I am a Digital Product manager and have worked in many tech start ups throughout my career, for my next career move I want to move into a large organisation and work in an environment where there are a lot of layers. Tech start ups are great, but generally the pay isn't great. I also find them very stressful since I am often doing roles beyond my job description.

I am however finding it challenging to break into them. When recruiters contact me, it always tends to be about a start up role at y company.

Has anyone made the transition, if so how?

  • 1
    Don't rely on recruiters. Make a list of the large companies that you are interested in, and approach them. – Darren Young Apr 18 '16 at 15:20
  • There are many organizations that don't even want direct applicants because it requires their own HR to do all of the screening. Additionally, with a recruiter, you've often got someone trying to sell you to the hiring manager. On your own, you're a cover sheet and a resume (unless you get referrals) – Chris E Apr 18 '16 at 15:31
  • "I want to move into a large organisation and work in an environment where there are a lot of layers" - well, they do say try everything once... – AakashM Apr 20 '16 at 7:46

The key is going to be for you to methodically lay out how the skills you used at startups translate to the corporate world.

What you're fighting isn't reality, but perception. So it becomes a translation job to get the corporate-types with whom you are interviewing to understand that you do have skills that work well in a big company.

But skills are also only part of the battle. The other battle you'll need to fight is culture and the perception of culture. That perception is that startups often tend toward a "fly by the seat of your pants" mindset and a general lack of discipline. I realize that's not always accurate, but it's a perception that you're going to fight.

Another perception you're going to have to overcome is that people in startups don't know how to "conform" to the corporate way of doing things, especially in very large organizations. The reason is that they want someone to come in and do work their way, often which is dictated to them. Most teams in large organizations don't want someone to come in and change how they're doing things and that's one way people in startups are often perceived (which gets back to the "seat of your pants" perception above.

When you talk to recruiters, tell them you're looking to transition into corporate. Most (in my experience) will help you develop the right presentation.

Lastly, network, network, network. Get to know people in organizations for which you'd like to work. They can help you with referrals and let you know when their organization is hiring.

  • Start ups to be honest have taught me a lot about adapting to change since they are often extremely volatile environments. Also, since I am in a managerial position, I often have to manage in a very lean way, are these skills that corporates like? If I manage their projects leanly, it is likely to make them more money in the long run since I spend less. – bobo2000 Apr 18 '16 at 15:41
  • Also forgot to add, I take career development pretty seriously, I spend a lot of money doing professional project management courses to be trained in it, and apply that to my job. I am Prince 2 and a certified scrum master for example. – bobo2000 Apr 18 '16 at 15:49
  • And you're actually making my point a bit. You HAVE the skills, I don't doubt it. The problem you're likely having is perception. That's why the key is presenting your skills in such a way that they fit the corporate mindset. There's a ridiculous bias in both camps that believes that one can't succeed in the other. In sales, that's an objection to overcome. It's all about getting them to see you as thriving in a corporate environment because their bias thinks you can't. – Chris E Apr 18 '16 at 15:55
  • Ok, what is the best way to overcome this? One of the reasons why I want to work in a corporate is because I want to understand how they work. Since I have never worked in one, I have no idea which is why it intrigues me. – bobo2000 Apr 18 '16 at 15:58
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    Just keep pressing recruiters and other network contacts for interviews at corporations. It'll take some time, but it's a numbers game. You'll get interviews and if you present yourself well, you'll get in. I would recommend doing contracts for a while because you won't have to fight against the possibility that you won't stick around that an interviewer my wonder. – Chris E Apr 18 '16 at 17:06

Simplify your CV to the experience that most closely matches the role in the target company. People in bigger companies usually have less broad skillset but more specialised. Which is the downside of big companies. You tend to get stuck in one area.

Perhaps because of your broad skillset agencies are matching you to roles requiring the same.

  • Right now I am a proxy product owner, scrum master and doing some account management. I really enjoy the Scrum master side of things and think that I want to specialize in that area. – bobo2000 May 10 '16 at 16:38

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