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Should you list your experience as an entrepreneur on your resume?

A woman hands her resume to a recruiter
A woman hands her resume to a recruiter
AP photos/Charlie Riedel, File

The downturn in the economy has turned a lot of people who have lost jobs into entrepreneurs – some because a layoff forced them to figure out how to leverage useful skills into a way to make a living; others experienced it as the push they needed to launch a business they had planned to delve into at some point in the future. They figure, “Since I now have the time to focus on my business, there is no time better than the present to put in the effort to make it work.”

Some entrepreneurs have been wildly successful, while others are experiencing the same financial realities their former employer may have experienced, thus forcing the layoff. An entrepreneur then finds him or herself in the position of having to re-enter the workforce. When a former entrepreneur is seeking new employment, should he or she list entrepreneurial experience on a resume?

There are two schools of thought on this: The first is that the entrepreneur brings a wealth of skills to the table – multitasking ability, organizational skills, budgeting, marketing and public relations skills, etc. The other is that someone who has run his or her own business may not be able to take direction from others, since they are used to running the show. This person may be viewed as a threat rather than an asset. So which approach should you take when writing your resume?

Make the most of your entrepreneurial experience
A great practice is to target each submission of your resume directly to the position for which you are applying. In doing this, you can determine whether or not your entrepreneurial experience can be beneficial or detrimental to your application for that particular job. If at all possible, assign yourself a role other than ‘President/CEO’ or ‘Owner’ in order to give a more appropriate view of your responsibilities. Did your business revolve around the sale of a product? ‘Director of Sales’ might be appropriate. Did your business provide training for individuals or organizations? You might list yourself as ‘Training Specialist.’ Please remember to focus on the area of your responsibilities that allows potential employers to see you as the ideal candidate for the position you are seeking. In that case, ‘Director of Sales’ would not be appropriate if you are seeking a position in the organization’s finance department. Remember to focus as much of your experience on how you can add value to their organization in the new role, rather than clinging to old titles which may not be relevant.

For assistance with your resume or any aspect of your career transition, feel free to contact Vivian at Eternal Vision Enterprises.

If you have a specific career transition question, or if you would like to suggest a topic, please leave a comment below.

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  • marleen 5 years ago

    Great article Vivian. It is of concern to me because I also own my own business. I started it while unemployed. I tell employers about it and let them know how my skills translate to their role.

  • Matthew 5 years ago

    This article was very informative. Makes you rethink the way in which you should present yourself to a potential employer. I can see where presenting yourself as the “sprocket” that can help improve their business instead of as the “machine” that’s going to take it over would help you get called up for an interview and aid in the interview itself.

  • Viv 5 years ago

    Matthew: Excellent point! It definitely makes a difference in whether or not you are viewed as a threat or an asset.

  • Viv 5 years ago

    Marleen: Excellent strategy. Often people make the mistake of assuming that employers can readily see the transferability of their skills. Making that connection in the interview is a great way to help them see your value.

  • Vic Napier 5 years ago

    Most entrepreneurs are employees of the business they own, so they have the choice of identifying themselves as either a business owner or employee. Pick the one that makes the most sense for the situation, (although I suspect it is usually best not to mention anything not specifically asked for in the job announcement).

  • Viv 5 years ago

    Vic: You are right on target!

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