Should you consider SME jobs as a fresh graduate?
You just left campus and you are among the multitude of fresh graduates scrambling to get through the huge, imposing iron gates to some of the largest corporations in Kenya. Upon getting to the glass door, you find it tightly locked with the guard occasionally opening the door for one or 2 people who probably have appointments, so you wait, and wait, and wait…..Maybe you should quit altogether and consider SME jobs which are less competitive and can offer great platforms for launching a rapidly-growing career. SMEs (Small and medium enterprises) have been on the rise in the last decade owing to an improved economy.
According to a report by the Entrepreneur’s Toolkit, the SME sector alone provides employment for a whopping 80% of the population. This indicates that the sector is a huge employer and if you are finding it hard to be among the 20% employed by the government and large corporations, it is time to adjust your sails.
Additionally, the sector absorbs up to 50% of job seekers who are not looking to get into farming activities and it grows at a rate of 12-14% per annum, meaning that SME jobs are not in short supply. This sector also receives a lot of support from the government meaning that that Small or medium enterprise might just play in the league of giants, which you so badly want to get into, in a couple of years. SMEs are also on a growth path and this means that they are always looking to hire new people as they expand.
With this in mind, here are some of the great career reasons which make SME jobs very attractive for those who just graduated and are looking to grow their careers rapidly.
More responsibility, more learning and growth
SMEs do not have many employees performing very specialised tasks. This means that the few employees on board get to take on more responsibilities than those in large corporations who perform more specialised tasks.
This provides a very good chance for fresh graduates to learn as SME jobs and duties are very flexible. Employees take on many responsibilities which improve their skills and make them more competent than those who hold specialised roles in large organisations. Additionally, the nature of the jobs keeps changing which means that you will learn constantly, which keeps you more engaged to your work and gives you lots of satisfaction with your job.
Since these are growing businesses, you also get more control over projects, giving you the freedom to make more decisions, learn and grow. You also take more initiative which creates room for creativity and innovation. This growth in skills and competencies is what will help you rise through the ranks or even get a job in the large corporations. This is very rewarding for those who do not like the idea of getting stuck in one position, doing the same thing for too long.
As stated earlier, it is easy to get a promotion in an SME as you get to do more work and grow with the organisation. In large corporations, promotions are slow and very hard to come by. These are companies that have solid structures and rigid opportunities, as compared to SMEs which still have a huge potential to grow.
SME jobs provide fresh graduates with faster promotion opportunities which may not be present in large companies. This rapid growth is motivating and is a direct reward for all the hard work you put in to ensure that there is rapid growth for the company. If you are motivated by the rapid growth of skills and position, you might want to take SME jobs more seriously.
You get to sharpen your problem-solving skills
SMEs have small budgets and this calls for innovation and creativity in order to stay afloat. SME jobs sharpen your entrepreneurial skills and you get to learn how to make the most out of what you have, by constantly looking for ways to solve emerging problems, creatively.
These problem-solving skills have the ability to catapult your career as you prove that you are an asset and that you are capable of tackling emerging problems in business, which are always bound to arise. This is a skill you can always utilise on your next job.
Your ability to solve arising business problems will help the company grow and your effects will definitely be felt in the industry, setting the stage for you so that you can get good recognition, which can lead to other job offers.
Shorter decision-making bureaucracy
Large corporations already have a set standard of doing things and a small decision may take weeks or months to be approved and implemented. The decision-making bureaucracy can be draining and can lead to frustrations especially if you are trying to implement something that increases the company’s competitiveness in the market.
SMEs have shorter decision-making channels and you can easily have great ideas implemented within a short period so that the business can maximise its profits and operations. This way, you feel encouraged to be more creative and actively look for solutions because you know they matter. Nothing boosts your morale than knowing that your ideas matter and they make a difference.
Shorter induction period and more hands-on experience
The induction process in a large company can be long and draining and it can even take weeks. You get the meet departmental heads, directors and other people you will be working with then you are trained on how to use systems and this process can be tiresome if not overwhelming.
SME jobs, on the other hand, are pretty hands-on and the induction process takes a couple of hours to a day. This gives you the chance to hit the road running and learn as you go. Well, this tends to be more exciting as you gain knowledge and solve problems at the same time, which can also allow you to identify business problems and solve them.
Taking on responsibilities early also helps you interact with your colleagues closely and often leads to success in the long run. You get to make your contribution as soon as you start working and this is what will help you learn much faster and grow.
Teamwork in practice
We all hear that teamwork is the best approach in business and it definitely is because each member brings something unique on board which is great for business. However, this is not so apparent in large organisations where people only tend to work closely with those they are in the same department with. Any other interaction is structured and very rigid, often laden with bureaucracy.
SME jobs are great for those who would rather just walk to their colleague’s desk and request for something or seek clarification. It does not matter that the colleague is in a different department as the idea is to get things done and done as soon as possible. You also get to work closely with people in senior management which is great for your career as you can always learn from them.
The ability to simply walk over to your boss’s desk or colleague from another department helps to create strong teams due to the ability to work closely together. You learn what others are doing and how it affects your work, and you work closely to ensure that things run smoothly. You make the rules as you go.
You can define your own role
Working in a large corporation can often make one feel like a cog in a wheel. Your duties and responsibilities are rigidly defined and there is specialisation. You are likely to hold one job and one job alone. Your role is defined and you are unlikely to get an opportunity to take on other responsibilities. The way of doing things is also tried and tested and this leaves little room for experimentation and can stifle your creativity.
SME jobs are still being defined and responsibilities are taken by those who are able to execute them well. If you are in one department and you feel like you can do a job in another department well, you can go ahead and offer your expertise and get things done. This allows you to define your own job and how you get things done, which can be very satisfying. You also gain more skills which you can transfer later on in your career.
Recruitment is done on demand
This is perhaps one of the biggest reasons to consider SME jobs if you have been tarmacking for a while. SMEs do not have recruitment cycles like large companies. They look to fill positions if and when they arise and this means that you have a good opportunity of landing a job with an SME anytime as compared to large companies.
Your academic qualifications are also of little significance for SME jobs than it is for jobs in large corporations. SMEs are usually interested in hiring people who can get the job done and done well. The focus is on your productivity than your degree.
Shorter application process
Most big companies have long and elaborate application processes that are spread across weeks or months. You might even be interviewed by so many people before finally dealing with your direct manager.
However, SME jobs have relatively short and straightforward application processes in most cases, you will only be required to submit your CV and application letter, after which you will have one or 2 interviews, during which you might even meet your line manager. This process is less stressful and gets you acquainted to those you will work with, quickly.
In conclusion, SME jobs are on the rise in Kenya as the economy expands, creating room for more businesses. If you are a fresh graduate who is finding it hard to get into the large corporations, pay attention to SMEs as they offer great opportunities for you to learn and grow in your career. The challenges experienced sharpen your ability to proactively solve problems creatively, which is important for you to develop your skills.