Author Topic: Going back to work after being "self employed"  (Read 2406 times)


  • Stubble
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Going back to work after being "self employed"
« on: October 11, 2017, 05:46:28 PM »
I have been out of Engineering for nearly 2 years.  The first year I was learning Welding from my father and became one of the joint owners of my parent's welding business (which didn't earn much) and the second year I renovated a house for my wife.

What I literally did was quit my job, sell a house, move, learn to weld flat (did not take test), Traveled to Michigan for metal fabrication jobs (twice), move again, figured out how to purchase a house using a hard money loan, started a home renovations business, purchased a house, renovated it, and moved in.  Through all of this though, I really only get to list joint owner of Welding business and Joint owner of home renovation business as jobs.

I am trying to figure out how to put this on a resume and a cover letter or CV.  I'm not too worried about an interview, but am very worried about people reading my resume and assuming I was just unemployed.  I'm less concerned with the home renovations part since it was definitely a project management thing, but the welding part is definitely not easy to explain for a mechanical engineer.

Should I list "Welding business name ------ Co-Owner" and "Home removations business name -------- President/Manager/Owner  or something" and just talk to them like they are typical jobs.  Should I leave a gap and explain if I get an interview?  How is stuff like this on a resume looked upon?


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Going back to work after being "self employed"
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2017, 07:12:50 PM »
My dad is n engineer and hires engineers.

He says it isn't a red flag if someone had one period of "owning their own consulting business" aka being unemployed, he only worries if their resume is peppered with multiple stretches of unemployment. Fwiw.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Going back to work after being "self employed"
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2017, 06:14:14 AM »
If you're just out of engineering, I don't think "learning welding in my father's company" is actually that bad. You learned something. You come from a family of engineers/builders. Saying you co-owned the business sounds like polishing, so you might want to just be straight. If you're not applying for management functions it may actually be better to tell you worked for your father and did a freelance renovation job, than trying to sound like an entrepreneur.

Figure out what work your future employer wants done, and write what work you did accordingly regardless of job title.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Going back to work after being "self employed"
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2017, 10:46:24 AM »
List it honestly - and note what skills you learned/used in the process.  It's not that big a deal on a resume.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Going back to work after being "self employed"
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2017, 09:09:41 PM »
Fwiw, I am acquainted with a telecom engineer whose spare time activity involved turning lathes.  His career involved several transitions.  IIRC he started a couple of businesses using ideas he thought of while working with his hands.  Not sure what his resume looks like now that he did retire, but good luck. 


  • Stubble
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Re: Going back to work after being "self employed"
« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2017, 06:24:14 AM »
Congrats on your two years of escaping the regular working world!

In general, I don't hide my periods of non-work adventures. I have a skills based resume, and former employer section is a short relevant listing at the end. I only list the calendar years of service at those employers, and leave it to the reader to round down or up as they see fit.

First, your former coworkers will be your best source of opportunity. Unfortunately, it sounds as if you have moved far from your previous employer. This may make things a bit more difficult.

You don't mention the type of engineering nor do you mention the target company size.

If you are in a computer or "tech" related area of engineering, the market can be tight and you will find plenty of recruiters looking for engineers re-entering the workforce. You won't be working on the hottest technologies, but you also won't be on the projects with the craziest schedules.

Large company with excellent benefits have the luxury of "requiring" candidates with a "solid" work history (reliable wage slaves). You will want to target medium and small employers who have a more difficult time acquiring talent, and are open to hiring less than "perfect" candidates.

I don't consider myself pliable enough to be a "perfect candidate" for corporate America, and I have worked with some other amazing "guys" who have quirks that would keep the out of corporate America, but who have the most amazing design skills and insight. Watch out for "quirks" that include teams dominated by one person with a huge ego or environments that have the reputation of being toxic.

The current unemployment rate in your area will impact your success. Colorado is currently below 1% unemployment in technical fields, and smaller employers are forced to look at those re-entering the workforce.

Finally, have a compelling story about your recent two year gap. The story doesn't have to be career centric, but rather focus on the adventure and heart of it. "I always wanted to work with my Dad" pulls at the heart strings and says you have a strong family connection. Own your story, and be proud you chose to adventure off the given career path.

Many of technical interviews have been derailed when the wage slaves figure out I have left the plantation for 2-3 years at a time. Fellow engineers will want to know your Escape Plan...


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Going back to work after being "self employed"
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2017, 10:34:33 AM »
Helped my Father turn around his welding business (also learned welding)
 Managed a home renovation business, might be close enough to the truth.
If your trying to avoid the "self employed" words.