On my personal blog I wrote an article about how my entrepreneur friend has struggled in the job search. She wore a lot of hats at her old company and her resume demonstrated that. Unfortunately, companies aren’t looking to hire an “entrepreneur.” They are looking to hire a “sales manager,” “business development manager,” “marketing manager,” and so forth.
I feel a lot of entrepreneurs, myself included, struggle to develop their personal brand when applying for a job. While entrepreneurs feel they need to list every accomplishment and everything thing they do – it’s just quite simply not relevant when applying for a specific job. Therefore, I’ve created a list of items any entrepreneur must do to help develop their personal brand.
Developing your personal brand
You’re an entrepreneur. You’ve been involved with 15 to 20 different projects at your company. Now, it’s time to pick the task you enjoyed the most and begin making a career out of it.
Think about what you excelled in at your company. Think back to your success at the organization – where did you have the biggest impact? And most importantly – what did you enjoy doing? You’re an entrepreneur – you have fun in business. If you’re going to be switching away from being your own boss to having your own boss – make sure you choose a job function you enjoy.
2. Have your resume focus on the specific skillset you chose.
After reflecting on your life as an entrepreneur, you decided that you are a sales professional. You enjoyed all the other disciplines, but realized that your best contributions to your business was in sales. Great! Now your resume should focus on all your sales accomplishments.
You can have one bullet point containing all of your other entrepreneurial activities at your company. After that, the rest of your bullet points should be related to your sales work. Talk about creating a sales plan. Talk about how you managed the sales process. Talk about what you looked for when you hired other sales team members.
This is the part of the process where the prospective employers see that a large part of your entrepreneurial success was due to your sales skills. They begin to see how your sales skills can explicitly benefit their organization.
You’re an entrepreneur! You enjoy building things. Here’s another project to start: a blog on the certain skillset you choose. For this example, if you are going down the route as a “sales professional,” it’s time to start writing a blog about running sales in a startup. Talk about the different challenges you faced. Talk about the experiences of running a startup’s sale organization.
Your blog will serve as the first way you rebrand yourself from “entrepreneurial superstar” to “entrepreneurial sales superstar”. By writing blog articles that demonstrate your sales acumen, you will begin to shed the image that you are an “entrepreneur who wears many hats” and begin to develop the image that you are “an entrepreneur, who is used to wearing many hats, who succeeds at sales.”
4. Update your social media profiles.
You should update the descriptions on all your social media profiles to reflect your new sales professional personal brand. Your Linkedin headline should reflect your new brand, saying something along the lines of “Experienced and entrepreneurial sales professional.” Your Twitter handle should make mention to your previous life as an entrepreneur and your new life as a sales professional.
On Linkedin, you should request recommendations that mention your specific skillset. If a prospective employer is on the fence about you, they will go to your Linkedin profile for more “clues” about you. If they go on to your Linkedin profile and see a couple of recommendations that explicitly mention your skills in sales – that could be the factor that tips the scales in your favor.
On the other side, if they go on to your profile and see people recommending you for everything BUT your sales skills, that could cause some doubt.
5. Write a case study or guest blog article.
As a final way to establish credibility on your chosen niche and to further establish your personal brand, you should write a case study detailing a specific sales story/example at your startup and how you overcame any obstacles. If you are guest published on a well known sales blog, it’ll help establish your credibility. On your resume, you can include a section on your published work. This would count as third party validation of your abilities.
In the end, you’ll always be branded as an entrepreneur. But, if you are serious about working for someone, you need to be able to prove you can focus on one or two specific job functions and you’ll need to be able to demonstrate how your history as an entrepreneur puts you above others who have may have more experience performing their one or two specific job functions. Working on your personal brand will get you to that level.
Ben Cathers is a young entrepreneur and author who successfully built three different internet startups before he was 19. Ben is the author of Conversations with Teen Entrepreneurs and was named in 2005 by CNN as a member of “America’s Bright Future.” Ben has been mentioned in the Wall Street Journal, FOX News, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo! Internet Life, The London Sunday Times and in over 40 different publications. Ben maintains a blog on social media and entrepreneurship at BenCathers.com and is on the advisory board of BranchR.com, ZepFrog Corp and iGot2Know LLC.