I've Been Working For Myself. How Do Recruiters View Periods of Self-Employment?

iStockphoto.com |  xijian

iStockphoto.com | xijian


When it comes to a recruiter or a hiring manager evaluating a resume, self-employment can be something of a mixed bag.

Perceived positive factors:

  • Entrepreneurial spirit. You like to try new things and see what you can create.
  • Self-discipline. if something needs doing, you have to do it, or it doesn’t get done and you don’t get paid.
  • Deep sense of ownership. You’ve demonstrated that you’re willing to invest yourself emotionally as well as a substantial portion of your time and personal resources to bring a concept to fruition.

Perceived negative factors:

  • An inability to fit within a structured corporate environment. Being an employee means dealing with a regular commute, standard working hours, and all the trappings of corporate life such as performance appraisals, rationed time off, and multiple layers of decision-making.
  • Issues with authority. When you are your own boss, you have the freedom to make any decisions you like in regard to how the business operates, as well as how you do your job. Not so in an established organization – your boss is your boss. Can you really get used to taking orders?
  • Difficulty handling teamwork. As a solo practitioner, you do what you believe needs to get done. Corporations and other multi-employee organizations rely heavily upon cross-functional collaboration. In other words, you spend a good deal of your time in meetings, influencing decisions and dealing with shared deliverables.

The longer you’ve been on your own, these perceived negative factors will increase in prominence in the hiring decision.

If you’ve been working for yourself and would like to jump into working for a larger organization, here’s how to manage this.

  1. Clarify your “story.” Be prepared to explain to a recruiter or a hiring manager why you’re looking to leave your business behind and move into a corporate role. Compelling stories usually involve either an interest in the camaraderie a larger team affords, or a desire to jettison the less desirable parts of the job (i.e., sales) so that you can focus on core responsibilities.
  2. Highlight teamwork. On your resume and in the interview focus on your experiences in initiatives that have required working with others to drive completion. Allay fears about your ability to interact on projects.
  3. Clearly spell out if you’ve been working either with or onsite at a major client. Even tangential experience with major clients will bolster your corporate credentials.
  4. Demonstrate a strong customer orientation. Express your dedication to going “above and beyond” in order to satisfy your customers. If you join a company, often your boss will feel like they are your customer.

Note: This article originally appeared on Quora.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.