From Entrepreneur to Executive- How does the hirer get hired?
For many entrepreneurs, the decision to transition from employee to boss/business owner was simple. During the years spent working for someone else, many executives discovered ways they could “do it better” if only they were the ones in charge. Many professionals are willing to take the risk and leave the comfort and security of working for someone else to strike out on their own.
For some, though, the freedom to make decisions and implement ideas is liberating, yet the everyday tasks associated with running a business, from payroll to facilities, often casts a shadow over the entrepreneurial spirit that drove them to strike out on their own in the first place. Many leaders find themselves spending little to no time doing what they enjoy most- developing and implementing innovative ideas. In some cases, the benefits of running a business outweigh the frustrations, allowing the entrepreneur to spend many years running her business with full engagement. For others, the negatives slowly but surely dilute the owner’s engagement, eventually leading to a sale. In either case, many entrepreneurs eventually find themselves facing a second transition, after selling their business: from entrepreneur back to executive.
5 Tips for Entrepreneurs transitioning back to an Executive Role
1. Do not underestimate your ability to adapt and wear multiple hats. Few professionals begin their professional career at an executive level straight out of the gate. In fact, by the time many rise through the ranks to reach a leadership level they have held many positions and acquired a wide variety of skills. As an entrepreneur you have gained invaluable experience in a broad range of professional areas spanning leadership, sales and marketing, operations and finance. This resume of skills makes you extremely marketable and versatile.
2. Develop and Communicate your Value Proposition. Once you acknowledge the depth and breadth of your skill set and experience, it’s important to focus on your strongest and most dominant skills. Where are you most gifted and what do you enjoy most professionally? Are you drawn to the Sales and Marketing side or do you prefer Operations and Inventory? Do your skills lend themselves to Supply Chain and Operations or do you have a gift for Finance and Raising Capital? Once you’ve determined where your passion and strengths lie, focus your job search in that area.
3. Networking isn’t about quantity, it’s about quality. Do not try to be all things to all people, or in this case, all industries. Select 2-3 industry sectors where you are best suited, and focus on these. Research networking groups, both in person as well as online, that will not only provide you with connections but will also offer professional development and growth. Commit to those groups for 3-5 months before you make a decision about whether or not you’d like to continue investing your time and resources. The best way to determine a networking group’s success is for you to track the results. Introductions, referrals and even job leads are the best way to determine your ROI.
4. Resumes aren’t what they once were. In recent years, there have been significant changes to the way resumes are written. Not only should they be a professional inventory of the skills you possess and the experience you’ve gained over the years, but they should also be metric-driven. Today’s resumes must include quantifiable accomplishments. Be detailed! Simply stating that you were a President or Founder who “oversaw the daily running of the business” does not adequately illustrate the skills you possess. As discussed earlier, you wear many hats as an entrepreneur- highlight those skills by including a professional inventory of your day to day tasks. Lastly, much of today’s job search occurs online. As a result, job seekers must be “searchable.” Be sure to include industry specific buzzwords, skills and experience that employers are looking for. Click here for resume tips | Click here to view a sample resume
5. Do not get caught up in the perception that tenure and compensation will work against you. If marketed correctly, your ability to wear many hats, your adaptability and your well-developed Value Proposition will make you an asset to any business. Companies looking for strong leaders who bring experience and professional wisdom are willing to pay for it because they know their businesses will thrive for it.
The passion and entrepreneurial spirit that drives many professionals to venture out on their own will be their biggest asset going into a job search. Building a job search the way one builds a company, with vision, tenacity and a willingness to learn what works and what doesn’t, will help you land the job you want.
About the Authors
Ken Schmitt is the President and Founder of TurningPoint Executive Search and the Sales Leadership Alliance. Specializing in placing sales, marketing and operations professionals across the country, Ken’s 16 years of recruiting experience have equipped him with the knowledge to serve as a thought partner to his clients for all recruiting, hiring and human capital-related initiatives. Ken sits on the board of Junior Achievement, the American Marketing Association, the San Diego HR Roundtable and is an Advisory Board Member for San Diego Sports Innovators (SDSI).
Vicky Willenberg has served as the Social Media Manager for TurningPoint since 2011. In 2014, she was elevated to Digital Marketing Manager, broadening her participation across all things digital for the firm. A former teacher with a Masters in Education, Vicky is an active and published blogger at The Pursuit of Normal and a marketing professional. She has her finger on the pulse of the latest trends in the recruiting, hiring and leadership sectors.