Employment after being an entrepreneur

How do I put my start-up business on my resume?

Running your own business is hard and you have to wear many hats. I’ve been there with a failed venture called “Mr. Good Name” back in my 20s that I started with a buddy of mine. It provided online reputation management services to small businesses in Ohio.

Being an entrepreneur teaches you a lot of skills you wouldn’t normally be exposed to; however, it doesn’t always translate well to a traditional resume and some employers may be reluctant to hire you. 

Tips for translating your resume:

What do you call yourself?

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is adding the title “CEO” if you were a one-person show. Yes, you were the CEO but a CEO’s resume looks really different than that of most people. Some recruiters might be concerned that you’re either arrogant or that you’re over-qualified for their position. Unless you actually had a significant amount of staff reporting to you and are actively seeking another CEO role, I would avoid lofty titles. I prefer simply “business owner/founder.”

Tailor your skills to the job.

If you’re a one-person show, you likely were the head of marketing, accounting, customer service, and sales. You did it all! Look at the kinds of roles you’re applying for and cherry pick specific experiences and skills to include. You won’t be able to include all of your experience and that’s ok.

Addressing failure.

If you’re applying for a job after running your own business, it’s probably because your business didn’t work out. In my own case, my business partner and I knocked on over a thousand doors and had a direct mail marketing campaign, but ultimately we launched the business in a recession and there was not enough market demand for online reputation management services. Am I ashamed of this? No. But culturally we tend to look down on failure without context—so provide that context. Use the experience to tell a story during the interview of what you tried and what you learned and then employers will be more understanding.

Tout your success.

If you had any success with your start-up, you probably had to work HARD for it. So include the story of your business as well as growth it achieved.

Signal that you work well with and for others.

Here’s the big one: many people start their own business because they have trouble getting a job in the first place, can’t keep a job, or have trouble working with/for other people. So, they try to do their own thing. HR wants to be assured that you will stick around after they go to all the trouble to hire. During the interview, address these concerns as directly as possible and be ready to demonstrate that you are a team player who can report to others.

What if I’m still doing it?

If you are still working at your start-up, be aware that potential employers might be concerned by this. Employers are concerned that 1) your attention will be divided 2) you’ll jump ship the moment business picks up or 3) you’ll use this job to steal customers or business secrets. It might be worthwhile to consider shuttering your business or keep it up only as a lightweight consulting gig.

Tips for phone interviews

How to interview on the phone

Advice and tips for having a great phone interview

Following the pandemic, many initial interviews have switched to over the phone. Sometimes this will be followed up with an in-person interview, and sometimes the phone interview is your only chance to land the job. Here is our advice for having a great phone interview to get the job.

6 tips for improving your next phone interview

  1. Dress up (or at least be presentable). There is an unconscious effect that happens when you dress professionally–you generally feel more professional. This small psychological trick can help you perform better. Also, sometimes interviews will be changed to video interviews at the last minute and you don’t want to be left scrambling.
  2. Plan for a spot with good reception. Unfortunately, it’s all too common that a candidate sounds garbled on the phone due to a bad connection or we get disconnected and the interview just ends prematurely. Seek out a place where you can ensure a good connection and if you think there’s any risk of dropping a call, ask your interviewer for a call back number in case you get disconnected.
  3. Minimize distractions. It can be tempting to take these interviews “on the go” like at the grocery store or at a restaurant. Similarly, it might be easy to forget about your barking dog at home because you’re so used to it. Remember that we can hear everything going on the background and might be easily distracted by these small things. Focus solely on the interview and minimize auditory distractions.
  4. Speak up. Most people sound softer on the phone than they are in-person. Also, bluetooth headsets sometimes don’t pick up your voice as well as you think they do. Speak up and focus on annunciating during your interview. It’s also important to start the interview by asking if they can hear you clearly.
  5. Sit up and smile. When you sit up, you naturally project your voice better. Similarly, when you smile, as you would in an in-person conversation, your voice sounds more up-beat and dynamic. These small adjustments can help you sound more charismatic and confident when taking the interview.
  6. Get “in front” of them. If you’re having an interview at 9:00 a.m., email them a copy of your resume and a link to your LinkedIn profile at 8:30. Then send a thank you email right after you’re done! If a recruiter is doing multiple phone interviews in a day, it can be hard to keep them all straight. This helps us differentiate you as a candidate.
  7. Treat it like an in-person interview. It can be easy to treat phone interviews casually. Don’t! Take the time to research the company, connect with the people talking to you, and otherwise make a great impression.

Showing them you want the job

Expressing your passion while looking for work

Last week I was working with a job seeker who almost got declined for an interview, despite being incredibly well qualified. This was due to his not being overt about his desire to work at the organization. I had to convince the customer that he wanted to work for them.

