5 Differences Between Roles at a Start-Up and a Corporate Powerhouse

As we look back on 2017, we can safely say that the job market was essentially a tech candidates’ oyster. The high demand for tech professionals led to a candidate-driven tech job market where tech talent had the luxury to choose between the type of tech roles they pursued at the type of organization they wanted. For tech candidates, one of the biggest decisions to make was (and still is) choosing the right opportunity. The range is wide, from tech teams at  corporate powerhouse such as Google, IBM and Boeing to pursuing the 2004 Mark Zuckerberg dream at a start-up with the hopes of building an organization that grows and having an equity stake in it, and everything in between. In the new year when new opportunities come knocking at the doors, here are five differences between start-ups and large organizations to help you choose your next opportunity:

1. Compensation
Compensation is one of the first things tech professionals look at when considering a new role, and according to HRSM, nearly one-third of organizations had increased their overall benefits offerings in the last 12 months. However, compensation packages are different at start-ups and large organizations. Start-ups often don’t have the cash flow to compete with larger organizations that offer higher salaries, so start-ups will make up for salary shortcomings with unique compensation packages that include equity in the organization, unlimited vacation, work from home policy, etc. At larger organizations, the role you’ve applied for typically has a set compensation package that includes professional training, healthcare, paid leave, etc. Start-up compensation packages are molded to individuals whereas larger organization compensation packages are based on a formalized plan.
2. Work/life balance
Large organizations have more internal resources than start-ups, which enables them to provide flexibility and work/life balance. In fact, Indeed recently listed the 20 highest-rated companies for work-life balance, many of which are recognizable Fortune 500 names such as Starbucks and H&R Block. At large organizations, there are more individuals within teams to spread across projects to lighten the work load and reduce the number of hours employees are burning the midnight oil. In addition, there is typically always someone else on your team who can cover you if you’re sick, need to tend to your child or must leave work an hour or two early without compromising the status of the project. At start-ups, you’re often the only person who can get the task at hand done and the status of the project can depend on you finishing your part- even if it means working after hours. When you work at a startup, you’ll often feel like you’re making more of an impact within your organization and you can reap the rewards of your success.  In start-ups though, there tend to be fewer policies which often means more flexibility and autonomy.
3. Role
In order to cautiously maintain cash flow and reduce overhead, start-ups typically hire only for the roles required to get the job at hand done and every contribution is essential. With a limited number of staff members, employees often wear many hats and move between different roles on a day-to-day basis. One day you might be working as the JavaScript Developer that you were hired as, and the next day you might be working as the IT guy because your co-worker’s computer shut down. At large organizations, your day-to-day responsibilities typically remain within the boundaries of your outlined job description. 
4. Culture
Start-ups generally have a more laid-back culture that operates within a flat organizational chart whereas large organizations, in contrast, have a more formal culture that operates within a hierarchal structure. At start-ups, a laid-back culture can mean a casual dress code of jeans and a hoodie with an informal reporting structure. Larger organizations may have a more formal culture where you will see employees wearing button downs and follow a rigid reporting structure. 
5. Project logistics
The decision-making process is one of the biggest differences between start-ups and large organizations for tech professionals. At a startup, there are fewer teams with even fewer key decision makers, which helps centralize and accelerate the decision-making process. At large organizations, there are many key decision makers between the immediate tech team, creative team, legal team, HR, etc. that often need to weigh in on a decision before it’s executed. A quick decision-making process at startups can lead to the ability to tweak or change the direction of the project easier than at large organizations.
Although different, large corporations and small start-ups both offer unique opportunities, perks, challenges and purpose that can shape your tech career. The most important element is identifying the type of environment that will recognize your abilities and where your career can thrive. If you’re looking for guidance and abundant tech opportunities in 2018, connect with us at Intelliswift and we’ll walk you through your next big tech move.