May 17 2019 Working for big companies vs startups

Are you the type of person who is attracted to large companies? Or are you crazy about startups? At the end of the day, it’s your personal choice regarding what type of company will suit you best. But here at Active Connector, basing on the point of view of a recruitment firm, we often times handle cases wherein people working for big companies want to move to startups and vice versa. We would like to share with you pros and cons of large companies and startups based on people’s real insights.

Large Companies’ Pros

Large companies tend to thrive and continuously show strong presence in the market. This makes it more appealing for job hunters to click apply and sign up for any open position the company offers. It’s no secret that their unforgettable market ads and campaigns do rub on consumers, but what do they hold for your careers?

  1. Good offices in good location: They have bigger offices and oftentimes in multiple locations. Usually many of the large companies are located in the hub of Tokyo, which makes it easier for you to commute wherever you are living (Although you have to bear in mind the hassle of train rush hours). Also, large offices with good  facilities will not give you headache for most of your day-to-day work. You have good printers that will surely function properly. You have all the pens, stationaries, and available resources that you need etc.
  2. Structured salary schemes and HR system: One thing that you can appreciate from working for large companies is that they have an established salary promotion system, as well as evaluation system. Also, they have structured and efficient designed HR systems and opportunities including training programs. Their strengths come from years of experience of trial and error. Their procedures are most likely standardized and strict but they know how to take care of their employees.
  3. Established brand and history: You won’t have much trouble explaining where you work for when it comes to introductions.  Though in this time where everything is unpredictable, still, working for established brand will give you some sense of security. You will also feel very proud of being a part of its rich history. Not to mention the fact that your resume will look more “appealing” with your experience in large companies for most of the cases. (Though many of the startups do not really care much about the name/size of the companies you are working for when they screen candidates.) 
  4. More career paths/options: If you work for big companies, there are many teams and departments within the company with different types of projects. These usually allow you to move into different roles if your skill set and the requirements meet. But if you work for a startup, you have to face the reality of “creating your own career path” which we will explain later on in this article.

Large Companies’ Cons

Sounds like big companies provide you with everything you’ll ever need or want, right? However, That isn’t always true. Here are some of the Cons you have to keep in mind.

  1. Slow promotion/Fewer “Big Chance” : You do have to keep in mind that the bigger the company, the higher the ladder you will have to climb. In startups, it is not unrealistic for you to imagine to be promoted to the head of the team, or even CTO. But if you are working for big companies, you have to be ready for a fiercer competition. Also, since there are many hierarchies in large companies, it is not so easy for you to move up the ladder at least in a quick pace (unless you are very fortunate). For the POV of being a foreigner in Japan, many of them complain that “There are glass ceilings for foreigners” when it comes to promotion in large Japanese companies.
  2. Routine jobs and “a cog of a wheel”: Most of the time your job becomes mechanical and a clockwork routine. If you work for big companies, usually you will be working on a small part of a big project. For example, if you are going to work on a website, it will probably just an aspect or part of it. If you work for a startup, you will be most likely working on the entire system and can see your work’s impact immediately on a larger scale. 
  3. Less visionary: People in startups usually decide to work in the team because of their shared vision. Unless people are driven by the startup’s vision, people would not have chosen to take risks. However in large companies, people are driven with many different reasons: stability, type of job, brand name etc… As much as the company tries to foster the sense of “following the company’s vision”, oftentimes, you feel distant to the company’s vision.

Startups’ Pros

A lot of people took risks, turning their ideas or solutions into action and creating a business out of it. The success of startups from different industries encouraged more people to come forward with their ideas.  With all the hype and noise surrounding this topic, the idea of joining startups became more attractive and promising. Here are some exceptional experiences you can have if you are working for startups. 

  1. You can be a part of the decision making:  Since startups tend to start in small teams, members who will be joining the company gets a higher chance of being more involved in the integral decision making process stage. This also allows more room for creative freedom and stronger sense of responsibility.
  2. Flat structure: Startups tend to have flat structures which makes it easier to build a stronger core team. Because of the flat structure, you can enjoy open communication and see how things move more quickly. You can also see how the CEO and other higher official work which can be a very good learning opportunity for entrepreneurship and leadership. 
  3. No limit for Big Gain: If you are working for big companies, you can imagine your salary promotion in steady yet slow pace. If you are working for startups, you may get Stock Option, which can turn into million dollars if the company gets listed. This kind of “Sudden Big gain” is almost impossible to think if you are working for big companies.
  4. Bigger impact from your work: If it is a startup, you will directly see results of your work right in front of you. This is very different from working in large companies where you hardly see or feel your contribution.
  5. More flexible and innovative work environment: Usually for most of the startups, they use flex system, they are faster in implementing new HR systems. You may see frequent changes in the system, which may make you feel uneasy (for some people), but if you are the type of person who enjoys new things and can embrace change, you will definitely enjoy working in startups. The dress code is much more lax in startups so you can wear casual clothes like jeans. Say Bye bye to wearing suit and ties, and for females maybe high heels!

Startups’ Cons

There are many people who get stressed out at startups. Here are some cases:

  1. Beyond your comfort zone (or job role): You might have to stretch your skills and capabilities a little further. People who join startups shouldn’t mind getting their hands a little dirty because they are hungry to learn as much as they can and improve their capabilities in any way possible.
  2. Risk of stability: There is a higher risk in terms of the stability of the company. In Japan, it is often said that 50% of the newly built companies vanish within 5 years time. 
  3. More pressure: Since your responsibility is heavier and your ideas are given more attention, there is more pressure and expectation coming from the company. The procedures and processes might not be as effective and enforced compared to big companies.
  4. You have to create your own career path: CEO will have a vision of the company. The team leader may have a vision of the team. But usually it is you who have to clearly have your own vision of your career path and you have to pave your way by yourself. For example, if you really want to move to a different position, you have to try to create a “new job” for that position. You have to also prove yourself that you are capable of that, and that the company needs that job.

In the end the decision is yours to make, people thrive and achieve their sense of fulfillment doing different things. The only way you can find out is if your go for it and experience them firsthand.

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