When looking for a job, there will no doubt be a number of things that you’re looking for in your ideal role. There is also an overwhelming choice in the marketplace, with major agencies and specialist boutiques all competing for the best people. So, if faced with a choice, is a large agency or a small agency better?
This all depends on your own personal preferences, so there is no clear-cut, universal answer for everyone. When your environment is conductive to your own style of working and the goals you want to achieve, your job can feel considerably more rewarding regardless of company size. The trick is to work out what is most important to you. We hope the following ‘pros & cons’ will help if you are faced with this choice:
Benefits of working with a larger agency:
A big brand on the CV
A big agency has immediate 'brand-recognition'. It could have you working on major client accounts early on, helping you to both make a name for yourself with these clients as well as getting the agency’s name on your CV.
Defined career pathways
These agencies also tend to have a much clearer development route thanks to their structures. When you can see your how the business is structured with your team leader, line manager and Director ahead of you, your pathway can begin to make sense.
A large company can also come with more opportunities to grow and progress in different directions, not just with your skills development and ongoing learning, but in terms of team and/or key account management, while some large agencies might even offer prospects overseas.
Small cog, big wheel
It is an unavoidable consequence of a larger company that you will be a smaller part of the organisation. This does not always mean a loss of visibility; many large organisations are structured as a collection or matrix of smaller teams and autonomous business units. Ask at interview how the teams are structured and interact with each other as this can give you a good understanding of how the business functions and how easy it is for you to ‘shine’.
Benefits of working with a smaller company:
Exposure to other areas of the business
Smaller companies tend to appeal to those looking for more flexibility and variation in their role. Where in a large firm you might have a defined job description, small agencies tend to allow you to take on work that falls outside of your main role. This means you can get a chance to try something new whilst developing a wider range of skills.
Quick progression and recognition
It is generally easier to be noticed within a smaller company, meaning more recognition for your work and more individual 'facetime' with your managers about your progress and performance. This can lead to opportunities for early responsibility and rapid development of your skills.
Smaller teams can be more supportive and can help with personal development on a one-on-one level.
But, whilst your successes may be more visible to senior managers in a smaller team, there tends to be much more personal accountability in a small agency and a higher expectation to be ‘hands-on’ and being prepared to take on tasks that our outside the typical day-to-day. This can be a benefit if you are looking to broaden your skills, so ask what support and training is provided when you will need to roll your sleeves up and tackle new tasks at short notice.
So, which should you choose?
The right company for you will depend on what it is you’re hoping to get out of your role. Not everyone is built to thrive within a large organisation, where others prefer the structure and stability it provides. Similarly, small companies are not everyone’s cup of tea if they want a large team around them, while others will find the fluidity and visibility a joy.
In the end, go with your ‘gut feel’, but remember, whichever company you choose to join, make sure your decision is based just as much on the rapport with the people you meet, as with the company’s size and market position.