Monday, September 28, 2009

Extreme Career Change: Self-Employment to Employment

Many small business owners face difficult times when the economy heads south. In hopes of regaining financial security, some look for employment that provides regular paychecks. The self-employment-to-employment career change is sometimes difficult, not only because jobs are scarce, but because it's not easy to have a boss once you've been top dog.

Here are five tips for making a smooth transition from self-employment to employment.

  1. Seek a position where you can either work independently (for example, as an outside sales rep), or where you can be a leader (for example, project manager).

  2. Privately, give yourself a timeline for working at your new job (for example, two years), with the understanding that during that time, you'll give 100 percent of your professional energy to your employer. Your commitment (even if you don't tell your employer about your timeline) will help you be an earnest employee, knowing you haven't committed to be at that job forever. Meanwhile, the timeline will hold open the possibility of going back into business for yourself, should you decide you want to in the future.

  3. Stay in touch with your former business network if possible, being careful not to cross any ethical lines with your new employer (for example, don't take on clients for your new employer with the expectation of taking them with you, should you decide to go back to self-employment).

  4. If you're closing your small business and looking for employment, ask one of your former customers if she would serve as a reference to your potential employer.

  5. On the resume for your new role as an employee, avoid referring to yourself as owner of your former company. Use a job title such as General Manager or President – something that demonstrates your skills without saying, "I'm going to be hard to manage because I like being the captain of any ship I'm on."

Financial security is hard to find in this economy. If making a career change from self-employment to employment is what you need to do, check out these posts on handling self-employment in the work history section of your resume:

From Self-Employment to Employment
Listing Self-Employment on Resume


Ronnie Ann said...

Nice tips, Susan. This can be a really tough direction to go for many of us. I'm working with someone now who is thinking about going back to work for someone else after many years of being the top dog. Good reminder in your article about not frightening away potential interviews who may see you as someone "hard to manage because I like being the captain of any ship I'm on."

An especially good time, I think, to get some personal resume and cover letter help - if a person can afford it of course.

Thanks for a caring post, as always.

Jason said...

These are in fact excellent tips for those making this transition. We have had quite a few clients who have dealing with this exact transition. Thanks for sharing.

doug said...

For a person that has been self-employed to return to the employed ranks can be extremely difficult. I believe this is because the confidence level and self-esteem have been severely damaged. Most people that have owned their own business cannot wait for the economy to turn so they can get back to running a business. If a person has a strong network of family and friends, they may want to consider insurance. Most if not all insurance companies are open for business.