Small, medium sized enterprises (SMEs)

Useful reading

What is a small, medium sized enterprise (SME)?

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills defines an SME as a private sector business which employs fewer than 250 employees

  • micro firm: 0 - 9 employees
  • small firm: 10 - 49 employees
  • medium firm: 50 - 249 employees

In the UK 99.9% private sector companies are SMEs, employing approximately 14 million people.

Why work for an SME?

Working in a small business provides the opportunity to get your ideas heard and to get real hands-on experience. You will usually encounter

  • varied working environment
  • possibly a higher profile within the business
  • variety in the work
  • early responsibility and autonomy
  • sense of making a real contribution to the business
  • more contact with senior members of the company
  • greater likelihood of getting to know everybody, staff and clients
  • opportunities for career advancement in expanding companies

Recruitment methods in SMEs

Small businesses

  • tend to recruit as required
  • unlikely to have formal graduate training schemes
  • vacancies may occur at any time of year
    More about job hunting
  • applications are usually by sending a CV and covering letter
    More about applications and interviews
  • have little information about careers opportunities within their company on their website which is generally aimed at clients and customers.

 Big opportunities in small businesses

  • Explores how graduates and SMEs can benefit one another. Graduates and their employers relate their own experiences and offer practical advice. (DVD, 40 mins). Available to borrow from the Careers Service - ask at the information desk

Being employed in an SME

  • Produced by University of Warwick Student Careers and Skills service. Watch this short film of an employer explaining the benefits of working for an SME.
    Being employed in an SME YouTube video

Find and research SME employers

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