Small-to-Medium Sized Enterprise

What are SME’s?

SME stands for small and medium-sized enterprises; they are defined by the number of employees and the company’s turnover. They tend to have fewer employees, usually below 250. In the UK, 99% of businesses fall under the SME sector.

Why should you consider working for an SME?

Many students apply for graduate roles at large organisations due to the structured position and the clear career path available, however, that’s not the case for everyone. Some students may prefer to work for a smaller company where the roles and responsibilities may vary from day to day. Working for an SME can be one of the best ways to boost your career prospects and gain transferable skills.  Being employed in a small business may provide you with more opportunities and gives you real hands on experience while working, which will make you stand out compared to other graduates who have joined larger companies.

Research has shown that employees at small business are more satisfied at work; this is due to the fact that the staffs are the most important asset of the business. The Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses said "In terms of the way they treat their staff; small businesses consistently out perform their bigger competitors”.

There are many benefits and drawbacks to each business, however, this can vary from the type and size of the organisation. Here are a few of the benefits of working for an SME compared to a larger organisation:

  • You will be given various responsibilities and a greater variety of work to do.
  • Your contribution will be recognised and will have an impact on the business as a whole.
  • You will be given the chance to alternate roles and work in different departments within the company.
  • It’s much easier to get promoted and progress as the company expands. 
  • You will gain entrepreneurship skills, giving you the opportunity to even set up your own business.


How to find local SME’s

Unlike the larger organisation that hold careers events and attend fairs, SME’s may not be as involved in such events due to the time and cost. Many SME’s may not have a speialist HR or recruitment team who organise the recruitment process and go through all the applications moreover, they tend to publish their vacancies as and when they appear.

Here are a list of ways you can find SME's:

Local newspapers – local SME’s often appear in newspapers when they have new vacancies.

CareersLink – they include several vacancies from both small and big organisations so make sure you keep alerted with the new vacancies. 

Directories – have a look at local directories e.g.  Thomaslocal or Yellow pages and contact companies within specific sectors that may interest.

Manchester Graduate programme – The MGIP programme is a graduate level position for graduates to work with local SME’s.

STEP – A UK based programme offering paid student work placements and graduate internships in smaller businesses.

Knowledge Transfer Partnership – KTP is one of the UK's largest graduate recruitment programmes.

 You can also find SME's using LinkedIn, by searching for companies within your area or even by contacting employment agencies

SME recruitment methods

SME’s don’t hire as many staff as large organisations do, they tend to hire as and when they need to recruit staff either due to expansion or to replace leaving staff. However, when SME’s do have new roles available you can apply by forwarding your CV and a covering letter. Vacancies in small companies can occur at any time and so it’s best to be prepared by having a master CV and knowing how to write a good covering letter.

The Careers service offers various guides and tips for preparing your CV and covering letter, take a look on the Careers website or even visit the Atrium to book an appointment with the Careers Consultants.

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