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I am likely to be offered a job in an interview today, and I am not certain whether I can take it. Namely, in thinking forward, my current employer for 3 years following college is a very noteworthy one, to the point people could instantly identify it on a Resume. I really like the new place and what I'll be doing, and the plans for what I'll be doing, but it is much smaller and that has me worried for some reason. It makes me feel while I am taking a step forward career-wise (and even pay-wise), I am taking a step back in some way.

Is going to a small company from a large one where it really couldn't get any better (to some people) a black mark on resumes at all? What other considerations should I have going into a company much smaller to make career growth happen?

This is IT, by the way.

  • I can say that having worked in IT for a variety of smaller (but not small) companies and now working for one of the most recognizable brands, the biggest change, is the quality (and quantity) of blind hits I get on LinkedIn. I have also been contacted from places I previously interviewed with, but did not get hired. Don't know if this would translate in to getting hired, but the interest is kind of nice. – Bill Leeper Oct 14 '14 at 19:15
  • Do you think you and this new company have what it takes to turn this small, unheard of company to a large notable company? Because people will definitely pay attention to that detail! – corsiKa Oct 14 '14 at 20:11
  • In general, I don't think it's an issue - but be prepared to explain why you took a pay reduction in future interviews (and if so, why you're not interested in a pay reduction for the next company you work for!) – Rob Church Oct 14 '14 at 20:12
  • @RobChurch The OP says in the question that the pay is an improvement, but that seems like good advice in general. – Milo P Oct 14 '14 at 20:39
  • @MiloPrice ah yes, I misread that! – Rob Church Oct 14 '14 at 21:07
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Is going to a small company from a large one where it really couldn't get any better (to some people) a black mark on resumes at all?

When I interview candidates, there are some large companies that get my attention. On the other hand, I know a lot of the small startups in the domain in which I work, and they get my attention as well.

For me, there is no black mark. For other resume readers, their reaction may be different.

In my case, I've gone from large to small and back again. I've never found this to be a problem on my resume.

The only issue that you may encounter is the "Could he fit in here in my [large/small] company?" question that is always part of the interview process. Since you may end up with experience in both large and small companies, that will probably be less of a concern.

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When I read resumes, I look at the responsibilities of the position, and then prepare interview questions based on those. Here's how I look at your employment history:

Big companies

Pros

  • You can conform to complex requirements and perform within them.
  • You were likely exposed to very strict policies and taught by seasoned professionals.

Cons

  • It is very easy to "Hide" in a large company, drawing a paycheck while not contributing much.

Small companies

Pros

  • You likely had to work on all facets of projects, having to do everything from firewall configuration to hand-holding the boss's niece through training (Or whoever your org's personal nepotist is/was), and probably even some customer-facing work with sales support and training.

  • You were exposed to a lot of different technologies, and had to "sort through" them to find the ones that would benefit your company.

Cons

  • You may not do well in a more structured environment, where you have to defer to other team members and more levels of management.

Again, these are POTENTIAL issues I see with candidates based on their work history. Each person is their own story. I change my interview questions to try to determine if any of these are strengths / weaknesses of the candidate.

After all, the only point of a resume is to get an interview. The interviews are what should make the decisions on hiring.

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As a hiring manager, I care about what you can do, i.e, what value can you bring to my organization. There are very few companies that would sway my opinion, good or bad, and that is because I personally know something about them, either directly or through a trusted contact.

Every company has good employees and bad. The name of your current employer doesn't tell me anything about who you are. You could be leaving to take on a new challenge, or you could be leaving because they are about to fire you. Nothing about the company's name gives me insight into that.

2

The Career

When I look through application resumes I've seen people who stick to big corps, some who move from corps to smaller indie scale operations, some who move from small to big, people who start their own companies than join corps, etc.

Honestly none of these particularly says "good" or "bad" to me. They don't even really make much of a difference barring a trend that is particularly odd. (but even then I give the candidate a chance to explain, it's pretty rare where they moved to / from bother me. Typically it's the Why and how that concern me.

What am I hiring for?

The biggest point I consider when looking at your work history is what sort of places did you work? What information can I find about them? Why did make your previous moves? Am I likely to be more like a company you'd move to or from?

These are all questions I ask when looking at your job changes.

Typically the things I watch for are trends, do you seem to move from companies that have a lot more structure to ones that allow for a lot more autonomy? if so would I fit in your trend, or would I be a reversal of that trend? Perhaps you moved from more traditional to more progressive companies, again, do I seem in line with your changes, or contrary to them?

Effectively if I spot a trend and I don't fit in it, that's not a black mark, but it's something I need to discuss with you to make sure you're a good fit and you'll be happy working for me.

What and why?

What you did for your previous employers is really important. Honestly outside of spotting people who are dishonest this is the single most important thing I find on your resume. It lets me know if you're past is related to what I'm hiring you for, where you work is only a special consideration if I know that employer and if they tend to hire good or bad people.

Why did you leave? This is the primary consideration I have in your job shifts in the past. Did you just get bored and move? Did you have issues with your peers? Are you just flipping to whomever will pay the most? What motivated you to change jobs?

There are MANY excellent reasons to change jobs that will put you on my good side, there are even more really terrible reasons to change jobs that will instantly put your application in my trash can.

What I'm looking for in asking about jobs past

I'm looking to establish two things when I look at / ask you about your past employers.

First, I'm trying to gauge you as an employee. Do you behave in a professional manner? Does your work history make sense? Is there any points of concern that need to be vetted? etc

Second, I'm trying to figure out what to expect should I hire you. How you leave past employers is practically a road map to how I should expect you to leave me. Did you just get bored? if so... would you just get bored here? Are you ambitious and needed to relocate to advance? if so... do I have advancement opportunities for you after I hire you?

Big to small, known to unknown, I only care if your reasons for the shift are in themselves a black mark.

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