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Why Joining an Edgy Company Could Impact an Executive's Career

Posted on September 2020

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A resume with a variety of experiences can be a great weapon in an executive candidate’s arsenal. However, when planning your next career move, be wary of those edgy companies who may end up being a stain on your resume.

What do we mean by ‘edgy’ companies? These companies are usually startups and small businesses who pride themselves on being the ‘different’ option in the market. Some edgy companies can transform sectors with new and innovative ideas, but many also face failure. Joining an offbeat company shows a willingness to take risks, but the decision can also have an impact on your overall career. 

Struggling To Advance

If you are ambitious and want an executive-level career, joining an ‘alternative’ company means you won’t have a set roadmap that you follow with targets to hit before you are eligible for a promotion. 

Companies which are small and fluid could stall to your career rather than add momentum. You either have to wait for someone to leave, which will happen less often within a startup, or hope that the company grows and a new position is created. Those who are motivated and self-sufficient can advance their career within an edgy company, but smaller companies are often looking for a more specific fit which will work with their unique way of running. 

Fewer Opportunities For Development

Unconventional companies will often move and develop fast, and you could end caught up in a roller coaster. Your role may change as your product or service pivots and adapts to the market. Joining an edgy company is a flip of a coin. While you may advance your career very quickly as you grow with the company, you may also be trapped in a position where you are constantly filling in gaps if ideas don’t take off. 

If you join an edgy company early in its history, there is a higher chance that you will find yourself moving up (or at least zig-zagging!) the career ladder, as the hierarchy at edgy companies are much more fluid than at larger corporate companies. However, if the dice don't roll in your favour, you may find yourself falling behind your peers as you are given very few chances to develop and learn at your job. If you are an employee who has seen benefits to onboarding processes, personal development programmes and mentorship structures, you may find yourself struggling without this support within a smaller company.  

You May Be Seen As A Cultural Misfit

Looking ahead to your long-term career, joining a quirky company could be viewed as a misstep when you are seeking executive roles. Companies who want to be viewed as edgy and cutting-edge will also often pride themselves on an unconventional culture. 

At an edgy company, you may be expected to work unusual hours rather than 9-5, cultures are often structured around working collaboratively and flexibly. Evidence of coming from a quirky culture can even be found in job titles - edgy companies may be looking for ‘gurus’ and ‘rock stars’ over plain old executives. 

Everyone works differently, and some will thrive in an unstructured and relaxed culture. However, this may indicate that you are a cultural misfit for those companies who hold a more traditional and conservative culture. 

Even if you are seeking that structure, recruitment managers may see time spent within an alternative work culture means a candidate will struggle to adapt to something more conventional. Though suited to those who are both creative and entrepreneurial, the cultures of edgy companies can also be seen as chaotic, and even toxic at times. 

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You May Be Linked To A Failed Company

Far more startups fail than succeed, and you will only read about the ones that ‘break out’ and join the Unicorns club. For every Airbnb, there are hundreds of YikYaks. Startups and edgy companies may not keep their edge for long, and are more often than not are ‘here today, gone tomorrow’. Your role may not be stable, and your startup career could see a swifter end than you first thought.   

If this happens, you may face issues with being linked to a company which failed to succeed. Because edgy companies will often work in a very collaborative manner, the downfall of a startup can be pinned just as much on teamwork and poor communication than it can on poor leadership. While you can reap the rewards of your individual efforts if you take part in a success story, you may also have to shoulder the blame and some tricky interview questions if your startup fails.