Author Topic: Any advice for getting hired on after you've been a small business owner?  (Read 5094 times)

lcg377

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 80
  • Location: United States
I am in the process of closing out a small retail shop, and applying for a new job.  The feedback I'm getting is that people aren't even reading my cover letter details (which spells out that "the business is ending and I want to get back to X field") when they see 'Co-owner' of the business on my resume. 

I've started referring to myself as the manager of the business in my most recent round of applications, per some advice I saw in online articles.  Does anybody have some tips for me to use to get back to the happy land of regular paychecks? :)

ender

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4734
What industry are you trying to get into?

What else are you telling them?

dragoncar

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8523
  • Registered member
That sucks.. Business owner always seemed like a good resume backup plan

Weedy Acres

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 278
Short answer: dumb down your resume.

I can suggest more specifics if you can share what kind of jobs you're applying for.

Beric01

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1156
  • Age: 29
  • Location: SF Bay Area
  • Law-abiding cyclist
That sucks.. Business owner always seemed like a good resume backup plan

Not a business owner, but I'm guessing that just the act of owning a business isn't particularly notable. Anyone can plunk down money and "own" a business. It's the skills that you learned and applied while running that business that are important. Those are the skills I would emphasize on a resume/cover letter and in an interview.

dragoncar

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8523
  • Registered member
That sucks.. Business owner always seemed like a good resume backup plan

Not a business owner, but I'm guessing that just the act of owning a business isn't particularly notable. Anyone can plunk down money and "own" a business. It's the skills that you learned and applied while running that business that are important. Those are the skills I would emphasize on a resume/cover letter and in an interview.

You mean my partial stake in the 500 largest companies in the US doesn't make me instantly employable???

Beric01

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1156
  • Age: 29
  • Location: SF Bay Area
  • Law-abiding cyclist
That sucks.. Business owner always seemed like a good resume backup plan

Not a business owner, but I'm guessing that just the act of owning a business isn't particularly notable. Anyone can plunk down money and "own" a business. It's the skills that you learned and applied while running that business that are important. Those are the skills I would emphasize on a resume/cover letter and in an interview.

You mean my partial stake in the 500 largest companies in the US doesn't make me instantly employable???

I have a stake in over 3000 companies thanks to Vanguard TSM, so I must be qualified to be CEO of some Fortune 500 company, surely.

BlueHouse

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2985
  • Location: WDC
I am in the process of closing out a small retail shop, and applying for a new job.  The feedback I'm getting is that people aren't even reading my cover letter details (which spells out that "the business is ending and I want to get back to X field") when they see 'Co-owner' of the business on my resume. 

I've started referring to myself as the manager of the business in my most recent round of applications, per some advice I saw in online articles.  Does anybody have some tips for me to use to get back to the happy land of regular paychecks? :)
I am president of my own small consulting firm and I don't call myself President or CEO or any highfalutin' titles.  In my experience and in my industry, anyone without a job calls themselves President of their own company.  I usually refer to myself Senior Consultant.   After all, if someone else was willing to hire me and make me "senior" to someone else, then I must be good.  Only when someone asks specifics do I reveal that I am the sole owner of the company.  And sometimes they realize that the name of the company is my name too (but not all that often).

malacca

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 218
  • Location: Malaysia!!!
I agree with BlueHouse.

I have hired nearly 1000 people. I would never hire someone who "owned" their own business if it was in the same industry.


lcg377

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 80
  • Location: United States
Thanks everyone, for the input so far.  I'll try to keep it short: My background has been in science and education. When teaching jobs were getting slashed, I started to look for a new field. My side gig has been working at a doggie daycare/boarding place for years. Two years ago, a colleague was selling her small, pet retail shop less than a mile(walking commute!) from my house.  I talked with a SCORE mentor, an accountant and a lawyer, and my husband and I decided to take over her lease (but did not purchase the business, b/c she had another location in a neighboring city.) Short story: she's being investigated by the IRS for all kinds of financial irregularities at that other location, and all the paperwork she gave us from her accounting firm was falsified. Which was what we used to build our business plan.

So I was putting "Co-owner" or "Owner/operator" because it's a small shop and I am the only person staffing it.  On my resume, I list all my associated customer service and business skills for that heading.  Now I've just started putting "Manager" to see if that goes over any better.  I've been applying for jobs like "education coordinator" at various museums, nonprofits, etc, as I have over 5 years of teaching experience.  I live near a number of small colleges, so I've also applied for jobs in financial aid and development offices, assuming that customer service and bookkeeping would be assets for an entry level role there. 

I'm going to send my information to the career counselor at my grad school, and see what she recommends too.  Since there are so many entrepreneurs here, I know I can't be the first person to have to overcome this! :)

mozar

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2908
I found that mentioning my business at all was bad because employers assumed that entrepreneurs probably won't last long at a regular company because they want to "be the boss."

But you were never the owner since you didn't buy the business.
Did you increase sales for the business? That's what employers like to see on resume's. Put the actual numbers it increased by.
If I were you I would hire someone real quick, even if it's just for a month, so you can say you had supervisory experience.
And instead of just listing all your experience, the resume has to be extremely tailored to the job listing.

