Job search after self-employment?

Hi all! Does anyone have experience or advice on getting back into regular employment after owning a business?

I am closing my brick and mortar shop (intimate apparel) and am now seeking employment in merchandising or distribution. I thought my experience of starting and running my own business for two years would make me an attractive candidate but it seems to be doing the opposite! Despite my honest desire to be part of a larger organization, I have had feedback that I am considered a flight risk. I am making this switch in order to pursue my goals of location independent living (remote work), and given the pandemic it was not prudent to renew the store lease, which ends this month.

Is anyone aware of any companies that value (legitimate) entrepreneurship experience? Has anyone else made the transition back to regular employment after being self-employed? I’d love to hear any advice or thoughts.

3 Likes

The hard part with your situation is that most recruiters won’t know what to do with you. You may need to have a few different versions of your resume, each that cater to a different function of owning your business.

4 Likes

Yes, that is part of my worry! My background is heavy in buying and allocation (my core competencies) and I have been tailoring my resume to focus on those facets of the business. Nevertheless you are right that I do have a broad range of skills now which could be confusing to HR departments. I have been hoping to find a recruiter to work with but that has been surprisingly challenging. Though, I suppose it isn’t too much of a surprise given the widespread layoffs.

2 Likes

I had a similar issue. Worked in RTW junior sportswear for 4 years, then started a business in a niche market. With all the experience I had (branding, marketing, designing, production, etc etc), I was promoted by headhunters as Design Director, but no larger companies bought into it. The closest thing I had to an offer was as a Sample Room Coordinator (the kind you get straight out of college) and the wage was much too low for the hours they wanted. The only way I was (finally) able to get a ‘job’ was to start working for a company on a project basis, then was able to prove myself and ‘created’ a full time job for myself, with them. I wish I had better advice. Good luck!

6 Likes

I don’t see a way forward. Even with experience as a buyer, design director, product development manager, and merchandising director on both the retail & wholesale sides, I can’t get interviews. This week a company posted 3 jobs, 2 of which I had experience in. I contacted the internal job poster expressing my interest & asking for her e-mail to send my resume. I forwarded the 3rd job to an under-30 friend. I never heard back. My friend has an interview today. It has become so demoralizing that I don’t feel that I can stay in the industry. Next week I am purchasing study materials to obtain certification in an entirely different industry. This has been emotionally draining & financially devastating. Although I am truly sorry that so many others are experiencing this, it does offer some comfort that I am not alone. I have felt like a failure, even though logically I know it is due to circumstances beyond my control. I hope that everyone finds the right individual path.

6 Likes

Thanks for sharing your experience, it is nice to know I am not alone in this bizarre situation! How did you manage to get work on individual projects? I imagine it is a kind of freelancing?

Yes it is so strange to not even hear back! I am blown away by how hard this has been. And I am under 30! Don’t give up, things are bound to turn around eventually. People have to wear clothes.

Constantly searching for “jobs” on craigslist. This was in the early 2000s, so I’m sure there are better ways to look, now. Also, for your situation, job boards may help. Mostly, it was outside-the-box approaches to businesses, that enabled me to get around the usual roadblocks. In my situation, I ultimately had to stick with my clothing brand. What may be an easier and more rewarding path forward is to move your retail business online. With all the sales and marketing platforms out there these days, and your experience, this might be a viable path for you, as well.

2 Likes

Possibility to look outside of NYC for new opportunities.

1 Like

The big deal in searching for a job after you have been self-employed is having versions of your resume that young recruiters will understand. Young recruiters typically don’t have the experience to extrapolate entrepreneurial experience and apply it to their open positions. Resumes should be tailored to the position to which you are applying to alleviate this.

3 Likes

i have a similar situation. under my business (which was not apparel or accessories related) i utilized a title for my experiences: Applicable Merchant Experience and detailed what I did in relation to my past retail career in buying and planning. Ive been getting interviews, so its working somewhat.

3 Likes

I’ve tried all that and trust me none of that works. Best case is dumb your resume down as far as you can to get an entry level job where then maybe you can prove yourself and get up that ladder. People in this industry don’t value experience they value dollars more. It’s clearly ageism but no one talks about it. On top of that if you’re a person of color you can add that on top of it all.
Three things that’ll stop you moving forward: if you’ve ever been self employed, if you’re a person of color, or you’re over 25.

So sorry to hear this - I’m just seeing this post and I hope your updated news comes with some light? Or at least clearer vision in sight on what makes sense for you ahead. I will say that reaching out to experienced agencies and recruiters will be really helpful. Who are they? How do you find them? ** here’s a trick: Find jobs from companies that read well and appealing for your industry, etc. and the person or agency leading this search is your first step to contact! “Hi, I saw your post for Senior Designer and while I come from XYZ… I’d love to chat if you have a minute about my background and how I might support you/X agency with current or future openings? If time is limited, email is great and I’ve attached my CV here for you. Thank you…”
It’s modern day cold calling really and a chance for you to introduce yourself to viable sources working with companies who are hiring. Also don’t forget to tag them on LinkedIn as well with a quick note. Good luck!

2 Likes