Think outside the job box

It’s easy to focus on the large companies we all know such as Deloitte, Mærsk and Novo Nordisk when you’re looking to land your first job after graduation. However, according to Sanne Mattebjerg, a career consultant at IDA, you’re making it harder on yourself if you insist that bigger is better.


Is your dream realistic?

You’ve handed in your thesis, and your new life as an adult with a grown-up job is just around the corner. You’re picturing yourself cycling or perhaps driving your new car to the headquarters of COWI, Rambøll or Deloitte, where you immerse yourself in new exciting work, give inspirational presentations and attend important meetings.

And yes, this could happen, says Sanne Mattebjerg, but it doesn’t often happen from the start if you have your heart set on landing your first job in one of the large and well-known companies.

Video: Use LinkedIn for the job search

“There may be 50 really well-known companies in Denmark, and these are often the only companies you think about as a new graduate. This is unfortunate, because everyone wants a job with these companies. But actually, the large companies are only rarely looking for new graduates. They can choose the experienced candidates, because they have a lot of candidates to choose from. So instead, why not look at the small companies?” says Sanne Mattebjerg and continues:

“It’s a bit standing outside a row of toilets. If there’s a queue outside one, you join that queue because you think that all the others are out of order. But if you just open the door of the empty toilet, you may see that it’s actually nice and clean with toilet paper, soap and everything else. And all the lemmings will still be queuing up outside the ‘popular’ toilet, while you’ve found somewhere with space and you don’t have to wait.”


Video: Find companies for your unsolicited job search

More tasks and more responsibilites

While large companies may offer prestige and visibility, it’s important to remember that the world of career opportunities is much larger than the few well-known names. Small and medium-sized companies can allow you to explore many different types of tasks, develop close relationships with people other than your bosses and closest colleagues and discover a more varied work culture.

“Small and medium-sized companies are much more likely to let you try different roles and tasks. Sometimes you can also develop close and rewarding relationships more quickly with colleagues slightly removed from your daily work, because of the flatter hierarchy,” says Sanne Mattebjerg and continues:

“You’re much more likely to wear several hats in a company with only 40 employees. This will allow you to work on many different aspects within your field, while in large companies you may be doing the same work for a very long time. In large companies, you’ll often have to work your way up through the ranks before you’re allowed to work on large projects. In small companies, you may be lucky such that you’re the only one with a specific experience or skill, and therefore you’ll be given more responsibility more quickly. Large companies also have many employees, mid-level managers and bosses, so it will take longer than at small companies to build the good and close relationships that are so important for new graduates”.

Video: Connect and plan coffee meetings

Discover hidden opportunities

Finding small and medium-sized companies requires both patience and research though, explains Sanne Mattebjerg.

“Not all small companies have advertised positions or great visibility. So, it’s up to you to explore and examine what companies exist and whether they match your ambitions and skills,” she says and explains that you can search on LinkedIn for specific specialist areas or tasks you think would suit you.

“And then one of the most important things is to contact people. Ask around in your network, contact interesting people on LinkedIn, and write an unsolicited application to the companies that you think could be of interest.”


Video: Get an overview of your network

5 tips for choosing between large and small companies

Think broadly

The right job is not only with well-known companies such as Deloitte and Novo Nordisk. Also consider small and medium-sized companies that can offer unique opportunities.

Look outside the spotlight

Large companies attract many people, but they often look for experienced employees. Focus on smaller companies for greater opportunities as a new graduate.

Explore different roles

Small companies often provide varied tasks and responsibilities. You can try several roles, develop the close relationships, and get responsibility faster.

Be patient and explorative

Look for hidden opportunities in small companies through LinkedIn and your network. Unsolicited contact can open doors to exciting job opportunities.

Build a network and take initative

Ask your network, connect with interesting people on LinkedIn, and contact companies directly to create opportunities that suit your ambitions.