From Self-Employed to Employed


Dear, Anita,

I’ve been self employed since 1970 but have also held full time positions with other companies at various times, too. From about 1990 to 2007 I experienced so much business that I worked (at home) an average of 12 hours/day, seven days a week. It all came to an abrupt halt when the recession hit. I’m now looking for jobs doing just about anything, but no luck.

I feel my age is working against me but also my many years of experience. I’ve had interviews where the interviewer probably feared I was more qualified than himself. With a resume that shows so many years of self employment I think most employers think I’ll either leave when business picks up or I’ll steal their ideas or their clients. Any advice for switching from self employment to working for other companies?

Dear, Fearful Free Agent,

Entrepreneur PaycheckWith the economic downturn, many entrepreneurs decided (or had the decision made for them) to return to a conventional J.O.B.  Let’s review some of the upsides to “working for the man.” People in your situation can relinquish the financial worries (though the new position may bring apprehensions of its own). There will be a sense of stability that may have been lacking in your recent economic landscape.  Also, being part of a team can be refreshing. Working solo, you sometimes miss people to bounce ideas off of or just to share what you did over the weekend.

That’s not to say the transition will be easy. You may give up the flexibility of setting your own hours for a 9-to-5 schedule. But that means no more burning the midnight oil! And the daily grind may come with benefits like affordable health insurance.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, you need to leap over the hurdles to land that position. An employer may have a bias based on age, but if you craft your résumé wisely, you should be able to secure an interview. For tips, check out my post Getting Hired (or not) Based on Age.

While you could be overqualified in your previous area of expertise, you may need to upgrade or learn new skills to broaden your marketability.  Working by yourself, you may not have needed Outlook or other standard office fare. Check out local colleges and universities or Google “job training” to find resources in your local area to shore up your skill set.

When you were self-employed, you were actually both the boss and the employee, so you know a thing or two about wearing many hats and getting the job done. But be sure to nibble on some humble pie. While you don’t want to be modest about your experience and accomplishments during a job interview, your potential employer will be looking for clues that you won’t go rogue. Practice a response to the inevitable question, “Why do you want to work for someone else again?”  Check out my past article, How to Overcome “Overqualified,” for some interview role-playing assistance.

Keep your spirits up during your job search. To help, here’s a humorous music video, “Self Employment Made Harder By Difficult Boss”:

Readers: Have you successfully gone from entrepreneur to company man (or woman)? What was the most difficult part of the transition? What do you like most about having a traditional job?

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

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Rapid Resignation


Hi, Anita. I’ve been reading your blog for a long time, and many of your tips helped me to land a job about a month ago. I was so thankful to finally get a job, but as it turns out, I’m not really happy there. I’m not fulfilled by what I’m doing and want to get out before I get entrenched. I also want my boss to be able to go back to the other candidates she interviewed before they accept other jobs. Is it okay to email my boss this weekend and let her know I won’t be coming back on Monday?

quit

Dear, Rapid Resigner,

No! It’s never okay to email your boss your resignation, no matter how good your intentions. Not only is it disrespectful and unprofessional, but you are putting your boss in the really bad position of finding herself an employee down without having any notice to create a transition plan. Finally, it’s hard on the team you leave behind because they will have to pick up the slack you just dumped in their laps.

If you are unhappy in your current position, you have every right to make a change. Just be careful in the way you go about it. First of all, if you feel you can talk to your boss about what is making you unhappy, do so. Make sure you’re clear about specific grievances, and give your boss a chance to understand what you would like to see happen going forward. She doesn’t have to change anything, in which case you are justified in your resignation, and she won’t be surprised. However, you may be surprised yourself! If she respects the work you’ve been doing and wants to keep you on the team, she may be able to adjust some things so you feel better about them.

If you don’t feel like you can talk to your boss about your issues, or if you simply don’t want to go through the hassle of trying to work through them with her, at least give her the courtesy of 1-2 weeks’ notice before your last day. That way, she can transition you out and find a replacement for the position. By not giving proper notice, you are truly burning a bridge that may come back to haunt you later on. After all, it’s a small world; you never know what future employer may know your boss and ask her about you. Read more about professional resignations in my post “Building, Not Burning, Bridges.”

I know things may seem bad at your new job, and you may not think you can take it a second longer. In that case, if you really feel you need to give less than two weeks’ notice, you still need to approach your boss in person and let her know when your last day will be. Most bosses will understand that it’s not a good fit (as a matter of fact, dollars to doughnuts, they had realized the same thing already) and wish you well – so long as you don’t let YOUR door hit THEM in the behind on your way out.

Thanks for being such a loyal reader, Rapid. I hope you’ll take this piece of advice to heart as well.

Anita

Readers – have you ever known of anyone who simply emailed in their resignation and gave their boss no notice? What was the fallout – on both the manager’s and former employee’s sides?

Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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