Project vs Company

10 March by Cognitive Group

Group Working

When seeking your next role, two things spring to mind that are valued beyond all else. The company and the project. In an ideal world, you’ll get to join an industry leading organisation that just so happens to be implementing a ground-breaking project with scope to learn loads of amazing new skills. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, and there’s a good chance you will find yourself having to make a compromise between the two. So, which should you value more? How do you weigh up what’s more important for your career? Lets discuss further… 

The Company 

  1. Reputation 

The company you’ll be working for is of course of major importance. The power of brand association alone is not to be underestimated, and if you get the chance to be hired by a noteworthy organisation it can represent a lot more than just a name on a CV. It can instantly create an impression of being well-trained, knowledgeable and experienced, which are things that every hiring manager will want to see. Needless to say this will make your future applications stand out more to hiring managers, as you’ll be able to communicate more about yourself just by the mention of a name and what reputation that brings. 

  1. Best Practice  

But being able to leverage a company’s reputation isn’t all there is to this. Being part of certain organisations can really develop your understanding of core business practices. Processes, culture, performance, responsibilities and KPI’s are all important things to grasp at any firm. By being part of a large or leading organisation, you are giving yourself the best environment to understand these elements and learn how to manage them effectively. And the larger the organisation the more complex these processes become. So, by getting used to performing within these more intricate structures/processes it’s likely you’ll find it easy to adapt when you’re changing role in the future. 

  1. Culture  

And last but certainly not least: culture. Today more so than ever, the marrying up of corporate culture and individual worker values is more relevant than ever. Opting to work for a company with a corporate culture that you feel you fit in to well, will give you a better chance of succeeding. Everyone is different. Some will love to be a part of a massive company with loads of layers and processes, whereas others will prefer smaller organisations that perhaps provide more responsibility and adaptability. But identifying which environment will enable you to achieve your best performance is as important as any other factor when weighing up job offers. 

The Project 

Now let’s talk about the other hugely important consideration, the project you’ll be working on. You should be thinking of this at the top level: are there opportunities to work with the latest technology set? What is the overall size/scale of the project? What transferable skills can I learn? Who will I be working with? 

Hiring managers want candidates who can demonstrate a wide skill set. So, getting the chance to work with the latest tech, or on a project that gives you the time to upskill, should be high on any contractor’s agenda as it helps add new capabilities to the list of tech skills you have already. Not to mention that technology is constantly changing, so it’s imperative to stay up to date in order to set you apart from other candidates. Similarly, working with a larger organisation often means working on more complex projects that present numerous challenges. Even if the project is not a complete success, you should be able to demonstrate your ability to overcome difficult situations and deliver under pressure. These are valuable skills that can set candidates apart.  

And, of course, you won’t be working on a project alone so, bear in mind the team you will be working with and how this may impact not only your day to day experience but consider how it could help further your career. Think size, structure, diversity. The size and structure of the team will indicate how much influence and relevance your role may command. This is important in ensuring you experience a great sense of fulfilment as well as actually developing yourself further as an employee by getting your hands dirty with meaningful tasks. Regarding this, you should also consider support and management – are you going to be left to sink or swim? Or are you going to be pointed in the right direction? But also consider the background of your colleagues-to-be. Surrounding yourself with skilled, successful candidates is the best way to learn. The main benefit of being part of a great team is being able to transfer knowledge. 
Bottom line 

The name of the company that you work for isn’t everything. But it is hugely significant. Inevitably, large companies will be able to offer great resources capabilities and an infrastructure for learning about core processes. Not to mention the chance to transfer knowledge and be part of great teams. On other hand smaller companies may give you more of a seat at the table and enable you to really get your hands dirty, though perhaps at the cost of a lack of support or quality team members. 

This is why selecting the right project is of such equal importance. Being able to be a part of a truly exciting project is as much of a self-marketing tool as being part of an industry leading organisation. Ultimately what it should boil down to is you. You need to be able to recognise what things are important to you and for you, in order to develop your career. You may need responsibility and influence more than a massive brand name and it’s company infrastructure, or indeed vice versa. But what is definitely recommended is that you strongly consider all of the factors discussed here, to help you weigh up your options and make a suitable and measured decision.