Self-employment to employment – where do I start?
By Sabina Trench, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers
Given the lack of job opportunities over the past number of years, many people created a job for themselves in the world of self-employment. However, for one reason or another, you are ready to be an employee again. Here’s how to get the value of your self-employment down on paper, writes SABINA TRENCH, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.
Give your self-employed time a job title like you would if you had been employed. This includes titles for farming, construction work or marketing consultant for instance. Be careful to avoid generic titles but don’t exaggerate with a title that would make Richard Branson seem like an intern.
Now, start listing all of the duties and responsibilities from your self-employment period. I recommend you start with the work that most closely relates to the jobs for which you are applying now. So, even if you did all the administration and book-keeping for the business, but are looking for a more manual role, list that first.
Sometimes it’s difficult to really appreciate the full extent of your self-employment experience, so an idea might be to show it to someone who knows your work, and can highlight gaps or glaring omissions.
Now, you will need to put a CV together that is a good reflection of your self-employment and any previous employed work experience you have. I recommend you start your CV with your personal profile section, which is a short summary of your qualifications, work experience, and career plans.
The next section should list your most important characteristics and achievements. This places the spotlight firmly on your transferable skills, regardless of employment status. Did you work on a major project, secure a big contract, or grow your business from a standing start?
If you are farming, it’s likely that you have successfully applied for grants, handled thorough department audits, or expanded your farm by renting land, for example.
I would also highlight any time you worked as part of a team or in collaboration with others. It is important to show you can work with others, especially if you were a one-person business.
Your cover letter is an ideal opportunity to explain your career to date, your decision to become self-employed, and your reason for choosing paid employment. Be as honest as you can, but ‘returning to work for a steady pay cheque’ isn’t going to resonate with a potential employer. No one can deny that self-employment can be a lonely furrow, always on call, and difficult to manage a work-life balance. These are all valid reasons for taking up a paid position.
When attending for interview, you should be ready to answer the inevitable questions about why you want to get back to employment, how you will respond to a manager’s direction, and your comfort level when working with others, for example. These are all easily answered once you are prepared. We don’t recommend learning off answers, but a few one liners here would be useful.
Self-employment The transition
While you feel ready to leave self-employment, be aware you are giving up some flexibility and independence. However, the benefits of working with others, fixed hours, and a guaranteed income may just be worth it.
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Sabina Trench is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers, who have offices in Galway, Limerick, Athlone, Sligo and Mayo, plus a full online service. Their services include CV preparation, interview training, personal statements and application forms.