The benefits of starting your career at an SME

Headshot of Ros Earl
Ros Earl, Student Engagement Assistant – Employability and Careers

While structured graduate schemes with large companies may be widely promoted, most graduates will start their career at an SME (small to medium-sized enterprise.)

Employment in SMEs represents 60% of all UK employment*, so let’s consider the advantages.

Starting your job soon

Jobs can start at any time of the year. SMEs advertise their roles as they need staff rather than when a scheme starts, so you may be able to dive into this type of role within the next few months.

Wide scope of responsibilities

Your workload is likely to be very varied giving you a taster of lots of different business areas. You will be able to broaden your skillset and therefore develop an understanding of the areas in which you would like to progress your career.

Making connections

Working within a small team will enable you to form valuable relationships with your colleagues who could be a close support throughout your professional life.

Developing adaptability and confidence

You will need to be flexible to work with the demands that occur within a smaller organisation. You will be expected to be an agile thinker and solve problems. Although this may feel daunting it will give you a lot of confidence when your efforts to make improvements yield results.


In a smaller company your impact will be noticed and recognised. You may gain additional responsibility sooner, and you can contribute to decisions that help the direction of the business early on in your career.

What do SMEs look for?

Cultural fit and transferable skills including communication, teamwork, self-management, adaptability, and creativity are important in taking on the varied workload of an SME. Showing enthusiasm and a genuine interest to develop your career with the company will be important.

If you are keen to take on responsibility, are comfortable with change and like variety, an SME could be a good fit for you.

How to find a job at an SME

SME’s often fill roles through applications via their own websites, word of mouth, networking, and through speculative applications. Check out our tips for making speculative applications in Job Seeking: The Hidden Job Market.

You can also check the jobs available to apply to at Surrey Research Park.