How do you get a job after you close your startup?

I have been a CEO of my startup for a few years, and before that I worked as a consultant.  I am tired of all the heavy lifting and want to get a job but find that even though I have a lot of high level talent and skills, HR folks seemed to be scared to hire me because they worry that I won’t be a team player or want to be part of a larger company.

How do I get over that barrier?  And at the same time, how do I personally adjust from being my own boss to being an employee?

  • Your post contains the answer. When I read it, I know HR folks don’t worry about your team player skills or your willing to integrate a large company. Maybe that’s what they say, but it is certainly not the truth. It is only the easy thing to say. Your problem is this one: “I am tired of all the heavy lifting and want to get a job”. HR want people who love heavy liftings, they hate people who just like to find a well paid and take-it-easy 9 to 5 job.

    There are many good reasons for a large company to hire an ex startup CEO. You have to figure it out and put it in your resume. Your experience and ability for heavy lifting is a key asset. Use it, particularly if you don’t like it.

  • You say you were a consultant. Use that to get you yiur full time job. At almost every consultant gig I went into that question always pops up. Would you consider working here? I guess it depends on the role you’re looking for. Tech roles are very easy to land FT.

  • What about incorporating and being a contractor? Many large corporates have ‘head count targets’ they have to scale back to, but there’s still work to be done. So slotting yourself in as ‘variable labor’ might hit the best of both worlds?

    I’ve seen a few of my startup friends who had to shut go down this route.

  • OP here- you might be right that it was the easiest thing to say (that they are concerned about me fitting into a corporate structure), but it was also a concern they expressed to the headhunter before they even met me. I have never had a boss and I think that it worries employers.

    About the “heavy lifting” I can bring that to the table on a new job but I won’t. It was very unhealthy for me. I am burnt out. Maybe that is not a great attitude for seeking employment but I would rather have a job that had lower expectations than walk into a high pressured position.

    • I know what you mean. Three months back I was in exactly the same situation. CEO and founder, ran two businesses, and never was truly an employee.

      I tried contracting, but unless you are technical or a designer, you’ll end up being a c-suite consultant for startups. And at least where I am from, most startups don’t pay for this sort of advice or involvement.

      So I ended up taking a c-suite job in a small but relaxed startup. Not very fond of their relaxed attitude, it almost irks me. But at the same time I was also burnt out like you and still am to some extend. I guess I’ll need to do this for another few months. But then it’s back to founder’s land to me I’m afraid. Being an employee has its perks but also its irks of not being the main driver of everything. So you’ll have to settle for having it “their” way. It’s also going to be unsettling for you to have idle time. I never had idle time before, and the first few weeks I got really paranoid about being laid off soon because I’m not doing 120%. Luckily, this is just the norm… a norm I wasn’t used to.

  • Being a former CEO means that you can apply for VP or C-suite positions and your experience and leadership skills are a bonus.

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