SMEs – the Graduate Scheme alternative

Think graduate schemes are the only option? Think again! Our guest blogger, Anna Pitts of the Graduate Recruitment Bureau, explores the great advantages of working for a SME.


You might think that the best kind of job you can get once you’ve graduated from university is with a large, multinational corporation, perhaps on their graduate scheme. But graduate jobs have far more scope than that. Whilst there are advantages to bigger businesses with well established brands, they aren’t your only option for employment. There are 4.8 million businesses in the UK, and 99% of these are small or micro businesses employing fewer than 10 people- that’s a lot of SMEs! (Department of Business, Innovation and Skills)

Anna Pitts of the Graduate Recruitment Bureau explores some of the benefits of working for an SME and why they should be at the top of your ‘work options’ list.

Personal and tailored training:

Often, the training you’ll receive at a large company has a rigid structure and everyone on the scheme gets the same training. Of course this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however it does mean that there is no individuality in the process and there can be a sense of being ‘just a number’ in a large workforce. In an SME this isn’t the case. Due to the small number of employees you may be ‘thrown in at the deep end’ however you will still receive training if you need it and it will be tailored exactly to your needs, strengths and weaknesses. You may find you progress quicker because of this, excelling ahead of your bulk training scheme equivalents.

More responsibility and involvement:

In an SME you’ll find you have a higher profile in the company. In a large business you might be an assistant in a department whereas, in an SME it could be that you are the only person in that department. For example, you could represent the social media unit, thereby soaring straight to executive position. Being the sole employee in charge of a pivotal part of the success of the business can be a daunting prospect, but it also means that you are getting valuable experience which will impress future employers and you will have a great sense of worth.

An intimate work environment:

Working closely with workmates is common in an SME environment. There won’t be rows and rows of office cubicles separating you from your colleagues and faces you don’t recognise even after 5 years of working there. In an SME you have no choice but to get to know everyone in the workforce by name; the working environment and atmosphere is much more personable and close knit throughout all departments. The CEO won’t be in some grand over-sized office separate from the rest of the team- you will probably be sitting next to them!


Due to the more intimate nature of SMEs the feelings of worth, importance and responsibility can be greater among employees, amounting to a happy workforce! Additionally, when a promotion opportunity arises you may be more likely to be put forward. Not only is there less competition but in an SME you may work closely with the boss or manager and hence your achievements will not have gone unnoticed. SMEs recognise that you are an integral part of the company and often have the ability to promote and reward promptly and accordingly.

More variety:

In an SME  job roles are often less rigidly defined. You may not have a job description or title per se, but rather be employed to fulfil a number of roles within the business. You could be in charge of, or at least involved in, different tasks and projects meaning you will have a varied working experience. Work at large companies can get monotonous meaning pesky boredom sets in- the chances of that happening at an SME are far lower!

There are pros and cons to every type of work environment and it is important that you have a good knowledge of the types of jobs available to you before you start to apply. Think about what you want out of a job to decide which employment setting would best suit you. But remember, just because a company has 8 employees and doesn’t have a swanky office in London, it doesn’t mean that they won’t be a good choice of employer. SMEs have passion, a vision and dedication which makes them great environments for talented graduates to thrive by providing optimum conditions for them to make an impact in their industry.

Written by Anna Pitts, a Marketing Assistant and Online Researcher at the Graduate Recruitment Bureau. Her work involves PR and outreach and writing informative, interesting advice based articles for graduates and students. Follow her on twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.



Filed under Advice, Job Market

3 responses to “SMEs – the Graduate Scheme alternative

  1. Pingback: SMEs – the Graduate Scheme alternative | Bournemouth University Placements & Careers Service Employability Blog

  2. Pingback: Your Job Search post 2013 graduation | University of Leeds Careers Centre Blog

  3. Pingback: Graduate employment prospects: High Fliers survey | University of Leeds Careers Centre Blog

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