Do you hate Red Tape and Process for Process Sake? Do you want your ideas to be heard and be able to speak to and be noticed by the people managing the Business you work for? If you are an IT / Business professional have you ever thought of working for an SME? My name is Matt Hancock and I have worked in the IT / Business Recruitment Industry for many years. In this time I have recruited for a broad range of companies ranging from extremely large global organisations through to very small start-ups. Every type of company will hold pro’s and con’s for prospective IT / Business candidates looking for a permanent role and all have their merits. However this particular article is aimed at helping candidates make a decision about whether they should contemplate working for an SME and how, on the face of it, an SME can offer real value-add’s to a candidate.

“When recruiting, I sometimes find myself apologising for not giving a full job description but working for an SME is best suited to those who are comfortable with the unknown, seeking to accelerate their career and are able to embrace and adapt to the vast dynamics that an SME has to offer.” Dave Greenbrown - Owner of Looking4Parking.com

According to the University College London studies and the Enterprise Directorate (who are the UK’s first, completely independent, premium resource on the Internet for people who run the UK’s 4.5 million ‘small’ businesses), SME’s account for over half of employment (58.7%). (For more information about what they are saying, please take a look at the website addresses at the bottom of this article.)

In my experience, candidates working for an SME will often find the following:

  • Full visibility of the management hierarchy, often with access to Directors
  • Ownership of a more over-arching role allowing end-to-end project vision and more hands-on interaction re full development / project lifecycles
  • More clear visibility of company vision for the future with more potential to help shape direction.
  • Greater overall access to the toolset being used by the company
  • Gaining a greater responsibility at an earlier stage of engagement with the company
  • Less red tape, processes and procedures to adhere to
  • More client / customer direct engagement
  • Greater chance of upward mobility with the company that has less of a glass ceiling mentality
  • More chance to grow existing role as the company grows
  • Less requirements by the company for high level accreditations at entry level
  • Shorter commute as many of these SME’s should be local to candidates
  • More likely that ideas will be heard and acted upon
  • Greater chance to shine in a role and be noticed by Management
  • Likely to be less strict salary bandings in place providing more chance of attaining higher salary rewards longer term
  • Occasional opportunity to buy into the business
  • Often long term staff retention levels allowing for close-knit working relationships with colleagues
“Since working for an SME I find myself constantly having to think on my feet and adapt to the fast-paced environment that is constantly evolving, allowing me to really grow in my role as a developer. Looking back at where my skill-set was a year ago, my experience and knowledge has developed so much since then.” Java Developer – SME, London

Of course, there are always exceptions to every rule and candidates, when interviewed at an SME, should make sure they ask questions that ascertain a particular company ethos and how the working environment plays out in practice.

"In a small business its great to be able to contribute and have those contributions noticed and appreciated. You can define your own role and you can see the impact you are making." .NET Developer - SME, Leeds

Other potential negatives could well be the fact that initial salary engagement is less than working for a larger organisation although it is often found salaries can rise more rapidly than in companies with a more structured promotion policy.

“When I first started working here I was able to speak to end customers directly and sort out any fixes / requirements where necessary quickly and with minimum fuss – everyone was happy. I am no longer able to speak to those end customers directly and have to go through a succession of Business Analysts and Project Managers in order to learn what the end customer requires. The red tape and time consuming processes are such that I used to be able to have trusted access to any technical Box easily in order to make necessary changes, sometimes I now have to wait days for a permission to allow me to do the same job required.” C# Developer – Large global financial organisation

If a candidate doesn’t perform at a level required by the company, there’s no-where to hide. Apart from base salary, it can often be found that a smaller SME has less company benefits to offer. Again, questions should be asked so that the candidate is able to work out the overall package on offer as benefits can often be worth many thousands of pounds on top of the base salary. One caveat to this would be pensions. The Government have made changes to the Workplace Pensions Law. From 1 April 2017, every employer will have a legal duty to help their workers in the UK save for retirement. They must automatically enroll certain workers into a qualifying workplace pension scheme and make contributions towards it. Staff members would have the option to opt out of these schemes although I believe most people will choose to stay in and have their employer help add to their long term pension pot. For more information about pension entitlement, please take a look at:

Will having worked recently for an SME on a cv open doors at the highest levels longer term? Not necessarily but if the candidate is looking for real job satisfaction with the ability to often help shape the real nature of the work and the company they work for, then I believe it is something to be seriously considered. For more information about the University College London article on Working for a Small or Medium Sized Enterprise, please take a look at:

For more information about the Enterprise Directorate, please take a look at:

For more information relating to this article, please contact Matt Hancock at Jenrick IT on 01932 245 500, by email and connect with him on Linked IN. Like the image? When we were trying to find an image that would reflect this article encouraging people to think different, we stumbled across this brilliant image that does exactly that, courtesy of http://blog.entrepreneurthearts.com