Everybody wants to work for a winner. However, when is it appropriate to work for a company with less than shining credentials?
People are always trying to make career changes, usually into an industry that's HOT. Some get to work with the latest products, movie stars, movie makers, and other sports figures and entertainers. You see products advertised on TV and everybody wants one. Many people want to be affiliated with those firms.
But, how does someone from Mercedes or American Express get into these glitzy companies? First, you need a skill that is transferable; jobs like accounting, human resources, and facility are the kind of jobs that are pretty similar across industry lines. Engineering, sales, and marketing are more specific and require knowledge that is not as transferable.
So, if you are in one the luckier professions how do you get in? During normal times, it's probably difficult, but not impossible. Companies are choosier and want directly related industry experience. However, if you know someone in a good company, they can refer you and indicate that you learn fast or are a good worker. Often, the employee will receive a bonus if you get hired so there is good incentive to market you internally. When the external market is as hot, as it is now, companies lower their standards because there aren't as many people to go around. Instead of seeking the 5 year experience person, a college graduate will do.
Short of getting into your ideal firm, consider working for one that is in the same industry but not as well regarded. Their products may not be as competitive or they may have had layoffs. These firms will have a more difficult time finding the right people anyway and may be willing to take someone more on potential than on direct experience.
Knowing your strategy, the idea is to get the relevant experience that will take you to a better company and a better job after "paying your dues". This may mean staying for 12-24 months before you think of jumping ship. On the other hand, things may improve while you're there and the company may turn into a company of choice because new products or new management improved the company's image. Either way, you win