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Job search tips after your business fails

By Pauline Muindi | October 19th 2021
Entrepreneurs returning to the job market may be confused by the barrage of rejections to their job applications. [iStockphoto]

Let’s face it – sometimes a business doesn’t work out. In fact, with statistics showing that 20 per cent of businesses fail in their first year, that happens quite often. In addition, 80 per cent of small businesses fail within the first 10 years.

When the business you started has failed, your only option might be re-entering the workforce as an employee. But that is easier said than done.

A 2013 British study found that entrepreneurs who want to return to employment have a hard time getting a job. The study found that companies called salaried employees 60 per cent more than ex-entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs returning to the job market may be confused by the barrage of rejections to their job applications. Aren’t employers supposed to be looking for self-starter managers who aren’t afraid to take risks?

It appears that employers are more worried that entrepreneurs might not fit well in established organisations, where they have to report to someone else. It makes sense for employers to have some concerns when considering an ex-entrepreneur as an employee. Are you able to take orders from your boss without question?

Can you be a great team player without taking the lead? Will you be a loyal employee or will you quit to start your own business in a few months?

In light of these concerns, you should be prepared to demonstrate that you are ready for employment and that your entrepreneurship skills are an added advantage. Here are some awesome tips to help you get the right job in record time:

Find the right role

Finding the right role for your skills is the most difficult part of the process. As an entrepreneur, especially with a small business, you get to wear many different hats. You are the accountant, the head of sales and marketing, the social media manager, and the human resource manager. It might feel like you are qualified for every role or feel like no role is enough.

To find the right role for you, it helps to list down your skills – the ones that are relevant to employers. To get a good idea of which skills are attractive to employers, review job listings in your desired field. Pay close attention to keywords that crop up in most job descriptions.

Think about the tasks you enjoyed most as an entrepreneur. Did you enjoy marketing your products and closing sales? Or did you enjoy the accounting part of the business? You may want to emphasise the skills you enjoy most in your resume and during your interview.

Your entrepreneurship skills are an added advantage. [iStockphoto]

Polish your resume

The second step in getting ready to be hired is polishing up your resume. Think of your resume as a document that outlines your value proposition to a hiring manager. In many cases, your resume is what lands you the first interview. As such, you should highlight all the attractive skills, accomplishments, and attributes that make you stand out from the crowd.

Since many companies use artificial intelligence to filter job applications, be sure to use keywords in the job description. This will boost your chances of being invited for an interview with the hiring manager.

In addition, don’t forget to prepare a cover letter that you can customise for each job application. Many hiring managers read the cover letter first to get a good idea of who you are and why you are interested in the position. In your cover letter, explain the catalyst for switching from entrepreneurship to that specific job. Focus on what is drawing you to the job and the skills you bring to the table instead of why your business endeavours failed. 

Emphasise on being a team player

In your resume and interview, emphasise your desire to work as part of a team. The hiring manager wants to know that you collaborate with others even if you are not the leader. Talk about working towards a common goal with a team and achieve success. Think of stories from your experience that you can use to highlight how you can be a team player.

A 2013 British study found that entrepreneurs who want to return to employment have a hard time getting a job. [iStockphoto]

It is a good idea to downplay your role as a company owner. While entrepreneurship has given you plenty of skills and experiences that employers say they want in employees, research shows that employers are biased against ex-entrepreneurs. Put their mind at ease by minimising your role as a company founder and owner.

In fact, it is wise to avoid all labels such as founder, owner or entrepreneur altogether. Describe yourself as the company’s manager or list another significant role you played as an entrepreneur. You can even use the title of the job you’re applying for since you filled in that position in your own company.

Reach out to your network

As an entrepreneur, you have probably built a network that includes other business owners. This gives you an advantage over other job applicants. When you decide to start your job search, the network you have built can help you land the ideal job.

Reach out to your entrepreneur friends, mentors, and even clients. They can offer valuable recommendations, referrals, or constructive criticism. A mentor can refer you to your potential employer, a former client can give glowing reviews of your work, while another entrepreneur can give you leads to unadvertised job openings. Don’t be shy to let the relevant people in your network know that you are in the market for a job.

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