Resume of a Failed Business Owner

I read a resume today from an individual that had been running a company they started more than five years ago.  The company was in the movie industry.

The job seeker had successfully started their company and kept it alive for over five years.  They also have produced several multi-million dollar films in that time, raising the required capital along the way. 

This is good experience and shows the scope of this individual’s responsibility.  The problem was that the performance of the company was never discussed. 

Having a large budget doesn’t make someone a success.  Controlling costs and producing a profit are critical to a business’s success.  This information was left out of the resume.

It’s likely that the job seeker is looking for a job because their business has failed or is in the process of failing.  This isn’t a career stopper, in fact, keeping a business running for as long as this individual did and going through the decline and failure was probably one of the best learning experiences in this person’s career. 

So what should they do?  The first thing is to not hide what happened.  By not saying what happened to the company, a hiring manager is going to assume it failed – so confirming that isn’t going to make a worse impression.  It’s likely that the reality of the situation isn’t as bad as the image a hiring manager will imagine.

The next thing to do is discuss some of the successes along the way.  When a person has a business fail, it’s easy to dwell on the failure. Getting hired requires recognizing and promoting the successes. A business doesn’t survive as long as this one did if it never turned a profit.  Talking about the specific projects that were successful will help demonstrate the capabilities of the job seeker.

On this resume, there were lots of numbers stating how big the projects where and how much was spent.  There was nothing about revenues or profits – just expenses.  Anyone can have expenses – generating sales and profits are the key.

The job seeker should emphasize their strengths.  It is likely the individual was very good at one or more aspects of the business – promotions, production, administration, etc. – unfortunately, their resume isn’t clear on this.  Identifying these strengths and highlighting them in the resume will help make the case that this individual could be a valued employee.

The job seeker didn’t highlight any successes and they didn’t explain the failure.  All we know is that they worked on building this business and it didn’t last.  That’s not a selling point. 

If you are in this situation, highlighting your strengths and accomplishments will help you get interviews. In an interview, it will be important to show what roles are good for you and what roles are similar to the failed venture. You and the employer will want to match your skills to the right role. If you can clearly explain this, the failure will not be career killer.