7 Job-Search Steps for Entrepreneurs

Beat the special challenges of looking for a full-time job.

As you consider whether you want to trade your independent-contractor status for full-time employee, career counselors and human resources professionals offer this advice for determining if this is the right decision for you, as well as strategies for finding the right fit.

Build relationships If you are concerned about how you will work within a company, remember that even as a solo practitioner, you were building bonds and relationships with others, said Linda Hall, president and senior partner of Wakefield Way Consulting in Rochester, N.Y. “You have that skill, and you used it extensively. Now, you will have to use it to work with peers.”

Use your connections If there is a company you are interested in, said Hall, “I always tell people to find that six degrees of separation. Through your connections, you will know someone who is already in that company. Talk to them. Find out what makes people successful there. What are the core expectations of becoming part of that corporate family? You want to be sure that the culture will be a good fit.”

“Most of your leads will come outside of your immediate circle,” echoed Caroline Ceniza-Levine of New York career coach SixFigureStart. “Your ability to go two or three degrees out is where you will really open up opportunities.”

Find a partner Speak to someone who can help you focus your search and be a sounding board for ideas. “I encourage people who have been independent to find a professional peer or colleague who can help you stay in confidence building mode,” Hall said. “It’s particularly important to help you keep that long-term perspective.”

Market research Do diligent research, targeted specifically at the organizational culture. “Assess the fit between the culture of the organization and your own personal values,” said Matthew Arrigale, VP for Human Resources, Americas, at Schott North America of Elmsford, N.Y. Talk to current employees; try to find someone with the organization that has made the same transition.”

Pitch like a consultant “Identify what is keeping a prospective employer up at night, and present yourself as a solution,” Ceniza-Levine said. “Then, pitch like a consultant. In some ways, you are at an advantage because you’ve done these pitches. The solution has to be framed around you being there, in the office, working for the long term.”

Brag about the boss Your resume and job interview should reflect your entrepreneurial skills. Talk about how you ran the business, how you were flexible and able to deal with change, Arrigale said. Talk about how you had to think about the big picture but also rolled up your sleeves. Those are the same types of tasks you will do within an organization.

Name-drop Your resume should highlight your clients. A resume from an independent contractor should talk about the clients with which you have worked and what you succeeded in doing for them. “If you did work for a Fortune 500 company, that’s impressive,” Ceniza-Levine said. “If you’ve been published, if you’ve done speaking, make sure those are up high.”