How to write a CV when moving from self-employed to employment

If you’re making the transition from being your own boss to working for someone else, you need to make sure your CV is selling all your transferable skills. Writing a CV for a new position when you have previously been self-employed isn’t always easy.

On the surface, being self-employed shows you’re entrepreneurial and confident in your abilities. However, a prospective employer might read into it that you can’t be managed or that you’re leaving your own business because it failed. Neither of which might be true.

What to highlight

Most people who’ve worked for themselves are able to overcome adversity, build connections with clients and personally deliver results in order to keep their business afloat. These are the types of attributes you should highlight on your CV; give examples of times when you’ve used them to progress/expand your business, or reach your targets.

You should also be conveying the range of responsibilities you undertook when running your own business. Did you manage staff? Were you in charge of accounts, HR, marketing? Even professionals who’ve run a very niche business will have gained expertise in several areas that their employed counter-parts may not have.

Also, if you’ve ever spoken at an industry event or had anything published in relevant journals or online publications, this will give you credibility as an expert in your field, so reference this on your CV.

Keeping positive

Although you were running your own business, you must show that you can still work well with the direction of other people and as part of a team. There are several aspects of being self-employed that are off-putting to prospective employers, so it’s important you put a positive spin on anything that makes you sound unmanageable.

The same goes for your motivations for leaving full-time employment in the first place. Emphasise the fact that you started your own business because you have a ’get up and go’ attitude and sought new challenges, rather than stating you left employment because you hated it. Employers want to feel you’re choosing them as much as you want to feel you’ve been selected for their role.

Varied experience

As mentioned above, being self-employed often gives you a wealth of experience in various areas of business. This may put you at an advantage above candidates who have only performed one role in their previous career.

You should also include any major successes you had while working for yourself, briefly detailing the task, what challenges you faced, how you overcame them, what responsibilities you delegated and how you got results.

In most cases, self-employed professionals have had to build relationships with customers and clients throughout the course of their business life. This is an extremely transferable skill that will apply to internal and external relationships in future employment.

Before you consider writing a CV and applying for roles, you may have to come to terms with the fact that you’ll now be reporting to someone else. Moving from self-employed to employee can be difficult and until you accept this, it may be hard to find a position that will provide you with any job satisfaction.

What's next?

If you’re currently searching for your next role, submit your CV to Michael Page or browse our jobs.

Download your Job Applicant Toolkit

Want more tips for your upcoming interview? 

Download your toolkit today

Are you looking for a new role?

Do you want to secure more interviews for exciting new roles? Michael Page can help.

Submit your CV today

Candidate Hub

Search for vacancies, submit your CV, browse through our career advice and more.

Visit our Candidate Hub