Writing these posts is a lot of fun for me and I wanted to thank you for all the great and positive feedback that I have received. I’m really glad that this website makes some people laugh (and hopefully never cry) but mainly helps people demystify the interview process and makes writing a resume and cover letter a little easier.
I would like to take this time and remind you that you can ask me anything……well, ask me anything about the recruitment process, how to write a fantastic resume, how to create a jaw dropingly great cover letter, where to find the love of your life etc. I’m serious (not serious about finding the love of your life cause I can’t do everything people!) just contact me and ask away, don’t be shy just Ask Dorothy.
Here’s a great question from an avid and long time reader who has recently subscribed to my newsletter, which means he’s smart too 😉
Question: What is the best way to convey strong experience through self employment on your resume?
I thought this was a great question and a great post idea as I’m sure many people are wondering the same thing. This is how I would deal with this challenge and keep in mind I’m currently self employed and listen to my own advice.
I Don’t Play well with Others
Unfortunately being self employed has a negative connotation because it looks like working for someone else was something that you did not enjoy or prefer. So your job is to make that decision and that time in your life a very positive one.
Deciding to start your own business is a huge deal. It’s scary because you don’t know if you’re business is going to fail or be hugely successful. Hopefully you’re doing something that you’re really passionate about so taking the leap and becoming your own boss wasn’t that tough.
Not all business are successful. Some unfortunately fail but that does not mean that the years spent trying to make your business work was a failure. Also, some business’ are part time hobbies that pay the bills but times and interests change and now you want to get back to the corporate world. So how do you tackle the self employment period on your resume?
Tackling The Resume
On the employment section of your resume where you describe the time when you were self employed i.e. 2008-present, write a few sentences explaining why you decided to start your own business. You want to convey the passion, challenge and drive that you had to go on your own. You also want to state how successful this time has been for you i.e. growth in confidence, you took a risk, learned new skills and that the business has been success.
Don’t worry if the venture was not a successful one. This just means you have tons of material when answering this common three part interview question “Describe a time when something didn’t go well, why didn’t it go well and if you were able to do it all over again what would you do differently?”
In this employment section you should also stress that you had to wear many hats as a business owner i.e. multi-task expert, extremely organized, flexible working hours and can adapt to many different scenarios or challenges that arise.
A good idea is to ask customers/clients for referrals that you can use on your resume. These should be short recommendations that speak to your skills, professionalism and expertise.
These should be short because you want to include the actual referral in the employment section. I cannot stress this enough but you’re job is to make my life (the recruiter) easier. Having a great referral from a client/customer is like a smack in the face to a recruiter that says “see I AM amazing and you should hire me!”.
I’m a huge fan of using a profile instead of an objective. Most objectives are extremely boring and uncreative therefore make you look boring and uncreative.
Here are some samples of boring objective statements:
“looking to add my experience and skills to a successful company” (duh! That’s why you decided on applying for a job)
“looking for an administrative role in the healthcare industry” (wow…that’s super unique and creative. Makes me want to hire this person right away. NOT!!)
“To utilize my skills and experience as a manager and adding value by increasing team morale and decreasing turn over” (yawn…sorry what did you say I wasn’t paying attention?)
A small profile or bio should be well written and summarizes you as a successful, independent professional who is looking for a change and would be a great addition to any team environment. This profile because it is written well should not only make you sound intriguing but also makes your resume look and feel a little more interesting. Make sure you mention some of your accomplishments and quantify them if you can. This is where you want to stand out from a crowd even if you’re an introvert.
If you have been self employed for a while and you are scared that the corporate world has changed too much (don’t worry the trusted padded cubicles are still around) than I would suggest that you create a profile on LinkedIn. This site will also allow you to join groups and network, which is EXTREMELY important, especially to the self employed because as we all know networking can open doors to jobs, opportunities, clients etc.
Its a good time to remind people to make sure to have a 100% completed profile. This allows more people to view and have access to you. More people = more contacts and potential open doors.
When writing your cover letter remember to either highlight specific keywords or use bullet points. I cannot stress enough that recruiters just want to know if you have the job qualifications that they are looking for. Again, the job description is loaded with words and phrases that you should be using. Using bullet points shows that you are confident and that you clearly have valuable skills that any company would love to work with.
At the End of the Day
It all comes down to confidence. Confidence can be seen by having a great profile or brand, highlighting keywords or skills that you have that makes you a perfect candidate and describing every work experience as a positive valuable experience that has helped you grow into the expert you are today. Being self employed is definitely not negative, unless you really can’t stand working with people or enjoy punching boss’ in the face. If thats the case then I wish the next recruiter that interviews you the best of luck 😉
You may also want to check out:
The Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People
Have you check out the job board?