Sometimes a job is just a business arrangement where one party gets talent and the other gets a paycheck. However, many organizations view themselves in a more egalitarian light. (Here at Peak Performers Staffing Agency, passion for the mission is critical to getting a job with us!)

Tips for showing them your heart

1 – Match the emotional tone of the company.

Some companies are out there to make money, some are there to get the hard work done, and some are seeking to change the world. Thoroughly evaluate the mission statement, marketing, and the about page of the company. Dial up or down your emotive language and personal pitch to match that of the company’s.

2 – Consider your job title.

Customer-facing roles typically require you to be more of a cheerleader for the brand. When I worked at Apple retail, being a “promoter” was key to getting promoted. If you will be interfacing with the public, mimic the tone you expect you would use when interacting with the public.

3 – Put your work desire in your cover letter/cover email.

Resumes are for facts, dates, summaries, and bullet points—resume’s are not places for “passion.” If you’re applying for a company where your emotional connection is a competitive advantage, write that cover letter/email to express it!

4 – Research your interviewers on LinkedIn.

Once you have an interview scheduled, look up your interviewers on LinkedIn. What kinds of things do they post? Channel their tone, energy, and the language they use into your own.

5 – Dial up your work passion during an interview.

Often, a resume and initial recruiter screen is there to check boxes. You’re being evaluated as to whether you possess the basic skills needed to do the job. An interview is often for digging into the “culture fit.” So dial up that passion during the interview. Channel that energy and let them know you want to be with them.

#recruitertips #jobseekeradvice #austinjobs #nowhiring #peakperformers #interviewtips #passionandpurpose

Master your elevator pitch

Elevator Pitches and Job Searching

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an elevator pitch and why do I need one?

An elevator pitch (for job seekers) is a short speech meant to pique the interest of a prospective employer. The idea is that it’s a short introduction speech that could be delivered on your way up an elevator with a stranger you’re trying to make an impression on.

You will need one in order to quickly introduce yourself in order to get a business card from someone on the inside.

How long is an elevator pitch?

The length of an ideal elevator pitch depends. Are you going up 2 floors or 20? Are you trying to get a business card or schedule lunch? Are there other people waiting in line behind you waiting for you to finish?

While many will say “around 30 seconds” I recommend timing it based on your surroundings and the attention span of the person you’re talking to. However, make sure you don’t talk continuously for more than a minute–that’s a long time!

Do elevator pitches work for job seekers?

A successful elevator pitch can get you a business card or allow you to make a favorable first impression, which is all it’s really meant to do. With this first impression and brief access to someone on the inside, you now have a competitive edge over the other job seekers who are blindly applying for a position.

When will you use an elevator pitch in job seeking?

At a job fair, over the phone, or even for the first few minutes of your interview to make an impression. Elevator pitches will come up constantly for job seekers. Think of it as a quick way to introduce yourself to strangers.

Advice for delivering a better elevator pitch

Listen before speaking

While it may seem like you don’t have a lot of time, the single biggest mistake I see people make is by just launching into an elevator pitch that is completely irrelevant to me and my position. Furthermore, when you waste my time with an irrelevant pitch (even if it didn’t take that long), I’m less likely to want to help you.

Don’t overthink this–a simple question such as: “what are you hiring for?” or “what do you do for XYZ company” is enough to give you information to help you deliver a better pitch.

Make eye contact, smile, shake hands

Focus on the basics here. You’re trying to impress them but even more important is leaving them with a positive impression. Make consistent eye contact (if you’re able to) and watch for signs of disengagement, like looking away. If they do disengage from your pitch, stop and ask about them instead of talking at them.

It’s important to realize that most people don’t like strangers by default. You’ll be seeking to tell them about yourself (briefly) and identify yourself as not a threat.

Crafting your pitch based on audience

Your elevator pitch is not static. You’ll need to change it not only based on how much time you have but also who you’re talking to.

Potential subordinates: if you’re talking to someone that could report to you someday, your # 1 goal is to show them that you’re not a jerk. The more that you can make yourself “likable,” the more likely they are to help you. Identify who you are and what you do, politely ask them how to be considered for the role, and then focus your time on building personal rapport.

Recruiters: recruiters are looking to check all their boxes and quickly pass along resumes for close fit candidates. You can get ahead with recruiters by asking who they’re looking for and then seeking to check their boxes. If appropriate for your experience-level, you can get ahead by presenting yourself as a subject matter expert so that they’ll go back to the office and tell their boss “guess who I just met!”

Peers/lateral connections: 75% of all jobs are filled via networking so it is critical that you make friends with your potential future co-workers. Similar to pitching to subordinates, focus less on impressing them and more on making a friend. Ask them about their day and identify with their struggles. Make sure to add them on LinkedIn and send them a friendly follow up email. Lateral connections will then go on to keep you in mind for this job and others like it if they like you.