But if things have been going well for years, why not open your own doggy care and keep your loyal clients?

soccerluvof4

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5007
  • Location: Artic Midwest
  • Retired at 50
    • My Journal
I just went through the same thing earlier this year.  Like you, the first thing I found out was to never put owner/CEO/president titles on a resume.  Operations Manager was the title I used.

Ultimately I got an IT job at my local university (same university I graduated from with my CIT degree).  My resume was finely tuned to the position.  All the experience I listed revolved around the technical tasks I handled in my business.  They needed to know I built the booking system, what programming languages I used, what operating systems I knew, etc.  They didn't need to know I also negotiated wholesale contracts, did the bookkeeping, etc. since it was irrelevant to the job position.  I also matched some of the wording in my resume to what they listed in their job description (where appropriate).  The HR department will either have software to scan resumes for keywords or a human will be skimming through a large stack of resumes.  To help your resume stand out, match it up to each job position as closely as your experience will allow.

Best of luck to you in your job hunt!





How did you or others put a person to call for Employment Verification.  There are times where I think I might want to go PT and do something completely new outside my business that I own in which my wife runs and works there 25 hours a week BUT I will never work there again and shes the reason were keeping it open (burnout). But we have 8 employees still and Not sure away around it when I have owned for 23 years this November

BlueHouse

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2985
  • Location: WDC
Thanks everyone, for the input so far.  I'll try to keep it short: My background has been in science and education. When teaching jobs were getting slashed, I started to look for a new field. My side gig has been working at a doggie daycare/boarding place for years. Two years ago, a colleague was selling her small, pet retail shop less than a mile(walking commute!) from my house.  I talked with a SCORE mentor, an accountant and a lawyer, and my husband and I decided to take over her lease (but did not purchase the business, b/c she had another location in a neighboring city.) Short story: she's being investigated by the IRS for all kinds of financial irregularities at that other location, and all the paperwork she gave us from her accounting firm was falsified. Which was what we used to build our business plan.

So I was putting "Co-owner" or "Owner/operator" because it's a small shop and I am the only person staffing it.  On my resume, I list all my associated customer service and business skills for that heading.  Now I've just started putting "Manager" to see if that goes over any better.  I've been applying for jobs like "education coordinator" at various museums, nonprofits, etc, as I have over 5 years of teaching experience.  I live near a number of small colleges, so I've also applied for jobs in financial aid and development offices, assuming that customer service and bookkeeping would be assets for an entry level role there. 


You might also consider changing approaches altogether.  I went through a series of job changes (dot com bust changed my career path significantly) and finally just took some time off.  When I returned to work, I had a long string of loser jobs, and then a big employment gap, during which time I traveled, volunteered, and then helped a family member recover from surgery before returning to work.  For my interviews, I explained that I had had high-stress jobs and bad luck led to a series of them going out of business.  I explained time off and added that I acted as a caretaker for a family member for part of that time.  more than one person assumed that I was a full-time caretaker for an extended period, when in actuality it was closer to one month.  i didn't correct them when they thought it was so noble of me to sacrifice my working career for a loved one.  It also explained why I would accept a job that I was clearly overqualified for:  The high stress wore me down and now I was looking for something where I could continue to help out at home while easing my way back into the workforce. 

Staying there 1.5 years got me experience in a different industry. When combined with my previous high-level experience in IT, it started a new career trajectory for me which has worked out beyond my expectations.  After that first job, I never had to explain the gap again.  Even though there are some pieces in there that I think are relevant, they turned out to not be relevant to employers -- and that's what you have to filter out.  Don't try to make yourself feel better by explaining that you were productive during those years.  If the potential employer sees no value in it, accept that and concentrate on the things you bring to the table to help with THIS job. 

Just my opinion, but it only matters to get that FIRST job back.  After that, everything is cake.  Good luck!

Weedy Acres

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 278
I'd keep 2 resumes, and tailor every resume to the specific job you're applying for, as knaak described.  Resume #1 highlights your teaching background, says you managed a pet store, and your cover letter says during the downturn you turned a side gig into a full time gig, but now you really miss teaching, so you want to get back to it.  Resume #2 plays up the business experience in customer service and bookkeeping (or whatever best matches the job description).  And that cover letter describes how you went from teaching to business, and now you want to apply your business skills in an academic environment.

Connect the dots for them, tell the story, and show how what you have done until now makes their job the perfect fit for you right now.

ShortInSeattle

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 576
Try this in the interview: "Owning a business was a great learning experience. I learned how to X and Y, which I am grateful for.  Eventually, I realized that the aspects of business that I am best at are A and B. That is why I decided to close the business and apply for your position. I'm really excited about being part of a team and focusing on Z."



lcg377

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 80
  • Location: United States
Thanks! I can see things coming together in a new way.  My resume has been more of a chronology layout, so I will change it to one that is more skills-based.  That way, I can see how to make the changes better that will match job descriptions best AND can leave out any "incriminating" details about being in charge.  My cover letters have been very tailored so far, but I wasn't changing as much about my resume each time.

Your comments have been so helpful!