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Will working for a small company be a negative on my résumé?

The Question:

I have one good job offer in my hand, but my only concern is that the offer is from small private company (with around 80 to 90 employees only). However, there is no worry about the company's stability.

Presently, I am working in one of the U.S.-based multinational corporations, with about 25,000 employees.

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I want to know if joining this new small company will have any negative impact on my résumé or my future if I wish to join any multinational corporation again? Will working in a small organization be considered a negative?

The Answer:

Congratulations on your job offer. Many would say that any offer is a good offer these days if it matches what you are looking for, especially in light of current economic conditions.

In short, working for a small company should not have a negative impact on your future with a multinational company since you have already had experience working for one MNC. You can highlight this as well as the experience you have gained working for the new smaller company if you decide to apply to another MNC at a later date.

However, make sure you know what you are looking for in this career move. If it is broader and at a higher level of management responsibility, then the new position sounds like it will be a fit for you. Likewise, if it is a new industry sector and this is a fast growing company with lots of room for advancement then this could be an ideal opportunity. On the other hand, if it is more staff reporting to you and a bigger budget responsibility than you are looking for, this may not be the best career move to make.

First, ascertain where this new position fits with your overall career path. Develop a vision for your career. Set goals and targets of where you would like to be in your career over the next five, 10, and 20 years. Be clear on what experience you need and in what sectors in order to attain your ultimate career goals.

Do your research on this current company and the person to which you will be reporting. Review the company website and relevant financial and business reports. Speak to officials who currently work in the company and the division that has offered you the position, as well as the previous incumbent in the position and other past employees. Ask them what are the advantages and disadvantages of working for this company. What did they learn? What would they do differently if they were able to do it over again? How has it affected their career development and progression? Ask them if they were in your shoes what would they do. Speak to senior and HR officials in the new company about opportunities for growth and advancement. Ask for specific examples of other staff that have advanced in the company.

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Also, you should talk to senior officials and HR officials in your current company about opportunities of returning to the MNC at a higher position at a later date after working at the new smaller company. If you have a mentor at your current company or one outside of the company ask them for their input and advice. If you don't have a mentor this may be a good time to find one or more wise, seasoned leaders who can help guide and advise you in your career development and choices.

You want to make an informed conscious choice. Make sure that you are truly interested in the new company and the position, and that you have a good connection with your new boss. Also make sure that there is opportunity for growth in the new division and company. Listen to your intuition about the new opportunity. If it feels right and if it fits with your overall career vision and path then you have an easy choice. If your gut or your intuition is raising some concerns then listen to it and check them out thoroughly before accepting the offer. If the position does not fit in with your overall career vision and path, and if you are not able to dispel your own or other trusted advisers' concerns about the position then you have another decision to make – to either stay in your current position or look for other more appropriate opportunities elsewhere.

Bruce Sandy is principal of and Pathfinder Coaching & Consulting in Vancouver.

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