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Hit The Ground Running

How Much Does Working At A Name-Brand Company Really Boost Your Career?

Like most other career decisions, opting for a household-name employer has its pros and cons.

How Much Does Working At A Name-Brand Company Really Boost Your Career?
[Photo: Flickr user Robbie Shade]

Google, Bank of America, Exxon. Get a job at a big, well-known brand like these and you won’t have as much explaining to do to friends and family when they ask where you work. Same goes when you’re talking to recruiters. So, you’re better off working for a blue chip company early in your career, right?

Well, let’s say the answer to that question is a definite maybe. Here are the pros and the cons of associating your brand with that of a household name.

Pro: You Learn About Core Business Practices

Big companies have big numbers to hit. There’s more money at stake and more people working toward the goals.

As a result, working for a large business, "you’ll learn about process, politics, performance, hiring, responsibility, and perhaps most importantly, KPIs [key performance indicators] and how to track results and impact," says James Sinclair, principal at EnterpriseJungle, an enterprise software company in Los Angeles.

Learning about these realities early in your career will not only better prepare you for the corporate world in the future, but it can also be a useful learning experience if you plan to someday go on to start their own companies.

Pro: You Get The Benefit Of Brand Association

Recruiters spend six seconds scanning your resume before making a decision for the yes or no pile, Amanda Augustine, career expert at TopResume told Monster.

Which name do you think a recruiter will linger longer on—Facebook or South Dakota Social Media Agency? Nothing against South Dakota, but Facebook is more likely to turn a few heads.

Benedicta Banga, founder of online career management agency Gradstrategy, says that working for a top brand holds a major advantage when applying for future jobs. "When hiring managers look at candidates and recognize a big name, it instantly creates an impression of a well-trained candidate with a lot of valuable experience and knowledge," she says.

Pro: You Get A Built-In Network

Similar to having a name brand on your resume, listing one in your work experience on social networking sites or your online portfolio can give you a leg up on other candidates. You have the advantage of being part of a large network of current and former employees, whom you can easily connect with previous and current employees on social platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter.

"Building an intentional personal presence helps people find you online and in-person," says Jen Dalton, CEO and founder at BrandMirror, a personal branding consultancy located in Oakton, Virginia.

Con: Your Responsibilities May Be Narrow

While it’s not always the case, employees at large, name-brand companies often have very specific job functions. You don’t wear many hats—instead, you focus on a single hat—which can pigeonhole your career or set you down a career path you don’t love.

"Working for a smaller organization that allows you to build experience and gain a reputation for excellence in your industry will take you quickly to the next level," says Michelle L. Merritt, president and CEO of Merrfeld Resumes and Coaching in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Con: You Won’t Work With The Leadership Team

Chances are that if you work for a big company with thousands of employees, you’ll never meet—or work with—the leadership team.

"In a smaller firm you have direct access to senior leaders," says Jennifer Folsom, chief of corporate development at Summit Consulting, LLC in Washington, D.C. "In our firm, you'll find the two partners working alongside analysts, sleeves rolled up and elbow deep in R code [a programming language]."

Con: You Might Find It Hard To Leave, Even When It’s Time

Being employed by an enterprise organization can kind of feel like staying at the Hotel California. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

"It's hard to give up the perks, stability, and clear role progression offered by many large organizations, particularly when the alternative is moving to a less well-funded, smaller business," says Sam McIntire, founder of Deskbright, an online learning platform for business and tech skills based in San Francisco. "If you do take a role at a big company, make sure that you have clear goals for your next career transition," he says, "and hold yourself accountable to those goals."

The Bottom Line? Other Things Matter More Than A Name

Working for a name brand can certainly open up new doors and help move your career along.

But other factors are more important in the end, says Lynda Spiegel, HR professional and founder of Rising Star Resumes. "Focus on positions with potential growth, available mentors, and interesting work—because ultimately, those matter more than the employer's brand."

This article originally appeared on Monster and is reprinted with permission.

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