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Gradates find hope in small firms

- 22nd March 2009

 

 

Katie Taylor

WITH the big graduate employers cutting recruitment this year, university leavers are expected to focus on the small business sector.

In recent years this has been a source of good career opportunities, but is that still the case? Lorna Pellet, director of Edinburghbased Graduates for Growth, an organisation that specialises in matching graduates with small and medium-sized businesses, says: 'The market is tough everywhere, but some sectors, such as IT, telecoms and environmental, are still recruiting and offering some exciting career prospects.

'Many of these are small, very new high-growth companies and graduates must research them carefully and get their pitch just right, not coming across as overly ambitious but able to demonstrate clearly the value that they can bring to the business.'

When computer science graduate Chris Mason was taken on as a website developer at shiply.com, which allows companies to use the empty space on delivery vehicles making return journeys, the fact that the business was less than nine months old and that he was its first employee did not worry him. Chris, 23, from Manchester, says: 'It is a relatively young company, but it has big ambitions in terms of the services being offered.

Being part of a smaller team means that your role is more important to the overall development of the company.

'And being one of the first into a new, high-growth company means you can progress within the company far more quickly than you would in a large organisation.'

With such clear career benefits, Shiply's founder and managing director, Robert Matthams, has been surprised at a lack of interest shown by graduates. 'I haven't received any speculative graduate CVs,' he says.

'I would expect a business that is achieving 100 per cent growth each month and whose core business addresses the carbon issue by cutting the number of empty vehicles on the road would appeal to ambitious youngsters with an interest in the environment.'

Some may consider joining a small company during a recession too risky, but Chris says the risks can be reduced by researching the sector carefully and focusing on companies that show good financial growth prospects.

The key advice, he says, is to find a business that excites you and to have confidence in what you can offer.

'Small businesses rely on their employees' ability to adapt to any situation at any given moment,' he says. 'The focus and dedication this requires means you will really have to enjoy the role that you are applying for.'