When the time comes to decide which company you would like to work in, you would most likely be interested in working for the best or the biggest. Unfortunately the best or the biggest may not necessarily be the Right company for you. While choosing a company there are a number of factors to consider.
Are all IT companies created equal? Does size really matter? Are you looking for stability or dynamism? Is the only difference between companies based on whether they are experts in .NET or Java, whether they are Indian or MNC, whether they are large company or small company? Do you look for certifications or the real truth?
With so many things to think of how does one find the right IT company to work for? Here’s a layman’s guide on how to analyze an IT company as a candidate.
Like with any match making exercise the key focus should be on looking at the right variables for the company and knowing what’s important to you. Let’s start by understanding the IT company landscape and how different companies stack up!
At the low end are those companies that provide undifferentiated support services (e.g. BPOs, processing support companies, etc) and at the higher end are those that work on the high end services with high customer engagement and innovation (e.g. Google). The companies broadly fall in to the following:
- Support services- Repeatable low skill tasks with focus on process control and volumes
- Development services- Coding or technology skill based tasks with defined requirements
- Design to Implementation- Full lifecycle tasks involving design to execution with higher involvement with customers
- Idea to Ownership- Entrepreneurial projects creating new intellectual property and involves business and marketing elements along with technology expertise
Once you understand where in the value pyramid a company’s services lie, it is important to understand the long-term business model. For example, there is a difference between a company that is solely focusing on support services versus a company that creatively leverages support services for business stability and higher customer engagement as a method to be in touch with the domain and its customers.
While a business model that is focused only on one level of the value stack may be more specialized it would also be more susceptible to economic and business volatility. Moreover, an integrated model leverages its work in multiple levels of the value stack to strengthen the company and provide better service / products to its clients.
Any growth comes with risks and its associated rewards and the past performance of a company is not an indicator of future. Certain companies have huge initial spurts of growth but then stagnate while others grow at a slow but constant rate. With so many disclaimers, how does one really assess a company’s growth and its potential?
Here are some company types:
- Safe and secure conglomerate- a large company with a wide footprint and well defined roles and jobs. Growth is steady and tied to the economic / industry trends.
- Niche specialist– a small to medium size company who specializes in a domain or area and growth is tied to trends in that area and limited to the potential of the domain.
- Accidental entrepreneur – a company that started their business based on some contract or idea but has not evolved into a proper business. They lack a proper business plan and the growth areas are not clear.
- Constant innovator – a company driven by innovation, constantly looking for new business and product ideas and implementing them. It may be small but it is usually very profitable with healthy spurts of growth.
If you are the one looking beyond a good paycheck and job security, then you are looking for personal development opportunities. These opportunities are driven by the company’s culture and innovation bent. Some of the types are:
- Top down and hierarchy based – decisions are made at the top with little room for lower levels to participate or affect them. Employees have a well defined job description and are expected to stick to it. Power resides at top.
- Management process driven – decisions are distributed across the organization, however roles are clearly defined and decisions are made in accordance to the roles though employee input may be considered. Power resides with management layers.
- Empowered teams with open culture – decisions are made based on who has the initiative, skills, and information to make the decision; though they are validated by the management. Power is distributed across organization with no power or political centers.
- Green Lemon – low risk, and learning methods are slow
- Lemon Demon – fast learner and dynamic
- Seasoned Nut – experienced with high skill however may be slow to adapt
- Entrepreneurial Maverick – Very creative and a high risk taker
When making your decision the trick is to find a blend of all the characteristics that you are looking for in a company. A multi-national company may seem like a good secure job but there is not much scope at least initially for moving up or being dynamic and innovative. In the same vein while small and startup companies offer a more dynamic work environment there is always the fear that they might go under. All companies have their pros and cons but in the end the right company will depend on the type of person you are.
Here are some tips on what may work for you based on what type of person you are:
|Your type||Suitable Company||Suitable Environment||Notes|
|Green Lemon||Safe and Secure Conglomerate||Top down / Management process driven||A green lemon needs structure and someone to tell them what to do. They need a few years of experience in a well defined environment|
|Lemon Demon||Constant Innovator / Niche Specialist / Accidental Entrepreneur||Empowered Teams / Management Process||This person benefits from the space and support to learn and apply his/her ideas. They will be suffocated or tamed down in Top Down environment or safe and secure conglomerate.|
|Seasoned Nut||Safe and Secure Conglomerate / Niche Specialist||Top Down / Management Process||They want their security and rewards to operate.|
|Entrepreneurial Maverick||Constant Innovator / Accidental Entrepreneur||Empowered Team||Needs innovative environment and freedom to make a difference.|
|Seasoned Juggler||Safe and Secure conglomerate / Constant Innovator||Empowered Team / Management Process||Needs some structure and some room to apply their skills.|
Note that the classification of companies, culture and person are not water tight compartments. They are simply a way of analyzing and tools that assist you in making your decision. Also the intent is not to stereo type different types of companies. Many large companies are quite innovative and also many small companies may have good processes and financial stability.
Also note that even within large companies there may be pockets of innovative cells and vice versa in small or constantly innovative companies there may be pockets of areas where the work is quite structured.
The whole idea is to have a perspective that starts with understanding your own preferences and needs and then spend the time to understand the company and job profile before taking the plunge.