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From Entrepreneur to Employee

Q: "After almost eight years of working for myself, I am re-entering the job market. The reasons are basic: I wish to interact with others and get a regular paycheck. I have put together a terrific resume and am applying for a whole variety of positions, but all I've gotten is rejection. Worse yet, I began this process six months ago and am still not even close to having a job.

"Are there things I'm missing? I'm an MSW with lots of direct care experience, but I am looking more for a supervisory or program management type position."

A: Unfortunately, there are several key issues you are missing in your job search:

  • One great resume will not work for a variety of positions. You need to tailor your resume for each job. This is also true of your cover letter.

  • You have a lot of direct care experience, yet you are applying for supervisory positions. When a recruiter skims through a number of resumes, she looks for specific experience. If she is filling a managerial position, she wants to see managerial background. If your resume has none, you will go immediately to the round file.

  • Your having been an entrepreneur for eight years makes employers nervous. Unless you explain to them in person why you are willing to work for someone else, they will be hard-pressed to understand why you would give up your autonomy.

  • For many years, networking has been the best way to find a new position. People want to hire individuals they know and trust. A resume doesn't begin to make the positive impact a face-to-face appointment can. If you rely on want ads, you neglect the 80-90% of available positions filled via referral.

Fortunately, by redirecting your job search efforts, you can overcome these obstacles. Instead of spending the bulk of your time answering ads, use your exceptional people skills to network with social service colleagues. Tell them you are interested in a career segue. Ask their advice on how to make the transition from entrepreneur to employee. They know where the jobs are. They enjoy being mentors. If you give them the opportunity, they will help you find a good match.

Whether you hear about a position through networking or a want ad, tailor your resume to mirror what the employer needs. Probably a hybrid resume, which focuses on activities rather than work history, will work better for you than a chronological one. Mention your specific objective at the top of the resume. Then, list each of the required job functions along with appropriate accomplishments from your paid or volunteer work experience. Put your work history in a separate section toward the bottom. Formatting your resume this way will show how your skills and experience match the position, while minimizing your entrepreneurial background.

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