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Career Corner: Returning to Corporate

Downtown Los Angeles. – Courtesy photo by Owen Lystrup on Unsplash

Small businesses are a special thing in our country. Being able to start something from a vision and grow it is a gift. But the pandemic is taking a toll on small business owners. Many are reconsidering the idea of being self-employed. If you find yourself in this situation, there are a few things to consider.

First, job seeking takes time. It takes a lot of time. Not only is there the work of applying, but there is networking and interviewing. If you’re thinking of going back to corporate, don’t wait until you’re desperate. Start now. It could take many months, even in a good situation.

People who work in a corporate environment will have a hard time understanding what it was like to be self-employed. They will ask insensitive questions about whether or not your business is failing. They may ask if your skills are out of date. They will have a very hard time picturing how running your own business has prepared you for this moment. They won’t relate to how hard owning a business is, how stressful it is, or how unstable it can be at times. Rehearse your answers ahead of time and try not to react poorly when asked why you want to leave.  

Don’t look for the perfect fit. This sounds counterintuitive. You’re giving up a dream. It should be for a good reason. You should find the perfect opportunity. You want to find something you’re going to be just as good at and even more passionate about. You’ve worked too hard to walk away for the wrong job.

I would argue that this is the wrong approach. Reentering the corporate world is very hard. It’s like switching career fields. You need to get back into the pool to show everyone you can still swim. It shows people that you can work well with others, and that you don’t mind taking direction. (This is another big fear of your future hiring manager.)

Realize that it’s okay to grieve. For most people, giving up a business feels like a death. You pour your heart into a business the way you would pour your heart into a child. You plan your future around it. It becomes your identity. Moving on from your business is hard.

If you decide to transition back into corporate, reach out to those around you for help. Call your friends and colleagues. Contact your college career resources department. Sign up for LinkedIn. Even those in the corporate world get help when they are looking. There’s no reason you should do it alone.

Just remember, the transition back to corporate will not be easy but at the end you will have the stability you’re seeking. You’ll have a reliable paycheck, and solid health benefits. You may even have 401-K matching. As hard as it is to give up your business, there is a bright spot waiting for you.

Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

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