Depending on your line of work, and your career history-you very well might have spent some time working as a contract for a handful of clients; or perhaps, owning your own business. In either event, you were self employed; and whether or not you were successful at it has no bearing on the initial response to an employer seeing it on your resume. To them, while you may have had perfectly acceptable reasons-and did well at being self-employed-they see “self employed” and think negative. Negative because working for their company was not your first choice; and also, that working for someone else was not something you enjoyed or preferred. This makes you less applicable to their position and company; because companies want you be moldable to their objectives-as team players-not entrepreneurs. This said, in order to dispel any negative connotation that might be floating in the air above your resume-while prospective employers read it, you need to know how to mention self employment in your resume and cover letter. We discuss just how to do this below.
Explain Why: The first rule of thumb when drafting a resume that has some sort of self employment listed on it-is to consider why you were self employed. Though it should not be considered a negative thing to have a period of self employment listed on your resume-it is often associated with unemployment-which, of course-is a very different thing. So, perhaps, you decided to start your own craft business online, had just had a baby, or were recovering from some sort of physical ailment. Whatever the reason, it is best to consider its existence-whether positive or negative-in order to best position yourself for the best positive explanation of it on your resume.
Explain Its Nature: Once you have the main reason that you were self employed, you will have to consider the nature of this absence from the main corporate working world. So, by nature, we mean, was your business successful, did you work while taking care of your baby-and what did you do, etc? Often, when a prospective employer sees the term self employed, they think negative; but if you can explain exactly what you did during this time and show how hard working you were or if there was a plausible reason (such as pregnancy or illness), they will give you a break-and perhaps, even see the situation as positive.
Show Yourself in the Best Light: So, while it is vital that you are completely truthful with your career background-even for the simple reason that most employers check this stuff-it is also necessarily to show yourself in the best light-and this applies to your time of self employment as well. So, while you may have had a period in which you tried to begin a startup and failed miserably; you do not want to let on that this was the case. Instead, you have to turn the situation into one that has brought positive outcomes from its experience and transferable skills-even if it is just a lesson learned.