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How Entrepreneurs Struggle To Find Jobs: 6 Lessons I Learned

Interestingly enough, we rarely consider the possibility of our businesses failing and when it does eventually happen, how do we face the fact that we are no longer CEOs, CMOs and COOs…?

As entrepreneurs working on our own ventures, we are never in need of applying for jobs or photoshoping our resumes till perfection. We are spending undefined hours in our co-working spaces, living in the worlds shaped by our dreams and ambitions. Yet, once those dreams start to shatter and new market entrants take away our market share and recognition, we find ourselves out there – back in the real world where we have to shape the very best of us in one page. 

At the time when I just went away from my first startup, I was desperately looking for executive positions within the field of marketing. Needless to say, I couldn’t think of assisting someone as opposed to managing a team that I could share my non-corporate marketing practices with. After weeks spent getting a solid grasp of Adobe Photoshop, formatting my resume till perfection, overwriting motivational letters to match each company’s needs, I finally sent out 78 applications. Got 10 proposals. None of them was satisfactory enough for me to jump on board immediately. Something wasn’t just there.

Prepare your mental state

Stepping out there and participating in the challenge of finding a workplace you would dedicate at least the next five years of your life, is definitely nerve-wracking. As psychologist Mark Turner outlined in his interview, the only way to meet the demands of high pressure is to have “the resources”. Whether it’s a positive outlook, perfectly tailored outfit or competent strategy suggestions, you have to leave your failures behind. Today is a new day and even if your business had failed, you have solid takeaways to share. 

Photo source: Unsplash.com

Shape the workplace by yourself

Dream job may sound like a cliché, but it especially matters if you are an entrepreneur coming from the workplace that you previously created for yourself. Admitting that there is nothing new under the sun and that most likely you will have to replace your expectations with suggestions in order to be fully engaged in your future workplace, will decrease your unrealistic demands. As indicated by Gallup’s most recent ‘State Of The Global Workplace’ report, only 10 percent of employees in Western Europe are engaged at their workplaces, leaving aside the fact that Western Europe is one of the most socially and economically developed regions in the world. The bottom line is that it’s much easier to find a job once you lower your expectations and take actionable steps (you can also highlight these steps throughout interviews with HR staff).

Use your entrepreneurial mindset

After attending a couple of seminars targeted to C-level position seekers, I have listened to a talk by the founder of Wozber, smart resume builder. Starting from a personal angle — the entrepreneur himself struggled to find ways to express his previous successful exits — he told that most job seekers fail to optimize their resume content for tracking systems, forget to identify their career goals, use harmful keywords and fall short in personalizing the design of resumes or cover letters. “Needless to say that even with tools like Wozber, empowered with handy features that automatically suggest optimal changes, applicants lack entrepreneurial mindset. In my opinion, even their e-mails to HR staff should be similar to what startup pitches are”, claims Tomas Slavinskas. Indeed, you should treat your resume as an advertisement, reflecting the needs of a company with a mission to hire you. Further techniques, such as creative e-mails or networking can increase your chances, but resume remains the core element, making you closer to your dream role.

Pitch yourself in a creative way

Once you have your experience laid out nicely, you have set yourself apart from thousands of other applicants out there. In a list of creative gimmicks, compiled by the Fast Company, you will find some hilarious examples, such as hacking into the company’s file-sharing service and sending out e-mails with examples of previous work, challenging company’s founder on a one-to-one basketball tournament or candidate sending a customized Barbie along with her resume. Even though creative pitches seem to be a good way to grab employer’s attention, you can’t forget the core: of which KPIs (key performance indicators) you have proven track record and what skills you can bring on the table. Right here and right now. However, it’s not only gimmicks that you should consider: when I updated my personal website’s marketing message to something as specific as “performance marketing that truly works: 75% higher conversation rates and 150% return on investment”, I immediately got 10 new clients. Personal branding is so important these days, therefore, remind yourself to constantly post about your professional life on social media. It’s extremely important to establish a unique positioning that you will be remembered for. That way, each time you have to pitch yourself, it will get smoother and you’ll truly become a leader of your field.

Consider failure as an experience

You may have heard it a thousand times: failure is an experience. However, to understand this statement and to use it efficiently, you need a strategy. It is commonly known that most of job interview questions include some reflections on things you could have done differently. Here’s the ideal opportunity to comprehend on your entrepreneurial experience: let the employer know that you have grasped of what it takes to build your company and be responsible for tens or thousands of people working for you. Your failed entrepreneurial venture or startup means nothing, but the fact that you strongly believed in your ideas and have put yourself into business owner shoes. As Nelson Mandela famously said: I never lose. I either win or learn.

Don’t avoid startups: they still need you

It is understandable that your first thought is to apply for Fortune 500 companies or corporations with hundreds of thousands of employees worldwide. Such target will place you in a very competitive market, where creativity and proven track record of accomplishments very likely won’t be enough. Therefore, going back to your roots and researching startups that went to initial public offerings may be a better option. Additionally, many well-funded startups announce their openings via platforms, such as AngelList or F6S that are connecting different startup community members. The bottom line once again is that you are out there in the market, hence, be bold and take risks. In the end, you have always been an entrepreneur in everything you do.

The bottom line: there is always a place for you

As always, things very much depend on you. I am a believer that if something happens, it does happen for a reason. Hence, if there was a reason for you to quit your entrepreneurial venture and devote your time somewhere else, then it’s also a sign that there are new doors to be opened. Whether it’s getting back to freelancing, becoming a head of NGO or discovering the corporate world – it’s still about the same old thing: bringing 120% of yourself to the things you love. It’s about time you start thinking that everything is an evolving journey and as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg said, even Facebook is only 1% complete as each day presents new market entrants, digital trends and new challenges to be tackled. Re-charge and re-start your journey today. 

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