Should I include this on my resume?

I’m a soon-to-be graduate, about to enter the workforce in this terrible, awful, no good very bad job market. I’m sure it will turn out great!

In writing my resume, I’ve run into a dilemma, however. I started a business a while ago, and although it’s involved me learning and practicing a lot of good business skills (management, accounting, sales, day to day running sorts of things), I wonder whether I should put it on my resume. My business doesn’t make enough to live off of yet, and it’s not in the industry I’d ultimately like to be in, so I want to get a “real” job. It seems to me if I were an employer, especially a picky employer in this job market, I’d pass up anyone who mentioned that they had their own business, because the odds of them leaving are much higher (for temperament reasons if nothing else, even if the business never becomes successful enough to leave on its merits).

So, should I just remain mum about the whole thing if I want the best chance at landing a job?

For any bosses out there, as an employer, would an employee with the business savvy that comes from starting and running a business be more desirable or less desirable? Why?

I’ve been running it concurrently with school and another job, so leaving it out won’t leave any time gaps or anything like that. I fully intend to be a dedicated employee and one of the best people there wherever I do end up, I just wonder whether they’d even give me a chance to prove that if I include it. What do Dopers think?

I recommend not putting it on your resume. Many companies actually prohibit employees from running side businesses. Even if it is unrelated to the job (i.e., unlikely to produce a conflict of interest), there is the risk of an employee using company time and resources for the benefit of the side business.

If it was a successful business which you had sold, then by all means put it on the resume. Since you are still operating the business, it would be risky to include it.

Whatever you decide, best of luck in the job search. :slight_smile:

I disagree. I’d definitely mention it – The fact that you were willing and able to run a business shows initiative and management skills. This is especially important if you’re competing with other new graduates. Assuming things are the same, your business will show you in a very good light compared to the usual student job history.

I used to freelance before getting my regular job. That was considered a plus by people hiring.

The business will help get you an interview, at any rate. At the interview, you make it clear that it’s only a sideline until you’re able to work full time somewhere.

Ooh, hey. So far two diametrically opposed answers!

RealityChuck, is that true even if my business isn’t in a field anywhere near the industry I’ll be applying in? You say you used to freelance, but was it in the same field you were applying for jobs in?

Hell, yes! Mention it.

First, anything that sets you apart as a new graduate helps a lot. Thousands of students looking for entry positions have resumes that look almost exactly the same. Having started and run a business is is something few of your fellow graduates will be able to say they have done.

Second, starting and running a business gives you skills that will be useful in almost any job you take. Any savvy hiring manager should understand that someone who has run his or her own company will have a better idea about what may be going on in the company as a whole, than someone who has just taken college courses and had part time jobs or internships.

Third, it’s a great thing to talk about on interviews.

And finally, if you are entrepreneurial and the company (or the manager hiring you) is afraid of that, then you probably won’t fit in all that well. On the other hand, if you are being hired by a person or company who values that, it will be good for you.

ETA: Yes, it doesn’t matter if it is a different industry. What you learn starting and running a business is useful in any business.

Did you claim your ‘business’ on your taxes, is it a registered organization? If not, I’d skip it. If it is, and you aren’t young (like 22 – right out of college), I’d put it on.

If you are young I’d have a laugh at the resume and show it to some coworkers before tossing it in the trashcan. Especially ones that has “STEADIERFOOTING INC, PRESIDENT AND CEO”

Another vote for keeping it on your resume. Starting a business takes initiative and creativity, attributes I look for when reading a resume.

  1. Was there a significant time when you were doing this full-time (not being a student)? If so, it’s probably better to put it on than leave a big employment gap.

  2. Are the skills you developed relevant to the particular job you’re applying for? If so, then, sure put it on. Remember, a resume is just a tool to get them to interview you, and I think someone who was self-employed is going to make them at least curious (I doubt they’ll decide you’re a flight risk until they get a chance to talk to you about it). But Mr. Footing is right – don’t oversell it. (“Started single-person company with $XX in sales” is better for a recent graduate than “Founder, Chairman and CEO of”)

Are you planning to continue running this business if you’re hired on by a potential employer?

While the ability to start up and run a business is valued by a lot of companies, most companies prefer for that to be in their employee’s past… not their present. For one, there’s a risk that their new employee will be devote too much time and energy to their business when they should be focused on their day job… can you really guarantee that you’d be 100% committed to your “real” job from 9am-5pm, or would you occasionally end up spending company time dealing with an email or phone call for your own business?

There’s also a risk, in their eyes, that you may be working for them just long enough for your own company to gain enough momentum to become a full-time gig, which means they’d have wasted time and resources in training someone who was never planning on staying long-term.

You can definitely include it on your resume, but I’d strongly suggest making it clear that the business will be put on the back-burner once you have your “real” job. Otherwise, they’ll probably go with someone who can give them their undivided attention… when it comes to entry-level jobs, the most important characteristics are how eager and how trainable you’ll be.

I work in the defense business and have certainly been a part of a lot of hiring decisions over the years. I can tell you that in looking over the resumes of lots of college grads, if one had their own business and put that on their resumes, I would view it as a plus and it make it stand out over all the others in the bin. Other than that, the only thing that is going to be different is the school and the GPA.

Assuming I am hiring for a computer programming/analyst position, I’d expect a Harvard grad and a University of Phoenix grad to have the same basic skills, so all things being equal in terms of GPA, I would probably hedge towards the Harvard person. But, if the University of Phoenix person had a business where they sold mountain bike parts in college, I would probably put them on equal footing or maybe even hedge towards that one because it shows initiative, even though mountain biking has nothing to do with defense. One caveat would be if the business was of questionable taste - e.g. made porn websites, sold drug paraphernalia, etc., in which case it could hurt you.

I would also make it clear on the resume that you NO LONGER run that business (e.g. say it was from 2005-2009 for the dates), so there is no question you will not be moonlighting to work on your business instead of at mine.

I’d agree with Yarster - running a business could set you apart from a sea of recent graduates who can claim nothing but academic achievements. However, if you have an average or below-average GPA, I can see how it might hurt you. One might think that if you had a low-ish GPA and an unsuccessful business, that you weren’t able to balance the workload of both college and your business, and possibly could also be seen as a sign of indecisiveness. You’d think it would be seen as a mitigating factor to a low GPA, but that’s how I would see it if I were reviewing your resume.

But if your GPA is excellent, then whether the business was successful or not is almost immaterial - simply trying to get a business off the ground while excelling academically shows a lot of drive.

And I’d second that you shouldn’t list your business if it was not 100% above board (i.e., in a reputable industry, with letters of incorporation, tax statements, etc.), and also that you should provide a guarantee to any potential employer that you’ll dissolve the business should you be hired, and provide proof of such if asked.

Well, no offense, but you don’t really know what employers look for, do you? Good companies, like the ones you want to work for, don’t hire weak candidates assuming they have no other options. Normally running a business, even a small part time student business, is considered a plus. But like any job, you want to send a clear message that you are looking to make a career with your potential employer.

I’m with Billdo and Yarster - I’ve been involved in hiring, and one of the things that made one particular candidate stand out was that he had started and run his own business while in university. That really made him stand out from the other candidates, who all had very similar résumés, since they were all straight out of university. We took it as a good indication that he had drive and the ability to work independently, qualities which were needed for the position.

He was one of the best hires we made during the time I was on the hiring committee, and I still remember that part of his résumeé, over a decade later.