In a recent article published by The Times of India, we are again reminded of the thousands of people that have been laid off in the last year or so. The sector the article chose to highlight was large high-tech companies. Some of the key numbers:
- Hewlett-Packard: 24,600
- Intel: 10,500
- IBM: 5,000
- Microsoft: 5,800
- Sony-Ericsson: 2,000
- Sun/Oracle: 5,000
Large vs. small
As we all know, this is just a sampling of what is going on, but the trend in firings is among large corporations. Larger companies have large-scale projects or multiple factories or warehouses. They can cancel project or consolidate operations whenever the financial results dictate cost-cutting is required. And when it's time to grow a little, they often try to work with the manpower they currently have.
Although smaller companies cut back in their own ways, they need to maintain a baseline of operations to stay in business. In other words, they can only cut so much. And when they win a new contract with a client or need to expand production for a surge in demand, they are quicker to react by expanding their staff.
Smaller companies also have limited resources in terms of technical knowledge, industry connections or specialized skills. They can only cover so much ground with a smaller team. When unique requirements come up, they are quick to look for those resources outside the company walls.
Connecting to smaller companies
For reasons such as these, it is important not to overlook the smaller companies in terms of new opportunities for employment. Of course, like most things, timing is everything. The best advice is to start meeting some of the leaders of these companies (how many times have you heard the word networking in your job search?). Go to chamber of commerce meetings. Talk to a recruiter who deals with a lot of smaller-sized companies. Ask your neighbors not only whom they work for, but also who their company does business with locally.
The informal interview
If the company you targeted is not hiring at the time, you might find this to be in your favor long-term. Try to schedule an "informal interview" with one of the key managers. Let them know that you understand they are not hiring presently, but do understand how they sometimes need to move quickly on hiring folks when situations change. Good managers are always "filling their funnel with good candidates." During that meeting, treat the discussion as an interview by providing them information on key skills that they could leverage.
Also, learn as much as you can about the company so you can follow-up with intelligent questions later. You'll want to send a thank-you note and periodically "check-in" to see what the employment outlook is like. Some managers may even refer you to other colleagues whom they know are hiring.
The advantages of going small
There are several key advantages to networking with smaller companies. There tends to be less "red tape" or HR process to deal with. Managers tend to be freer to entertain questions or requests from potential candidates. Also, these companies often leverage networking first, before posting jobs on boards or using recruiters. By connecting with them proactively, you might be considered for a job before it's opened up to the general public.
While the larger companies may have a lot of jobs on their job boards at times, they also have the biggest layoffs. Think small for going big time in your job search.