Canada has a significantly high ratio of entrepreneurs – people who have, for whatever reason, decided to build and manage their own business. However, just like in the corporate world, businesses can fail, due to mismanagement or external influences and downturns in the economy.
If you’re seeking employment after a failed business attempt, you may have no idea how to portray this in your resume. I have written numerous resumes for people who have been in this situation. I encourage them to think of the positive, not the negative, and portray their situation succinctly and honestly.
The fact that your business failed does not take away your assets as an employee. There were probably many factors at work. Perhaps you were unable to attract funding. Perhaps the product or service offering wasn’t attractive to the consumers you were targeting. Or perhaps you were in a price-sensitive, competitive niche market where few survive.
In your resume, be honest about the reasons your business floundered. Be clear about your commitment to return to corporate life. Then use STAR stories (Situation, Task, Action, Results) to share your business’s positive successes (of course there were some!), the lessons learned, and the soft and hard skills utilized. These skills will often be over and above what you would have gained in a corporate role during that same time.
Think carefully about the position title you show. I tend to portray a business owner of an entrepreneurial enterprise as Principal, not President or CEO, as these titles tend to throw a resume reader off. An exception would be the leader of a highly successful firm or corporation with many employees.
It’s true that some executive recruiters may not be interested in someone transitioning from the entrepreneurial world to the corporate world. It’s not that they’re biased; their clients at the other end may clearly specify that candidates must be currently holding a corporate position. But don’t automatically exclude executive recruiters either.
North America is generally very forgiving of business leaders who initially work in the corporate world, take a stint in the entrepreneurial/consulting world, and then return to a corporate life.
If you do face any skepticism as to why you took an entrepreneurial path, your honesty and positivity will gain you many points with hiring decision makers.