With so many looking for jobs and seemingly so few jobs available, when a potential job DOES come along, is it a good idea to move to a smaller or larger organization? Maybe it depends on you and on the organization.
Ron worked for a medium-sized company and was in a middle-management position. He was relatively happy, but an opportunity opened at a much, much larger firm and Ron applied for the job and, after the usual interviewing process, an offer was made. The money was only slightly better, but the position was a bit lower-level than he was used to. What to do? Ron’s dilemma: more money and a lower-ranking position or keep the same money and stay in that “just-a-bit-higher-level” job that he already had?
Ron talked with this brother, his best friend, his colleagues, and his wife to try to determine whether he should stay where he was or take on a less visible role in a dramatically larger company. His brother told him to stay where he was. His best friend thought Ron might be happier in a firm that appeared to offer greater opportunity for advancement. Most of Ron’s colleagues wanted him to stay in his current position – it was a great company and they had such great camaraderie. To them, the little bit of extra money wasn’t worth the move. Ron thought, “Why would ANYONE want to go from big fish in a small pond to small fish in a big pond? You could just become one of the guppies and could get lost in the hugeness of the new organization!”
Finally, Ron’s wife weighed in on the subject and reminder him that his uncle had once been a big fish in small pond, but that was the extent of his life’s work. Ron’s uncle retired after being in the same position in that small pond for over a decade. Is that how RON wanted to end his career?
That was it. Ron decided to accept the offer and go to work for the larger company. He gave notice, took a couple of weeks off between jobs, and then started anew. This organization seemed enormous when compared to Ron’s old company. Had he made the wrong move? Would his lack of credentials keep him from moving up the ladder? Or would there be so much room for advancement that he could climb as high as his knowledge and skills could take him? He guessed only time would tell.
Time did tell. Within a year, Ron had been promoted and reached a level that was comparable to his old job and with more money that ne ever made back in the small pond. After three years, Ron was essentially 2-3 levels above his old position at his previous company, and he was making considerably more money. Yes, he missed is old colleagues and the fun of working at the old place, but he now had new friends and was making quite a bit more money that he had made in the past. In fact, he was making more money than he had even made in past positions. Being a smaller fish in a bigger pond worked out for Ron.
Being a small fish in a big pond worked well for Ron, but it doesn’t always work. Sometimes our ego needs us to be a big fish in a small pond. Some larger organizations simply don’t have the kind of opportunities that were afforded Ron. For Ron, however, things did work out and had he listened to his buddies at the old place, he never might have experienced the personal growth and prosperity that he gained at the larger company – they had so many more resources. Even when folks couldn’t earn a timely promotion or a raise, the larger organization offered in-house professional development workshops and these same people could continue to prepare for the next level while waiting for that opportunity to present itself.
This is not to say that no one should be a big fish in small pond. There can be benefits that cannot be outdone by the jumbo organization. Each of us has to determine what it is WE want out of a job. Do we want a lot of on-going recognition as a big fish who has been in the small pond for a long time and is firmly entrenched as a recognized (and sometimes revered) figure or are we willing to become a smaller fish for a time and work to utilize the resources that are available to help us grow (into a bigger fish in that bigger pond)?
Sometimes it’s better to keep what we have and enjoy the fruits of our past labor rather than take a chance that we might (or might not) be able to move up an unknown ladder. Sometimes, however, it’s a great adventure to go small and work to grow even bigger than we were in the small pond. The choice faces many of us when we are looking to change jobs. What’s the answer? Each person has to weigh out the advantages and disadvantages of big fish, small pond and small fish, big pond. There IS no pat answer that applies to us all. Change worked for Ron, but it may or may not work for all of us.