By Susan P. Joyce
A job with a Fortune 500 employer is a different world from most other employers. These are the largest companies, although not always extremely large employers, and their names are usually very well-known, across many states or the globe. That can be very good for your career.
A Fortune 500 company could be a viable option for employment, and whether you are a new grad, or a seasoned professional.
The companies on the Fortune 500 list are important to job seekers for four primary reasons:
Working for a Fortune 500 employer can be a dream, or it can be pure torture. It depends on what you want and the way you like to work. Think about your long-term career and life goals, and consider if a Fortune 500 employer is a good fit for you.
Particularly when you work at corporate headquarters, you are involved in "leading edge" things, and your employer can afford to provide you with the latest and greatest technology. People are startled when I say that I've been using email since 1981, but that was how the company kept all 120,000 of us connected world-wide. It was extremely useful, and great fun, and we were at least 10 to 15 years ahead of most of the world.
You also usually end up with a very large network of co-workers and former co-workers, vendors, customers, and others that is a life-long advantage. Most of the Fortune 500 companies have large "alumni" groups on LinkedIn and elsewhere. [See Job-Hunt's Corporate Alumni Group Directory for a large sample.]
When the layoffs began with my employer, many of my colleagues ended up working for customers or following other co-workers and managers to other employers. It wasn't easy to survive the layoffs, but it would have been much tougher for all of us without that large network to tap.
If you don't work in the headquarters location, your job and career opportunities may be more limited inside the company, but that name on your resume may well open more doors to you with other employers.
Unfortunately, over the years, several of these companies have become famous, or infamous, for "off-shoring" - sending large categories of jobs to locations where labor is cheaper. They also merge, are acquired by or acquire other companies as part of their global positioning. So, a job with one of these companies is not more secure than a job with a smaller company, and perhaps somewhat less secure in some circumstances.
Often people who work for such a large company become minutely specialized in a subset of a standard field. When I worked for a Fortune 30 company (with over 120,000 other employees), my job was business manager of large fixed-price Federal Government procurements. It was a fun job (millions of dollars of equipment and services could be sold in a single contract), a tough job (millions of dolllars...), and I learned a great deal in it that still helps me today in my current job.
But, when I was laid off (the company, and all 120,000 jobs, disappeared in fewer than 10 years!), local employers were not interested in hiring me. One even told me that I was "just another big-company bureaucrat."
Another problem can be the reputation associated with the company name. Many of these large companies are hated by different individuals and groups, sometimes for good reason and sometimes not. As an employee, even a former employee, you may be impacted by that attitude.
If the Fortune 500 were a country, their combined revenues of $12.1 trillion would create the world's second largest economy, second only to the United States. The Fortune 500 are home to millions of jobs of many diverse backgrounds, many different locations, and in many different industries.
To learn about how to find a job at one of these companies, see the articles linked in the right column.
According to Fortune, companies on the Fortune 500 & 1000 lists are "ranked by total revenue for their respective fiscal years. Included in the survey are U.S. incorporated companies filing financial statements with a government agency..." plus "companies and cooperatives which file financial statements with a government agency, and mutual insurance companies that file with state regulators."
Neither Job-Hunt.org nor NETability, Inc. have any relationship with Fortune magazine or its parent company. We provide this information as a service to job seekers.
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.