Thursday, 5 July 2012

Ask James Caan – Issue 101

Dear member,

In these turbulent economic times, businesses have taken the brunt, with many being forced to go under. Subsequently, this often means that the owner has to go out and find a less prominent role within another company.

The transition can be a difficult one to make, however, it doesn’t have to be. When executed properly, it can bring about refreshing change and open up new, exciting opportunities.

Last week I received an email from Jackie, who has owned her own business for the past 5 years. Changing circumstances, however, are forcing her to look at returning to employee status.

She asked:

“Being a business owner is it harder to get back into main stream employment? What challenges may I face?”

Firstly, thank you Jackie for getting in touch. Your situation is not uncommon; especially in the current financial downturn we are experiencing. Rather than being daunted by it though, you must ask yourself how these shifts in the marketplace are opening up new opportunities for you to tap into.

The key here is to stay ahead of the game. You have already accepted a big turning point in your career, so you are in a prime position to now go ‘whole hog’ and diversify completely. Everyone needs to be chameleon-like in a recession and be able to adapt well to change.

The biggest issue you, and others, face is the art of re-packaging your skills. This is so as not to scare off potential employers, whilst at the same time remaining truthful. Although it is a case of survival of the fittest, rather than being focussed on yourself, you need to think carefully about what a potential employer is looking for.

Having owned your own company you will have acquired a wide and varied skills set. While you may need to play down how you applied some of these skills, you certainly shouldn’t omit them completely.

For example, it is likely that you will have managed a team of people. But, instead of playing up your managerial experience, make the focus more on ‘effective teamwork’. The main concern an employer will have when hiring someone who is moving ‘down’ the career ladder, is whether or not they can adapt to being in a less authoritative position.

You need to make them believe that this is a transition you want to make. Thinking of not having that ultimate responsibility anymore and being less stressed should help with this.

All the very best Jackie,

James Caan

Question? Email me at for the chance to appear in next week’s column.

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