Startups vs. Big Business: The Battle for Top IT Talent

by Modis on August 30, 2016

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Startups vs. Big Business: A small man next to giant legs11 years ago, Arianna Huffington founded the Huffington Post. Just recently, she announced her plans to leave the company to focus on a new health-and-wellness startup. So what prompted her to make the change after years of building the Huffington Post?

In recent years, the Huffington Post has undergone an aggressive global expansion. The culture and the setup of the company have changed, and sources close to Huffington say it just isn’t working for her anymore. Will joining a startup be more in line with Huffington’s recent interests and values? Only time will tell.

Huffington’s departure highlights another example of the intense battle for talent between startups and big businesses. So, what if you’re not Arianna Huffington? What if you’re an IT professional deciding on your next opportunity? We have you covered.

Rising Demand For IT Professionals

The tech sector is expected to see an 18% growth in employment by 2022. To put it into perspective, that’s 685,000 new jobs.

Why the rising demand for IT professionals? According to Glassdoor Career Trends Analyst Scott Dobroski, “the reason why is because companies worldwide must now maintain an online and mobile presence to stay competitive, requiring them to invest in employees with deep tech skills.”

While the IT industry continues to create new jobs, the competition to hire the best talent is heating up. Big businesses and startups are in a close race to hire the best tech professionals.

Startups vs. Big Business: Which is Better For Your Career?

Are you trying to decide if working for a big company or a promising startup will be a good fit for you? We’ve mapped out eight key factors to consider:

  1. Training and mentoring: If you’re just beginning your career, this may be the most important detail to consider. A startup won’t have as many resources as an established company. At many big tech companies, you’ll be mentored and have training to help you improve your programming skills. For example, Google has guides that teach best practices for different programming languages.
  2. Pace: Another important selection criteria is the work environment. Everything at a startup happens much faster than it does at larger companies. If you’re considering a startup, expect to work more than the standard 40-hour work week. Since everything depends on rapid development, the work/life balance can be brutal. Large companies have processes in place to keep everything running smoothly. These processes create structure, but often at the cost of development speed. At a big company you’re more likely to work a 40-hour workweek.
  3. Project structure: At a startup, you’ll have opportunities to work on a variety of projects with multiple teams. At a larger company, projects are more structured with direction coming from managers or team leads. You’ll most likely work on specific tasks within the project for longer periods of time with the same team.
  4. Risk: Although any company can fold, you never know if a startup is going to succeed or fail. An established company has a track record that is easier to evaluate. Stories of startup employees eating Ramen in their studi0 apartments may be overblown – at least when it comes to funded companies. In the long run, larger companies offer more job security.
  5. Impact & influence: When working for a big company, you’ll mainly focus on your particular role. Your interaction will be limited to the people on your team or in your department. You won’t touch all aspects of the product like you do at a startup company. At a startup, you’ll have more influence on both the product and the team.
  6. Perks: There is more to a job than the work itself. Large companies generally pay more than startups. Some big companies offer perks like on-campus cafes, tennis courts, and bowling alleys. But that doesn’t mean that a startup won’t try to make work more fun with perks like karaoke, movie nights, board games, or a company dog.
  7. Networking: Building your professional network is important. It’s also wise to consider how much access you’ll have to company leadership. At a startup, you’ll likely work directly with the founders. There isn’t a huge org chart with many layers to the company. At a big company, you probably won’t have direct access to the CEO.
  8. Culture: There is a big difference between working at an established company and working at a startup. In a startup, you’ll have an impact on the culture of the company. In a large company, you’ll be one of many employees and the culture will already be established.

Key Takeaway

If you’re struggling to decide whether a startup or a big company is the right choice for you, there are two things to consider:

What you value, and what you desire.

Keep in mind that although they are very different, the right type of company for you will depend on your goals, objectives, and personality. Now that you know the pros and cons of each situation, you can make an informed decision that will benefit your career.

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