As a recruiter or employer, one of the biggest curve ball resumes that you are likely to receive in the current climate is from a business owner or self-employed person who has decided to move back into an in-house role.
On the face, they can appear to be an entrepreneurial, independent and self motivated candidate, but there are often question marks around self-employed applicants based around their ability to work under someone else, work effectively in a team, and to re-adapt to an in-house work environment that they have already rejected. Another question is whether they are leaving their business because it failed, suggesting a degree of incompetence.
Of course, it would be harsh to condemn all self-employed candidates, as of course many can effectively move back into in-house roles, but others may not be able to, and below I have described several signs that the self-employed candidate you see before you may make a terrible employee.
For starters, try looking at why they left the corporate environment in the first place. If this is more push (disengaged with current employer),than pull (excited by new opportunity), then this is of some concern, because this shows that the reasons that they left could have been down to an inability to work effectively in a structured corporate environment, which does not bode well for working in your organization.
So probe the candidates and if they appeared to leave voluntarily due to a seeming inability to work in teams/for a manager or to conform to company procedures, then they might not be a good team player in a corporate environment. If this is a trend that has occurred on other occasions, they may have maverick tendencies or make persistently bad choices which suggest they may not be a highly engaged employee.
Further, if they have worked as a sole trader – and can show little evidence of project collaboration with peers and multiple stakeholders while self-employed – there may be a chance that they have become more hardened into their own way of working and less able to adapt or conform to corporate culture than when they left work.
Also, if they struggle to be able to effectively answer behavioral questions around effective team working, influencing, persuading and conflict management in a corporate environment – either during their employment or self employment – you’d have to be very concerned as to how well they could adapt to team working.
Next, if they are vague about their accomplishments as a self-employed individual in that they cannot supply annual turnover figures for the last three years and a clear record of customer satisfaction, recommendations, and fulfilled projects, you’d have to be very concerned as to whether they were an effective performer full-stop.
And, if it becomes clear that the reasons they are moving back in-house are due to a failure of the business, and those reasons are due to a lack of skills that you would need them to also display in-house, then there is a very strong chance they will make a terrible employee.
So, putting all this together, if you see all these signs and tendencies emerging within your self-employed job applicant – subject to further scrutiny – there’s a good chance they might make a terrible employee. This does not mean they have to be written off entirely because if they are exceptional, you may be able to forge a standalone style role for them within the organization that plays to their entrepreneurial, self motivational and personally empowered strengths.