Entrepreneurship is not an "employment gap"

Recruiter: “This is a pretty long employment gap.”

Me: “What employment gap?”

Recruiter: “Well you haven’t been employed since 2002.”

Me: “I have been employed, as you can see on my resume I’ve been running my own business since then.”

So went the conversation between myself and an HR recruiter while he was reading my resume. I’m not sure why this view is held but I’ve had similar conversations with several other HR recruiters. Now I’m not writing this to speak poorly of any HR recruiter but to shed light on the positive aspects of hiring an entrepreneur.

Let me explain how I came to be an entrepreneur. While working at EMC Corporation as the Internal Marketing Communications Coordinator…I loved my job. If the dot com bust and 9/11 hadn’t happened, I might still be working for them. Immediately after I was laid off, EMC started sub-contracting projects to me. Initially I wasn’t inclined to start my own business…I was used to the comfortable umbrella that working for someone else provided. However given the economy in early 2002, my employment options as a creative marketing director were limited.

Running my own business was something I’d never considered. It was a great unknown but I jumped in.

Entrepreneurs are willing to take risks.

I found it a challenge to run my own business; I needed to learn stuff like bookkeeping, come up with a business plan and spend endless hours doing “non-paying” work to lay the foundation for the future of my business. I loved it and spent endless hours working well beyond the traditional 40 hour work week to make my business succeed.

Entrepreneurs are persistent workers who enjoy a challenge.

I also continued to learn, adapt and change as the needs and requirements of my clients evolved. When I originally started out I was doing predominantly graphic design for traditional marketing. After about a year I saw my clients needed more help integrating their offline with their online marketing so I took classes and educated myself about web design and online marketing. Now the focus of my business is more about providing online marketing solutions to clients through educating them about social media and providing creative content like online video production to work seamlessly with their social media efforts.

Entrepreneurs are committed to adapting and improvement.

While I know this is just my experience and every entrepreneur is different, I don’t see how potentially hiring someone with these skills could be a bad thing for any company.

Entrepreneurs bring a prudent sense of risk taking to the job. That doesn’t mean they’re running around like Yosemite Sam firing their guns in the air. They just know how to balance risk with reward. Entrepreneurs are also relentless and aren’t easily disheartened. They are willing to work very hard if the rewards are right.

I understand that some employers may be hesitant because they may feel an entrepreneur could jump ship at the next big opportunity. That’s understandable and each individual with an entrepreneurial background is different. But would you rather hire a mediocre employee who’s just punching the clock or an employee with an entrepreneurial background who given the right working environment could reap results for your company far beyond your expectations? What are your thoughts?