Graduates: don’t neglect opportunities within SMEs

A recent study conducted by Iconnyx reveals that many university leavers are overlooking roles within small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs), even though gaining employment within an SME can often be a fantastic career opportunity for a graduate.

The survey found that just 3% of the thirty recruitment consultancies asked believed that graduates preferred smaller companies over larger ones.

Graduate job seekers are attracted to the major multinational organisations and discount the experience they can gain at smaller companies. SMEs are a practical option for university leavers struggling to compete for the popular graduate schemes at large global companies. In fact, it may be the big, household-name companies that first to come to mind when thinking about graduate recruitment but in reality only 14% of graduates actually get places on these companies’ graduate training schemes. The schemes are highly demanding, often requiring a 2:1 degree and sometimes a willingness to relocate. Some findings from ‘Employing Graduates in SMEs: Towards a Research Agenda’ reveal that approximately 50% of SMEs have no preference for the discipline of the graduate’s degree and over 90% of SMEs showed little interested in the class or type of degree.

Some advantages of working for an SME include:

  • SMEs can offer personal on-the-job training and invaluable hands-on experience.
  • You will have the flexibility to get involved in a wider range of tasks and will gain a variety of experiences and skills as job roles are often less firmly defined in small companies.
  • You would be encouraged to voice your own ideas and feel like you are making a real contribution to the business.  You will see ideas implemented and observe projects through from start to finish.
  • Small businesses offer good prospects for graduates who do join them and there are more likely to be opportunities to develop roles and further careers.
  • The working environment may be less bureaucratic and more relaxed than in larger organisations. Small business owners understand that their staff is their greatest asset and are therefore more likely to identify their needs and treat them as individuals.
  • You may be able to get a job near where you live rather than having to move like you would be required to do if accepted onto some graduate schemes.
  • SMEs offer the opportunity to work closely with people on all levels of the business including senior management and to have your work noticed.

SMEs can offer university leavers what they often seek from their first graduate internship or job. However, some graduates are unaware of the benefits SMEs can offer and have no idea how to take advantage of them. So don’t always think big…

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