Beginning the Job Search After Years of Being Self-Employed — 3 Tips to Get You On the Right Track

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Ivy Exec
Ivy Exec
If you’ve been self-employed for a decade or more, there are many reasons you might look for a job at a company. Perhaps your business has been up-and-down for years, and you’re ready to find something more consistent. Or maybe you find self-employment lonely, and you want to connect with colleagues more regularly.
Though self-employment offers you degrees of freedom and flexibility you won’t have in more conventional employment, you also have stability and consistency at a company that you often don’t when you’re self-employed.
“While there are a number of benefits that come from being an entrepreneur, these same benefits can become challenging for some. For example, the freedom of self-employment may hinder a person who works better with a strict schedule to follow. Or, the autonomy of being self-employed may also mean that there is no longer other people to get a second opinion from,” says Indeed.
But self-employed folks – especially those who haven’t worked for someone else for many years – may worry that they’re not hirable. But this certainly isn’t the case. Building a case for how your self-employment would benefit the company is the best way to make yourself an attractive candidate for full-time employment. 
Here, we’ll offer our best tips for how to find a job after self-employment.

1. Identify what you want to do in the workforce.

For some, one of the most exciting parts about being an entrepreneur is getting to manage many aspects of your business, from the financials to the brand identity. But this can also be one of the biggest struggles, too – you may find that you don’t have time to focus on the work that matters most to you.
So, the first step to finding a job after self-employment is deciding what you want to do next. As you transition away from self-employment, consider what aspects of your self-employment you liked best. Then, you can focus on searching for the positions that would give you the chance to do the work that interests you most.
What’s more, you’ll likely be better off pitching yourself as a specialist, not a generalist, when applying and interviewing for jobs. 
“You’re expected to wear one or two hats instead of 12—but you need to know which hats they are… While it may seem like doing more is a good idea, you could actually end up stepping on someone else’s toes and diverting energy from where your boss wants you to focus,” said Amanda Augustine of TopResume.

2. Share examples of your work and seek endorsements from your clients and partners.

When you’re starting to employ full-time roles and connecting with headhunters and recruiters, you want to have testimonials from your clients that you can share. For instance, if you’re in a creative profession, you can create an online profile that shares examples of what you created, then case studies or testimonials about the impact that work had on your clients.
“Focus on informative and current professional experiences. Use careers platforms such as Experteer that are used by companies and headhunters and make sure that there is no ambiguous information found about you on the internet,” said
If you don’t have many (or any) colleagues who can serve as references for the positions to which you want to apply, then your online profile with client recommendations can be an effective supplement to share, as well.

3. Create a resume that highlights your self-employed work history.

Even if you had a business, or several businesses, which were not successful in the long-term, you still could impress employers with your skills and experience. Specifically, entrepreneurs have abilities that employers want – and they understand that failed businesses are not always run by incompetent leaders.
Still, the question remains about what to highlight on your resume?
The rule of thumb is to treat your self-employment the same way you would full-time employment. If you operated a business, for instance, write your company’s name, your role there, and how long you operated the business.
If you operated more than one business, then include more than one entry.
If you worked as a contractor or freelancer, then you can summarize the work you did in a field in one entry, using a similar format as above. If you worked in more than one industry or in multiple unrelated positions, then you can have more than one listing on your resume.
As you think about what tasks and successes you can list in your self-employment work history, focus on the types of positions you’re trying to land. For instance, if you’re seeking work as a bookkeeper, highlight that experience rather than your experience, say, managing people.
“Operating your own business often means taking on many different roles and learning new skills to keep your business running. These skills may even give you access to new job opportunities within the corporate workforce,” Indeed suggested.

Ways to Find a Job After Self-Employment

There are pros and cons to self-employment, just like there are to working at a 9-to-5 job. Remember to give yourself time to grieve the end of your own business as you transition into more conventional employment.
At the same time, don’t think that your self-employed job was all for nothing – that’s simply not true! Running your own business has equipped you with useful skills, habits, and capabilities that will make you successful in whatever career move you decide to make next.
“[B]eing an entrepreneur likely gave you a broader view of your work and great ideas to improve systems and operations…Don’t be afraid to contribute those ideas and insights,” said Marc Miller, founder of CareerPivot.
This article originally appeared on Ivy Exec

What’s your no. 1 piece of advice for those transitioning back to a traditional role from self-employment? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!