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My wife, a medical doctor, and I are moving to Houston in the next few months for a position she's taken. Since we're moving from a small regional market to a large market, I'd like to take that opportunity to transition to a large firm.

My background however is exclusive to mid and small sized regional companies, although I have a strong performance and career growth track record; this is also reflected in my salary history as well as role and responsibility increases.

So how do I sell my small company experience to a large company? I feel that the larger companies are looking down their noses at my experience, and I feel I also am at a disadvantage to other applicants with large organization experience, regardless of ability. Anyone know if I'm off here, or if that is just the way it works?

Suggestions? Advice? Experience moving from small to large?

dad2jnk's picture

Large companies always look for people who are agile, entrepreneurial, and have the ability to network.  Your small- and mid-size company experience could help you there.  Use any experience you have to show past success working across departments or across companies.

If you can demonstrate success in these areas, your experience can be turned to your advantage.

Good luck!

dad2jnk (Ken)

tomw's picture

I have seen the same thing, with larger companies thinking they are better at everything than the smaller ones. If you can show that you can do what they need, sometimes they will make exceptions. I would look at it like the recent cast on changing industries. Your resume and interviewing skills have to be far better than everyone else's.

Be ready for exponentially worse office politics than you are used to in a small firm and expect any major decisions to take 4 to 10 times as long as you are used to because of the number of people who will feel the need to weigh in,.

AManagerTool's picture

BLUF: Having had experienced both sides of this situation in my career I can tell you without a doubt that big company hiring managers sometimes do look down their noses at small company applicants.  That said, who cares!  It's about your resume, the way you interview and if you have what the hiring manager is looking for that matters.  The trick is getting that interview.

I work for one of the largest pharmas.  You will have a very tough time making it through the resume screening process without coming from another big pharma.  I know I did.  At bigger companies, hiring managers don't screen resumes.  HR does and they look for a lack of big company experience as a reason to say no.  Truthfully, there is a small difference between big and small company experience that I won't get into here.  However, there are strategies that you can use to "break in" to large companies.

Perhaps the best strategy that I have seen used is the "backdoor approach".  Temp to perm, contracting or consulting all provide a way to give yourself big company experience while simultaneously lowering the artificial hiring hurdle.  This is how I got in.  That's not to say that it's easy being hired by a contracting company but they don't seem to "look down their noses" at small company experience.  Once you have at least one or two contracting engagements to your name, you effectively have the "big company experience" you need.  Of course, you need to ROCK those engagements but you already know that.

Another way is to bypass that HR screener.  Find a way to get your resume in the hands of the hiring manager.  This is where a good recruiter helps.  This is also where networking comes in to play.  Hiring managers make the call on applicants not HR.  If your skills are what they need, they will bite unless they never get to see you at all.

A third way is what I call the theory of relativity.  The theory of relativity states that big companies like to hire their employees relatives.  Though I must say that this is really old school HR thought and in practice becomes a bit of a long shot the higher up the ladder you are trying to get placed on.  This method is VERY effective for people just out of college or looking for entry level employment.

Hope that helps...