Finding Graduate IT Jobs in SMEs

While there is an allure to working in big IT companies, SME IT firms offer plenty of opportunities and benefits for graduate employees as well.
Nurhuda Syed
Editor, gradsingapore

Singapore’s open economy makes it an attractive hub for MNCs to set up their Asia Pacific headquarters in the country. It has been found though, that many graduates, including IT graduates, are likely to start their careers with an SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) rather than a large corporation.

So don’t neglect SMEs when embarking on your job searching journey, as these companies offer plenty of growth opportunities as well.

Why SMEs?

While many IT graduates may dream of rubbing shoulders with professionals from big tech companies such as Google or Facebook, start-ups and middle-sized corporations offer plenty of career benefits as well.

SMEs typically have 200 employees or less, which makes it easier to foster a close-knit work environment with your colleagues. There is also the possibility of having a high level of autonomy and early responsibility.

The steep learning curve and ability for cross-departmental work will also help you gain crucial skills at a faster pace and provide you with a well-rounded work experience.

It may also be easier for your efforts to get recognised in a small company, as opposed to a larger one, which will lead to greater job satisfaction and motivation for your work. Managers and directors may also have a higher level of involvement with the day-to-day work of the business, giving you access and the chance to tap into their vast experience and expertise.

Many IT graduates have also noted that SMEs offer a greater degree of flexibility in the workplace compared to large companies, such as flexible work arrangements.

How to track down small IT companies

IT and technology SMEs don’t always put up hiring notices for various reasons (e.g. high advertising fees) which means you will need to know exactly where to look. Here are some options to start you off:

Career centres: Often, your school’s career centre will have partnerships with IT companies, and will be able to connect you with someone within the company.

Specialist IT job boards: Most career services will also provide specialised job listings to their students, so they need not trawl through a whole pool of unrelated jobs. Some online job portals also offer such services.

Start-up meet ups: Attend start-up meet ups not just to gain more insights on their work culture etc., you should also approach the company representatives to find out if they have any possible job/internship openings.

Networking: Speak to everyone about your job search – family, friends, lecturers and tutors, mentors, and course mates. You never know who’ll be able to link you up with a potential job opening.

Speculative applications

Many IT graduates also enter SMEs through speculative applications as smaller companies often don’t advertise their vacancies, preferring to hire through word-of-mouth instead. The onus will be on you to do your own research and to pinpoint the skills needed by the employer before writing up your résumé and cover letter.

Highlight your relevant skills and experience in your application to get a better hit rate with the employer. Also, always make sure to follow up with a call a few days later to ask about the status of your application.

Training and progress

Training programmes in SME IT companies tend to be more informal and less structured than those in large corporations. Instead of having an official graduate programme, training is mostly done on the job, and you can request for additional training as and when necessary. Most IT companies are quite willing to provide the required training if it can be justified.

Additionally, if you’re willing to show initiative in your work, you will be able to enjoy job progression in SME IT firms. Be proactive in mapping out your career advancement plan and decide on the skills required for your own personal development.

Ensure that the skills you develop are useful across a range of roles or business functions, giving you the flexibility to switch into new roles and gain experience to progress quickly.