A woman in glasses talks to another woman, who faces away from the camera and holds the first woman's resume.
Your past experience as a small business owner can be a major boost to your resume and help you stand out to potential employers. — Getty Images/fizkes

Looking for a new job feels stressful for most people. But when you’re a former business owner looking to re-enter the workforce, it brings a whole new level of uncertainty. These seven tips will help highlight your small business skills on your resume.

[Read more: How to Review a Candidate’s Resume]

Think carefully about your title

The resume title you choose is important because it determines whether your resume stands out to hiring managers. The right title can also help you bypass applicant tracking systems, which over 90% of companies use.

Your resume title is the first thing potential employers will see and what will incentivize them to continue reading your resume. Your title should be concise while still conveying exactly what it is you do.

Choose a title that describes the role you played within your small business and caters to the role you’re looking to step into. Of course, you don’t want to lie, but your aim should be choosing a title that aligns with your goals.

Outline your daily responsibilities

One of the challenging aspects of being a small business owner is that it can be hard for others to understand what you do every day. That’s why your resume should focus on your daily responsibilities and highlight your business accomplishments.

Odds are, you wore a lot of different hats within your business. Most small business owners play the roles of marketer, customer service representative and manager on a daily basis. So make sure you highlight these skills, explain how they benefited your business and include examples wherever possible.

Update your LinkedIn profile

It’s common for companies to conduct a social media screening of potential job candidates. So before applying for jobs, take some time to update your LinkedIn profile as well as other social media channels.

Remove anything controversial that would serve as a barrier to getting hired. Update your experience and about sections so they cater to the full-time position you’re looking to fill.

Even though you moved on, self-employment provided you with a variety of skills that will benefit you and your new employer.

Include a list of references

After being a small business owner for years, it can feel strange to think about asking for references. But there are probably many clients, customers, business partners and even employees you worked with over the years who can vouch for you.

It’s always a good idea to check with those individuals first before listing them as references and to mention the types of questions your potential employers may ask. That way, your references can respond in a way that complements the skills you outlined in your resume.

Include a cover letter

One of the challenges you may face is a potential employer wondering if you will eventually leave the company to strikeout on your own again. It's best to answer this objection from the start.

Include a cover letter with your resume that explains why you’re interested in working in a corporate setting. Explain that your small business experience makes you more of a team player and easier to manage.

You want to drive home the message that you’re looking forward to the challenge that a full-time position will bring. And you want to show potential employers how your previous skills make you perfectly suited for the new position.

Be confident about your experience

There is no way to hide the fact that you were a business owner and you shouldn’t try to. So don’t shy away from letting potential employers know that you ran your own business.

Even though you moved on, self-employment provided you with a variety of skills that will benefit you and your new employer. The fact that you’ve been a business owner means you have leadership skills and qualities that other candidates may not possess.

Be confident about the skills you’ve gained during your small business experience. Potential employers will see the energy and enthusiasm you bring to the table.

Use a template

Finally, it can be helpful to use a template to help you put your resume together. You can always modify it to fit your specific needs and circumstances, but the template will help you get started and overcome any hurdles. Sites like ZipJob, The Balance and Indeed all have self-employment resume templates that you can draw from.

[Read more: 7 Famous Entrepreneurs on Their Biggest Failures]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published October 29, 2020