Bosses: when talking to your potential future boss, it’s important to present yourself as being able to solve. Focus on how you add value to the organization and their department. These are the people you’re looking to wow and impress so keep it professional.

Practicing and Delivering your Elevator Pitch

Now that we’ve talked about how to craft your elevator pitch and tailor it to the audience, let’s talk about how to actually compose one.

1) Put it on paper.

Write down everything you would like a prospective employer to know about your skills, accomplishments, and work experiences that are relevant to your target position. Now edit until you have just a few key bullet points or sentences. The goal is to interest the listener in learning more, not to tell your whole life story. Shoot for 75-150 words.

As you’re writing this, think about how it will change based on your audience.

2) Format it.

A good pitch should answer three questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you do?
  • What are you looking for?

Don’t get bogged down in the details!

3) Read your pitch out loud.

The best editing you can do is to hear how it sounds out loud.

4) Practice, practice, practice (then ask for feedback).

Rehearse your pitch in front of a mirror or use the recording capabilities of your mobile device, so you can see and hear how you sound. Continue to fine tune your pitch until it no longer sounds rehearsed. When you are satisfied with your pitch, try it out on a few friends and ask for honest and constructive feedback.

Preparing for your interview at Peak Performers

Peak Performers Hiring Process

Welcome to Peak Performers! As a nonprofit, we’re also driven by the mission to create a new standard of employment for qualified applicants with a disability.

We’ve compiled some information to help you know what to expect at your interview. If you haven’t submitted your resume to be reviewed by our recruitment department, you can do so by clicking here or you can apply for one of our many openings.

After You Apply and Following Up

We follow up with candidates who align with a current opening or anticipated future opening. We typically follow up via some mixture of phone, email, and text messages. Candidates who are responsive to our recruiters tend to move through our process faster. And candidates who apply for positions that they’re qualified to do are more likely to get contacted.

We do not have a chance to talk to everyone who applies. However, you can always follow up on the status of your application by calling us at (512) 453-8833 and asking to speak with a recruiter or email recruiter@peakperformers.org.

The Interview

Since COVID-19, our interviews are done almost entirely via phone. Special accommodations, such as video chat or in-person interviews, may be requested on a case-by-case basis. After the initial interview with Peak Performers, you may be asked to interview with the client as well.

When appearing in person or on video chat, we recommend dressing to impress and being prepared for a professional interview. We are committed to using a fair and standard set of interview questions for each candidate. While we cannot guarantee job placement, our team works hard to create the best match for you and the agency clients we serve.

For all candidates, we recommend you thoroughly read the job description and reflect on your own past experiences and how they correlate with the position.

During our registration process, you’ll be asked if you have a disability or chronic medical condition. We understand that this can be sensitive information and many people are reluctant to discuss their disability or medical condition. The answer you provide is confidential. At our company, we recognize that disabilities have little to no bearing on an individual’s skills and capabilities. In fact, we give a job placement priority to qualified candidates with a chronic medical condition.

Skills Assessments and Application

Following your Peak interview, you may be asked to complete a set of computer-based skills assessments. These can be done on your own computer/technology and on your own time. These evaluations are important to help us find the right match for each position. If you’re not satisfied with your test results, we also offer free tutorials that can be completed at home. When you feel more confident, you can schedule to re-test and we’d be happy to use your best set of scores.

Our application can be completed completely online. You will be asked to complete an application prior to starting on an assignment.

If you need access to a computer, we recommend going to a local library or at a Workforce Solutions center.

Getting to Our Office

We are conveniently located in a commercial and residential development known as The Triangle, just off of North Lamar Boulevard. If you come at lunchtime, we’re auspiciously situated next door to Hopdoddy. Our office is directly across the street from a five-story parking garage. There is free, accessible parking on the street and in the garage. We’re also conveniently located near stops for several major bus routes, including the 1, 801 and 803.

You will probably only be asked to come into our office if you are selected to start an assignment and are local to the area. In these circumstances you may be asked to come in to complete I-9 paperwork.

Still looking for answers? Be sure to check our frequently asked questions.


7 questions to ask in your next job interview

What Should You Ask During an Interview?

Most job seekers understand the importance of asking good questions during the interview. Not only is it essential to come prepared with answers, but it’s also critical to ask the right questions. Your inquiries communicate a lot about who you are and what your expectations are for the position. By asking genuine and engaging questions, you’re showing the interviewer that you actually care about the position, the company, and how you might be able to contribute.

