5 Tips For Entrepreneurs Seeking Corporate Jobs


If you’re an entrepreneur looking for a corporate job, you’ve got company!

Business closures spiked up to 5.2% in 2022 (from 2.9% in 2019), the latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor shows. Economic uncertainty, inflation, reduced consumer spending are hurting entrepreneurs.

Exploring corporate opportunities makes sense: Skills forged in entrepreneurial ventures – like personal learning, and the ability to independently confront and solve challenges – are expected to be crucial for the future of work.

But recruiters hesitate: They believe ex-entrepreneurs aren’t serious about corporate jobs, won’t be able to take direction from their bosses, and are poor team players, according to Texas State University and Auburn University researchers who asked 86 professional U.S. recruiters about the benefits and concerns they have about such applicants

Biases hinder entrepreneurs from getting interviews: they need to send out considerably more job applications than non-entrepreneurs to get a call back from a potential employer.

Where non-entrepreneurs need to send out 5 applications to get a call back on a software engineering position, entrepreneurs have to submit 8 applications to get the same result, according to a study that sent fictitious resumes to 2,400 real U.S. job postings. The call back penalty for entrepreneurs versus non-entrepreneurs is similar for HR and marketing positions, a different study showed, using similar methods.

1. Work With Recruiters Who Are Ex-entrepreneurs

Recruiters who have been in your shoes don’t penalize entrepreneurial experience. Neither do recruiters who have entrepreneurial aspirations, studies conducted independently in the U.S. and in China find. Presumably, people are more familiar and confident with the skills business founders bring to the table when they can relate to that experience.

2. Seek Jobs Requiring Entrepreneurial Skills

Recruiters are more likely to see a potential fit for those jobs requiring autonomy, proactivity, and innovativeness. In fact, for some positions – like business development officer – recruiters prefer entrepreneurs over people with regular work experience, the Texas State University and Auburn University study finds.

3. Turn Your Venture Exit Into A Selling Point

Applicants who highlight the skills and knowledge gained from a successful venture exit get higher endorsements from recruiters, Texas State University and Auburn University researchers find in a different study. They speculate that entrepreneurs who can translate their experiences into applicable corporate skills help assuage recruiters’ concerns about fit.

4. Show Evidence Of Teamwork, Direction-Following

Recruiters worry that ex-entrepreneurs will have a difficult time in corporate roles where they need to follow – rather than set – direction. Clearly, any evidence of being able to take direction and ceding authority should be particularly helpful in assuaging recruiters on this point. Similarly, demonstrating the ability to work as a team and openness to others’ ideas could temper the belief that entrepreneurs are solo players, who look only after themselves.

5. Highlight The Job’s Fit With Your Passion

Companies seek candidates who demonstrate long-term commitment to the organization. Entrepreneurs don’t naturally fit that ideal – recruiters tend to assume they will prioritize their personal projects and passions over the company’s needs, view the role as a temporary gap filler, and soon look elsewhere for new challenges. Seeking and emphasizing commonalities with the company’s values, projects, and goals may help counter these biases.

For entrepreneurs interested in a corporate career, incorporating these strategies into your approach can significantly enhance prospects when transitioning from entrepreneurship to a corporate career. Leveraging recruiters with entrepreneurial backgrounds, showcasing skills, emphasizing the learnings from the entrepreneurial experience, and aligning passion with the company’s values, can help to address recruiters’ concerns in the corporate landscape.


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