Why you shouldn’t disregard companies you haven’t heard of before

JodieApplications, Final Year, First Year, Graduates, Postgraduate, Second Year

A group of students sitting together and smiling at a laptop

When it comes to looking for placement or graduate roles, it can be tempting to only look into companies that are household names. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it’s important not to overlook companies just because you haven’t heard of them before. Today, we’re going to take a look at the reasons why you should consider applying to these companies.

Benefits of applying to lesser-known companies

They might be in the sector you want to go into

Maybe you’ve known your whole life that you want to be a programmer, so you’ve started searching for graduate jobs at Microsoft or Apple. Yet there are so many computer software companies out there which you’ll overlook completely if you only target the big-name companies. It’s in your best interests to widen your search.

Their roles might be right up your street

Similarly to the previous point, that unfamiliar company that you stumble across might have the exact role you’re after. Another positive about this is that smaller or lesser-known companies often have less competition for their roles, as many other applicants will be applying to the more well-known companies too. You’ll find it easier to stand out of the crowd if there are less applicants to compete against.

You might not recognise their name, yet you could be a fan of their products

One good example of this is Mondelēz International. Just by looking at their name, it’s not obvious what this company does. In fact, they are one of the world’s largest snacks companies and are responsible for a lot of tasty brands, including Dairy Milk, Oreo, Philadelphia, Toblerone and many more. Having a greater understanding of what a company produces could influence your decisions when looking for companies to apply to.

The hiring time frames might be different

Many larger companies have rigid application and recruitment deadlines, that tend to take place once a year. This can be frustrating if you’ve just missed the deadline for a company with a graduate scheme you wanted to apply to. The good news is, smaller companies often recruit at multiple points throughout the year when a role becomes available. Some of them are also open to speculative applications, which is where you would contact a company to ask whether they have a suitable job for you, despite the fact that aren’t currently advertising a particular vacancy.

By widening your job search then, you’ll be increasing your chances of securing a role.

Smaller companies have a lot of benefits

While working for a big-name company can be great, there’s lots to be gained from working at an SME (small-to-medium-sized enterprise). We’ve gone into lots of detail about the benefits of working for an SME in this blog post, but here’s a little recap of some of the positives:

  • You’ll often have greater responsibility
  • There will be opportunities to get stuck into a greater range of tasks
  • You’ll work more closely with senior leaders in the business
  • There’s the potential to move up the career ladder more quickly

Our tips

Hopefully that’s helped convince you that it’s worth exploring a range of companies, rather than only sticking to the ones you know. Here’s our advice to get the ball rolling:

  • Do your research to see if the company would be the right fit for you. This is true whatever kind of company you’re thinking about applying to but looking up the name of a company you don’t know might pleasantly surprise you. Look at things like their company website, follow them on social media and see if they manage a blog you can read or podcast you could listen to.
  • Get personal insights into the company to get a feel for their working environment. You could look up the company on Glassdoor, a website where employees can review companies they’ve worked for, or reach out to employees of the company through LinkedIn.
  • If you want a career in engineering, you might be Googling companies like BAE Systems, Network Rail and Dyson to see what opportunities they have. However, by doing this you’ll miss out on a whole swathe of jobs. Instead, try searching for more generic terms like ‘electrical engineering placements in Birmingham.’

The Big Careers Fair

In case you hadn’t heard, we’ve got our Big Careers Fair coming up on Wednesday 20th October and we’d love to see you there especially if you’re after an internship, placement or graduate job. There will be over 50 companies in attendance which means there are lots of opportunities to find an exciting role.

If you’re planning on coming, we highly recommend spending some time looking at all of the employers in the listing on Careers Fair Plus (which is where the fair will be hosted) and reading their profiles to get an insight into the type of work they do and what roles they have available. Once you’ve done this, you can make a decision on which employers you want to speak to on the big day.

You can find out more about the fair and how to use Careers Fair Plus on this webpage.

Jodie, a member of Careers+Placements staff

Written by Jodie Carpenter, Careers and Placements