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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Importance of Annual Résumé Updates

A reader writes:

Hi, Anita:

I have been working at my current job for about two years. From the time that I started until now, my job responsibilities have grown. Even if I am not planning on leaving my current position, should I keep updating my résumé? If so, how often?

Dear, Résumé Refresher:Annual Updates 2

Thank you for your question! Keeping your résumé up-to-date is very important to your current and future career success. Creating a résumé that is high quality and worthy of attracting future employers takes a lot of time and effort to produce. Don’t let the cobwebs build up and cover up what made you shine in the first place. Even if you are not planning on making a job change anytime soon, it is important to keep your CV current and include your recent accomplishments and duties. With the way the employment market and economy has been over the past few years, it is always good to be prepared in the unfortunate event that you are laid off.

As a good rule of thumb, everyone should plan on updating his or her résumés at least every six months. Be sure to include recent accomplishments, newly bestowed responsibilities, and anything important that is representative of your current position. If you have joined new professional organizations or become involved in new community groups, be sure to include this as well. It is important to add these as you go along because we all have a tendency to forget important details. What will also be helpful is to make what I like to call a “kudos” file. In this file, you can keep copies of performance reviews, recommendations, or testimonials to show how great of an employee you are!

Annual UpdatesAnother thing to do is to review job postings that are similar to your field and pick out the important buzzwords. With the high number of companies using keywords to filter out unqualified applicants, it is an important step to add a few to your résumé. In the chance that your dream job comes knocking at your door, you won’t find yourself scrambling to have a strong and relevant résumé.

By staying on top of your CV now, you will be in better shape later, prepared for anything that may come your way! If you need more advice on how to make sure your résumé stands out from the crowd, see my post Reasons for No Résumé Responses for tips.

Here is a great video about  how to update your résumé effectively!

Readers, how often do you update your résumé? What tips do you have for making your résumé the leader of the pack?

Best wishes,

Anita

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

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Meet Your Mentor

Hello, Anita:

I took a new job a few months ago in an industry that I am unfamiliar with. I am very eager to learn as much as I possibly can about this new area and want to find a mentor to help guide me through this transition. What should I look for in a mentor and how do I find one that is best suited for me?

Thanks!

Hi, Mentor Wanted:

Mentors are great resources to help build your knowledge in a new industry. I strongly believe that everyone should have a mentor and develop a strong relationship during their career. Good mentors provide a source of inspiration, understanding, motivation, and knowledge. Their guidance and perspective can help shape your decision-making and help you become the best professional you can be.

When looking for a mentor, it is important to understand what you want out of mentor-mentee relationship. Before you begin inquiring about mentee MW_Mentoropportunities, be sure you have the answers to the questions:

  • What are your career goals?
  • How do you hope to benefit from a mentor?
  • How do you think you can contribute to the relationship?
  • How often do you wish to meet or communicate?
  • What are the expectations for each person involved?

Once you have a clear understanding of what you would like from your mentee experience, it is time to do some digging and find your new mentor. I found a great article called The Wealth of Mentoring from one of my favorite resources, TradePost, that spells out some great tips for finding a mentor that will mesh with you. Coupled with a few of my own, these suggestions are great to keep in mind during your search:

  • Similar Career Goals: Find a mentor who is not only accomplished in your field but who has career goals that match your own.
  • Be Selective: Find someone who you think will be the best fit to help you in your career.
  • Personality Match: Find a mentor whose personality complements your own.
  • Referrals: Ask your human resources department, colleagues, and friends for good ideas of possible mentors.
  • Look outside of your office: Finding a mentor that is not directly related to your company can be great. Look to associations, business groups, and even family friends
  • Your new mentor may be younger: Don’t discriminate because of age. I am a full supporter of teaching old dogs (like me) new tricks!
  • Don’t limit yourself:  Have a variety of mentors to help strike a balance in all areas of your profession.

WW_Mentor

Keep in mind that finding a great mentor is not a race. Select carefully and spend time developing the relationship. The mentor you decide to work with may become your next business best friend and ally.

Readers: What qualities do you look for when selecting a mentor? What is the most important must-have trait you want in your mentors?

Becoming the Boss: Advice for New Managers

A reader writes:

Hi Anita,

After working as a Sales Associate at a high-end interior store for 4 years, I have finally received word that I am being promoted to Store Manager. I am very excited to have this opportunity and to have reached my goals. What are some tips you have for new managers in transition and just starting out?

Boss LadyDear, Proud to Be Promoted,

Congratulations on your promotion! This is a wonderful accomplishment that you should be extremely proud off. The hard work you have been putting in has certainly paid of!

Becoming a manager comes with a large new set of responsibilities and tasks that must be executed to keep your store or business running on a
day-to-day basis. Not only are you responsible for your own work and performance, but you must manage those who now are under your supervision too. It may seem overwhelming at first, but from the looks of things, I think you are on the right track.

Before you begin your first day as the new manager, schedule some time with your new boss to discuss expectations and roles they expect you to fill. Ask questions about how they feel about the team you are directing and what issues they feel need to be resolved first. Once you have a list, I suggest formulating a plan that you can submit to your boss before you assume your managerial role. This shows responsibility and initiative and confirms with your boss that they made the right decision by selecting you for the position.

Take some time to reflect on your past and figure out the managers in your life that you look up to. Ask yourself what these individuals did or did not do to make their office a great or terrible place to work. Find the key elements that you admire most in your mentors and implement these into your management strategy. Remember that this strategy is not set in stone. It will need to be shaped and molded to fit you and your team appropriately.

First off and most importantly, you have to refrain from letting the ego boost go straight to your head. Sometimes, as people are given more power in the workplace, they can be more aggressive and demanding. Do your best to maintain an even keel. On the flip side, don’t be a pushover and forget that you ARE the manager now. Be confident in providing direction, offering constructive criticism and feedback, and monitoring and managing performance/attitude issues.

If you haven’t already, get to know the people you will be working with and allow them to get to know you. Staff meetings are a great way to come together as a team and learn from one another. I think hosting staff meeting about once a week isStaff Meeting ideal, but schedule according to what your work requires. It helps build team strength and confidence. Next, take the time to meet with each employee individually. This will help build a one-on-one professional relationship and an open forum for questions and concerns. It will give you the opportunity to learn about their work style, what they need from you as a boss, and what you want from them as an employee. The collaborations help you and your team members get on the same page.

Once you have gone through the above steps, take out the management plan that you had created at the beginning of assuming your new role. With all the information gathered from your employees, bosses, other managers, and your own insights, make a few final tweaks and fine-tune your course of action. This is another good time to sit down with your boss to get any advice or suggestions from him or her. Once you are given the green light, grab the bull by the horns and take on your responsibilities full force.

And before I sign off, whatever you do, do not become this guy!

Have you been promoted to a managerial position recently? What did you find the most useful in making the transition?

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

Best of Luck on Your New Adventure,
Anita

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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