Think of the questions you ask as being statements that can help set you apart from competing candidates. Asking too soon about salary, for instance, could communicate to the interviewer that you’re primarily concerned with money. Your finances might be an honest concern, but leading with this question could also make you seem greedy or parsimonious. A question about teamwork, however, communicates that you are collaborative and ready to work well with others.

Think of the questions you ask as being statements that can help set you apart from competing candidates.

This past calendar year, our staff interviewed over a thousand candidates. Based on our staffing and recruiting experience in Austin, we’ve compiled some of our best-recommended questions to ask in your next interview:

How long have you worked here? What have you enjoyed most?

Poet and activist Maya Angelou is often attributed with saying, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” The same is true for job interviews. Asking personable questions can give you insights into the office culture and it can also make a lasting impression on the hiring manager.

What is the ideal candidate for this position?

This is a great open-ended question to help clarify any misunderstandings about the role. If the hiring manager says something you have not explicitly mentioned yet, this presents an excellent opportunity to fill in the gaps. This is your chance to tell them that you’re the person they’ve been looking for.

How would you describe the company’s culture?

Cultural fit is becoming more and more of a determining factor in the hiring process. Remember that the interview is also a way for you to determine whether or not you want to pursue the role. This question also provides an indirect way to find out more about overall employee wellness and benefits programs.

How does this company define and measure success?

Not only does this question help you understand the company’s expectations, it also implies that you are focused and determined to be successful.

I read ABC in XYZ about your company. Can you tell me more about that?

Most people know it’s important to research the company prior to your job interview. This question gives you an opportunity to show that you’ve done your homework without coming across as a know-it-all.

Do you have any specific concerns that I can address in further detail?

It might seem counterintuitive to highlight your own flaws in an interview. However, this question conveys a sense of confidence and could provide insight into what the hiring manager(s) might be thinking. It also gives you one last chance to clarify any apprehension regarding your candidacy.

What is the next step in the hiring process?

Consider this question as an opportunity to affirm your desire and enthusiasm for the position. It also might provide some insight into how many other candidates are being interviewed or when you should plan to send your follow-up message.

Keep in mind that these are only examples, and you should customize these questions based on the specifics of the position you’re considering. In general, focus on asking open-ended questions, and practice asking them out loud until you feel confident. Practice. Practice. Practice.

What to wear to your Austin interview

Tips for Dressing for your Interview

According to the Austin Business Journal, there are an estimated 157.2 people moving to our area every single day. Central Texas has been one of the fastest growing regions of the US for many years. More and more people are drawn to Austin’s growing economy, laid-back atmosphere and mild winter weather. We’re also proud to be ranked 2017’s best place to live by the ubiquitous assessors at US News & World Report. If you’re new to our beautiful city, we feel confident you’ll assimilate quickly.

With so many fresh job seekers from other parts of the country, we thought we’d offer our best recommendations on what to wear to your next job interview in our city. With over 27 years being Austin’s preferred employment agency, we’ve interviewed countless candidates and helped put thousands of people to work at State of Texas government agencies. We’ve seen it all, to say the least.

General Guidelines for Dressing for an Interview

For starters, here are a couple general guidelines to follow for any job interview:

  • Try not to stick out. We recommend dressing to look like you could start working the moment you walk in the door. If you’re interviewing for a construction job, for instance, bring your jeans and work boots. If you’re hoping to work in a courtroom, however, full suited attire might be more appropriate. If you’re still not sure what to wear, you might consider doing some subtle research into what other employees typically wear to work.
  • Wear what makes you feel good. When people look their best, they tend to have more confidence and self-assurance. While your personal image shouldn’t be a significant factor in an interview, it could communicate your attention to detail and give the hiring manager an idea of how you might represent the company to future clients or customers.

Keep in mind that there are only two seasons in Austin – hot and less hot. If you’re flying in for an interview, remember to check the weather report because precipitation and temperature can shift drastically in Central Texas. Another caveat is that most Austinites love air conditioning, especially when it’s 100 degrees outside. While you might find yourself sweating during the walk from your car, you might also be shivering while sitting in the company lobby.

Austin is also a city where it’s highly plausible to see people wearing flip-flops and shorts to a place of worship. Nowhere is this theme more salient than in the tech industry. It’s generally not a good idea to wear very formal attire for software development or information technology related positions.

That being said, most office or professional environments in Austin will go by the general rules of business casual.

For women, this usually means casual skirts, dresses, pants and blouses. Similarly, for men, this typically means a shirt with a collar tucked into dress pants with casual dress shoes. It is also common to see people in sweaters, vests and a combination of other seasonal accessories. Outside of certain formal industries, you’ll rarely find anyone wearing a suit in ATX.

Despite the stereotypes, leave your cowboy boots at home. And if you’re still stressing about what to wear, it’s usually okay to just ask.