How Do You Get a Job After Being Self Employed for 20 Years?

This scenario happens pretty frequently , and if it is happening to you now, I hope you find this helpful.



“How do you get a new job after being self-employed for 20 years?”

As many of my answers go, it depends.

It depends on the field that you are in. The answer is going to be different if you owned a retail store versus being an insurance broker versus being a contract consultant working in a number of clients. Let me give some general answers that will be part of the framework.

Assuming you are not a self-employed contractor type, that you have owned the business for a number of years, the idea is to take advantage of a number of the resources that you have that the average individual isn’t going to have.

For example, you have a relationship with an accountants and he or she has relationships with other accountants, your networking should start with your accounting firm, your audit firm, your CPA… “I’m thinking of closing up and I think it’s time for me to find a job. Please keep your eyes and ears open for me for other opportunities.” If they’re smart, they will.


Start with your accountant, your insurance agent, all the vendors that you’ve worked with, make it clear that you’re not going bankrupt and that you will be a deadbeat with your bills and asked them to introduce you to people who might be interested in what you do.

So you start with professionals and then you start to go to your extended network. 

For example, if you belong to a BNI chapter and speak to the other members that you’re thinking of hanging it up, they will help you a lot, they will be an antenna for you in your local community for helping you get introductions.

Tell everyone – – friends, neighbors– there is no embarrassment anymore. What you are doing is using your network of relationships in order to receive introductions to others.

There is a classic story and job hunting that I heard many years ago whose cleaning person introduce someone to her husband, who is the president of a bank. The reason the person was cleaning homes was as part of the spiritual practice. She didn’t need the money but wanted to maintain humility.  Eventually, the person gave her resume, after all, this was the cleaning person and he didn’t know her husband was the head of a bank.  After all, who could she possibly know they could help him?

That’s why you tell everyone. You tell your banker (not the idiot at the desk. The person that you had a relationship with for a number of years, not the rotating 24-year-old who sits at a desk and opens accounts; obviously, there is a difference between the stereotype of the 24-year-old that I just used and others who are extraordinary). Start talking to everyone, making sure that they know.

Obviously, at some point you will need a resume. In constructing the resume, you will want to think, not in terms of being an owner, because, as an owner, unless you are buying another business or manage another business, you will be joining in a staff for all and, depending upon the staff role that you are interviewing for, make sure that your resume speaks to that part of your background.

So, lots of dynamics here and I want to offer a few points I thought might help.


Do you think employers are trying to help you?

You already know you can’t trust recruiters—they tell you as much as they think you need to know to take the job they after representing so they collect their payday.

The skills needed to find a job are different yet complement the skills needed to do a job.

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter has been a career coach and recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. changes that with great advice for job hunters—videos, my books and guides to job hunting, podcasts, articles, PLUS a community for you to ask questions of PLUS the ability to ask me questions where I function as your ally with no conflict of interest answering your questions.

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