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How do you address a failed small business startup in your resume and interview?

Written By

Cynthia Funkhouser

Expert Resume Writer & Editor

Briefly Speaking

Find out how to address a failed startup company on your resume and handle it if the interview asks
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Always be sure to emphasize the positive in your resume. If you held the position at the failed small business startup more than ten years ago and don’t need to include it to demonstrate skills and achievements you can’t show elsewhere in the resume, you can definitely consider leaving the position off altogether. Keep in mind that anything you include in your resume that does not directly contribute to the strength of your candidacy detracts from it. Cluttering your resume with excess material will only take away from your presentation.

If you decide you need to include the failed small business startup, you should only mention the company’s closing if not doing so might make it appear as though you were let go by the firm or if your tenure was unusually short. In this case, the best way to handle the situation is simply to include a brief parenthetical note in the heading for the specific job. For example, you can write simply “Acme Inc. (company closed May 2005)” in the heading for the specific job on your resume.

If you do include the listing, be sure to take extra care in preparing your list of achievements at the failed small business startup. Despite the failure of the company, you can still mine your experiences there for your personal accomplishments and evidence of your strengths. Did you find ways to impact the bottom line? Did you boost sales in some way? Did your propose effective ideas to save on costs? Did you bring clients or business to the firm? What did customers or colleagues say about your performance? Distilling the high points from your experience will help to keep your resume positive and strong, and employers will respond accordingly.

During the interview, you will also want to do everything in your power to present yourself in a positive way. If the employer questions you directly about the failure of the small business startup, don’t blame others or make excuses. Emphasize your competence and successes as much as possible and mention the contributions and the hard work of the team as a whole. Discuss those goals that you did meet and the ways in which the team was effective. Always be gracious. An interview is not the time to vent your feelings about your former colleagues or air old frustrations. By sticking to the positive and keeping the focus on your strengths, you will always appear to your best advantage.

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