Trying to land a new job can be difficult, even during the best of times.
If you have recently owned a business and are now trying to reenter the work force, you know what we mean.
Writing a resume when you have owned your own company can be even more difficult, but resume tips from an expert can make life much easier!
“Owning a business” means being self-employed. And if you’ve been self-employed for any length of time, the most recent part of your resume where an employer would normally be, will include your self-employment. While this isn’t always a problem, when you are trying to return to a more traditional employment situation, many times it is not an ideal situation.
If you hope to land a job after owning your own business, there is something you should know:
Many employers will be wary of hiring you after you’ve run your own business because they believe you won’t want to listen to or take orders from someone else. It’s a real concern and one which you’ll encounter until you get that first post- “I owned my own company” job.
So, how do you land a job after you’ve been your own boss?
First things first:
Decide what it is you want to do.
If you aren’t focused, it will be difficult to incorporate relevant skills you attained and things you learned while running your own company into your job search.
Take inventory of your expectations.
What is it you think you’re going to find in terms of openings and compensation once you land a job? Do some research on the jobs and/or industry you’re considering to avoid salary shock.
Resume tips for the former business owner.
You remember what that is, yes? Well, a resume is just as important (and time consuming to prepare) as it has ever been. Our most essential resume tips for you: Focus on skills and experience you gained while running your company, not on the fact that you ran a company. Remember, your ego is not your amigo. Most prospective employers are going to wonder whether you can answer to authority now that you are no longer “the” authority.
Contact your vendors, suppliers, clients/customers, distributors, service providers. In short, contact everyone you worked well with while you owned your company, perhaps even your competitors. Let them know what you’re up to and ask for feedback and/or assistance.
Now the hard part.
If you ask professional resume writers for their expert resume tips you will find that there are essentially two schools of thought regarding whether your resume should reflect that you were a founder, CEO or owner of your business. The first, based on the fact that an employer may be hesitant about even contacting you for an interview, is that you do not disclose that you owned the business. Those who support this strategy suggest that you state your job was General Manager, Vice-President of Operations, or some other title that shows you had a great deal of responsibility without calling attention to the fact that the company was yours. This requires, of course, some creative resume writing and definitely forces you to place the emphasis on your transferable skills rather than your overall responsibility.
Before you choose this option, think about the following: 1) It’s not completely transparent; and 2) You’ll have no reference to provide. Explaining why you have no reference for that job requires you to further the deception. If the employer discovers you’ve been dishonest, your job search (or worse yet, your job) is doomed.
An alternative is to come out with 100% complete honesty, but with a focus on the skills you offer that are transferable. Don’t try to hide anything. Just don’t emphasize it. In fact, you may wish to fully disclose your ownership in your cover letter and even mention it in your resume job description. However, in your resume be more descriptive and selective with your job title and the qualifications and accomplishments you choose to showcase. This allows you to address the following without having to be even a little bit disingenuous:
- The reasons you’re interested working in a corporate setting again (collaboration, collegiality, the ability to concentrate on what you’re good at/enjoy instead of having to continue wearing multiple hats).
- Demonstrate that rather than make it harder for you to work under supervision, having run your own company actually makes it easier. Here’s how: As a business owner, you actually had multiple bosses with different wants and needs. You are used to managing demanding clients/customers. You have also learned not to take criticism personally because “the customer was always right”.
- You increase your chances to land a job if you can convince a recruiter/prospective employer that you are a problem solver. As an owner, you developed the ability to take a global view of situations rather than a problem-specific one. You learned to distinguish between things that were merely urgent and those that were urgent and important, a skill that makes you a much more efficient and effective employee.
The bottom line: Our expert resume tips.
This final option is the one we recommend most frequently. It borrows from the best of both options while allowing you to avoid the possible cons of each.
First, keep in mind that “owner” isn’t really a job title. Or, at least it isn’t a title that has much meaning. A business owner calling herself a President, CEO, General Manager, Director of Operations, Executive Director of Operations and Business Development, or some other similarly descriptive title, is actually providing the reader of her resume with far more useful information without being dishonest. After all, most business owners, even on a business card don’t list their title as “owner.” Instead they give themselves a more descriptive and meaningful title.
Now, just because you have titled yourself on your resume as something other than “Owner” does not mean you should completely hide the fact that you owned the company.
In fact, the job description on your resume could say something like “Founded and built company from the ground up…” or “Invested in a struggling business then led restructuring and turnaround…”
The key is to just touch on the fact that you owned the company, not dwell on it. Now, when you are called in for an interview (and using this method you WILL get the interview!), you can talk honestly and openly about your entrepreneurial experience and make the persuasive case about how all this great experience will actually benefit your new employer. And in the end, that is what it is all about: selling yourself as the candidate who will deliver the greatest return on the employers’ investment in hiring you. THAT is how you will turn the job interview into a job offer!