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Financial blogger David worked as a staff scientist for a large defense contract corporation — over 70,000 employees — for four years before leaving it to join a small startup of eight employees. He had several reasons for making the shift, including salary and difficulty securing a promotion. David believes the latter was largely due to a lack of performance recognition — a common tale in larger corporations.
“Even though I was consistently exceeding my expectations and performing more effectively than people with 10 more years of experience than me, I was ultimately not recognized for my accomplishments,” David writes in an email.
As such, he decided to seek out employment elsewhere and landed upon a small startup firm in Washington D.C. that was only a year old. While he interviewed for a technical consultant position, he ended up being offered a job with way more responsibility as well as a 25% boost in salary over his current corporate job.
Today he has the freedom to shape his career how he wants, because the startup he works for is anything but a rigid corporate system.
A smaller pond makes it easier to learn to swim
David’s experience is just one example of a trend that’s starting to emerge in business. According to a recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, smaller startups are offering prospective employees more and better career opportunities than their large, corporate forefathers.
The study was led by John Haltiwanger, an economist at the University of Maryland. He came to the conclusion that newer startup firms tend to be the ones to poach employees from other companies, often using more money and a higher ranking position as bait.
The study’s data showed small startups are more than twice as likely to attract job jumpers than their larger, corporate counterparts.
While it may not be the only reason for the attraction, pay seems to play a major factor. The pay bump from big to small company comes to a one percent salary increase per quarter on average.
That, however, is far from the only pivotal reason people in steady, corporate vessels are jumping to smaller ships. Many employees cite freedom to expand the size and scope of their career as priority number one.
For David Attard, Co-founder of Dart Creations, the move was about nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit.
“With people like myself, the startup’s pace and growth are our motivation,” Attard explains. “Our ability to be in the driver’s seat and take quick decisions will always take us back to the startup.”
Many times the hours spent working at a startup are longer than they would be at more established companies, but, for the most part, everyone seems happy to put in the time. Feeling like they’re part of something important makes the effort worthwhile.
That’s why Kat Quinzel, who left her job at Callcredit for a small company called Vintage Cash Cow, was converted to the startup life 10 months ago.
“Life in a startup is insanely different to life at a corporation,” Quinzel writes in an email. “It’s more stressful, the hours are longer and the job role is totally undefined, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I actually feel like I’m part of something, I’m building something that I can and will be proud of. I don’t feel like I ‘have to go to work’ every day. I feel more like I’m part of a huge project with a bunch of people who are all striving to build something amazing.”
Ready to close your eyes and take the leap into a startup? If you’re currently stuck in a larger, more traditional company, you’ll of course, want to wait until you know the startups you’re interested in working for are actually looking for new employees.
However, another thing that will affect the success of your move is the state of the economy. According to a recent CNBC survey, Americans are feeling pretty confident about the overall health of economy right now, so this might be your moment. It may feel a little scary, but that’s how all the most exciting, life-changing adventures begin.