, technologies, cool toys, snacks...not how the company size will impact your CV.

I have never heard of somebody rejecting a candidate because of the size of a previous company, unless it is directly relevant. Starting a company is different then working for a company, or being the CEO of one versus the other.

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    While I agree that for junior to mid-level employees the size of previous employers doesn't matter much, I would disagree that the size of a company one has worked for is irrelevant when it comes to senior positions. Big companies are concerned that the "small-company" guy won't be willing to put up with doing things the "right-way" because it takes too long. While small companies have the opposite concern because they tend to have the just get it done philosophy. In addition to a number of other assimilation factors. – Dunk Mar 6 '13 at 16:50
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    Note that in the last sentence I do address that for some positions (like CEO) it can be important. But the OP is only 26. – mhoran_psprep Mar 6 '13 at 17:36
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    I can attest to witnessing what Dunk is referring to as well. The concerns center around culture differences, amount of process that people are used to, and management style. – MrFox Mar 6 '13 at 18:02
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    @Rhys:(I am working for a big company now) -- We have several interview questions that try to discern if the person is going to have problems following processes, documenting their work and stuff. If someone is coming from a similar company, we don't even ask these questions. However, when coming from small companies or ones that don't require the rigor of our sector, then this is a very big deal. – Dunk Mar 6 '13 at 20:11
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    I think all @Dunk is saying is, "Employers do care about the size of the company in some respects, but it isn't a deal breaker." Unless it's going to get his CV in to the "absolutely not" pile, I can't see how why Dunk would discourage the OP from working from a smaller company. – jmac Mar 7 '13 at 5:43
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There are a few advantages to working in small companies.

1) You can grow professionally much faster. This is because you will get to make a lot more design decisions, and consequently mistakes that you will learn from. I firmly believe that at some point software design becomes like management - it can be taught only to some extent, the only way to really become good at it is through experience.

2) You will most likely have a more diversified skillset. You will not only gain knowledge depth but also breadth because you will be forced to do things that may be outside of your job description or comfort zone by circumstances.

3) You may grow with the company if you are good, and your promotions will happen much faster than in a typical 9-to-5 place. However, you are also more likely to get fired much faster if you do not perform up to par. Smaller companies usually foster a more dynamic environment.

At the same time, working in large companies you will learn the challenges of 'enterprise'. I see a lot of condescending attitudes about slowness and stupidity of big companies from my friends in the start-up culture, and they have some valid points. What they frequently fail to see is that once their companies 'make it' they begin to mimic these same behaviours. It is a different set of challenges, that may be difficult and interesting in their own right, and knowing how to deal with them is complementary to your techincal skills.

For me personally to like your resume, you need to have both kinds of experience. In my opinion they are complimentary, and frankly necessary for someone in a senior position (which one day you will hopefully find yourself in).

Whether you accept this job now or not is up to you, we can't answer that for you. However I would strongly advise you to 'go out there and see the world' from different angles. You will become a better professional in the long term.

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The size of the company you work for doesn't count as much careerwise as the skills you develop in it, so forget about the big company vs small company dilemma. The answer from mhoran_psprep "I have never heard of somebody rejecting a candidate because of the size of a previous company" is 100% consistent with my experience. The danger here is being considered a job hopper since you have been only a few months with your current employer.

If you are at the beginning of your professional career you shouldn't be looking so much at how much money you make rather than at doing something you like doing. The first few jobs will define your field of specialisation and later, when you have more responsibilities, mortgages and whatnot, you will want your work skills not to be in something that makes you miserable. In light of the above, the better your CV is at a job you dislike the worse it will work for you in the long run, and the more difficult it will be for you to move to the kind of job you would prefer.

Now, you say you hate the job at the big company, but you are moving to the small one for a higher pay. If that's the only reason, it would be a bad move.

My advice is:

  • Get a job you like.
  • Stay in it for a year or two (i.e. Don't be a job hopper. Looks bad on the CV)
  • Shop around for a higher pay afterwards.

But of course YMMV.

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  • Good point. All we know is the OP has a job he doesn't like and he's considering a move to a job that pays better. Ideally both the content and the compensation should improve, but if it's going to be just one of the two, he should clarify what is more important to him. – DeStrangis Mar 6 '13 at 16:38
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    The edited post still contains the contradiction, but I have reworked my answer to better address the OP's question. – DeStrangis Mar 6 '13 at 17:00
  • I have updated my question trying to make it clearer :) – user1301428 Mar 7 '13 at 9:21
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One of the more common expectations from working in a smaller company is being able to do more, and manage a wider variety of skills. They usually cannot afford the level of specialization that larger companies have. The advantage of smaller companies is that you can be a bigger fish in the pond, giving you potentially more control and direction of working on projects.

It can be quite easy to have a management position there even if you haven't had that experience in previous jobs. As a personal example, I was offered a Project Manager role only 3 months in, on my first job after finishing college. (because I was still wet behind the ears, I only declined it to focus on building my technical skills) If you are interested in leadership positions, working at these companies would be a good way to get the experience.

That has its downside, in that you might reach a plateau of experience or seniority too soon. Smaller companies tend to involve more horizontal movement than vertical movement in job titles. Overall, though, working in smaller companies will make you a more well-rounded professional.

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