Job-hunting can be stressful and overwhelming for any jobseeker, no matter their circumstances, but it can feel especially confusing for former entrepreneurs. If you’ve gotten used to owning and operating your own enterprise, you may have difficulty imagining or remembering what it’s like to be on the candidate’s side of the interviewing table. If you had to close down your business due to difficult personal or professional circumstances, you may still be nursing some disappointments that can make it difficult to see the way forward.
Allow Yourself Time to Process Your Experiences
Regardless of your reasons for seeking employment, allowing yourself to mourn the loss of your business is a crucial first step to a successful new career. An important stage in your professional life has just ended, and you’ve had to set aside an endeavor you’ve worked hard for. Such experiences are painful, regardless of the circumstances that cause them, so give yourself time to sit with any emotions you might be feeling about your situation. It may also help you to remember that all experiences, even seeming failures, are valuable for what they can teach you about yourself and your goals.
Another important thing to bear in mind is that a positive attitude makes all the difference during a job search. After all, you’ll need to communicate to prospective employers that you don’t only have the qualifications and skills they need, but also that you’re excited and enthusiastic about entering a new phase in your professional life. Projecting that confidence will be hard to do if you’re still holding on to some grief.
Determine What Kind of Work You’d Like to Do
Business owners, particularly those who only work with small teams, tend to wear many hats at work. Your day-to-day routine as an entrepreneur may have consisted of a hodgepodge of different tasks, from creating marketing materials to resolving customer service concerns to communicating with suppliers, and many more. Once you assume a new position at another company, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll have to play multiple roles at once to such an extreme extent.
Thus, before you begin your job search, it might be helpful to make a list of jobs you want to do—and maybe also jobs you don’t want to do. Beyond listing desirable roles within a company, you may also want to imagine what the businesses and even the industries you see yourself working in look like. This will help you focus your job search and prevent you from wasting time on job applications for positions that aren’t good fits for you.
Identify Skills That Would Make You a Good Employee
Most employers going over your job application will be less interested in the fact that you were once a business owner and more in the hard and soft skills you can potentially contribute to their company. Hard skills are technical skills rooted in a particular industry, like graphic design, coding, accounting, and the like. Soft skills, meanwhile, are less industry-specific and may include interpersonal communication and project management.
One good trick is to customize your cover letter and resume for every position you apply for. That way, you can highlight skills and qualifications that closely match what the position’s job description asks for. It’s always good to demonstrate that you know how to take direction while also being confident enough to lead a team. If you’re proficient at delivering on projects, meeting business goals, and forming strong work connections, these skills will be welcome at almost any workplace.
Conduct Mock Interviews
If it’s been a while since your last job interview, you’ll definitely want to practice before you start meeting with hiring managers. Asking a friend to do a mock interview with you will help you re-familiarize yourself with how job interviews feel. A mock interview will also give you a chance to consider your answers to common questions in a more relaxed, low-stakes context.
Before your mock interview, try searching online for a list of the most common questions that hiring managers tend to ask, then identify the ones that scare you the most. Often, these especially scary questions will be open-ended, such as when you’re asked to tell the interviewer about yourself or describe where you see yourself professionally in a few years. Thinking about these questions before you have to answer them for real may show you how to use them to your advantage.
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that giving up entrepreneurship to work as an employee doesn’t mean you’ve failed or lost your way in life. If you approach this new adventure with excitement and an open mind, good career opportunities are sure to come your way sooner rather than later.