resume

You’ve spent nearly a year of your life working to create a startup. You’ve changed all of your profiles to include your position at the startup. You’ve even updated your resume to include your new venture. But then the worst happens: your startup goes belly-up.

Though you spent a significant amount of time working at your startup, that time doesn’t have to be a complete wash in your future job search. Instead, you can spin that experience positively on your resume to land another job. Whether you were a co-founder, a social media coordinator, or IT manager at a failed startup, here are four ways to turn that experience into a plus on your resume.

Figure out what you’ve learned from your failure

When Jobscan’s founder James Hu failed in his first startup, he turned his failure into a learning experience. That’s your first step. First, figure out the reasons your business failed. Next, consider what you could have done differently to have made the venture a success. Once you’ve made your list, you can decide how to articulate what you’ve learned in your resume, cover letter, and interview.

Include your accomplishments in your resume

In every good resume, you want to list accomplishments you achieved for each position, rather than just noting your daily job duties. These are called accomplishment statements. When listing your failed venture, also list what you did accomplish and focus on the positives. For example, you could say “Grew customer base by 10 percent over four months” or “Trained five employees on JavaScript.” Focusing on what you accomplished – rather than ruminating on what you didn’t – will make your startup a positive on your resume.

Incorporate soft skills into your resume

Normally, soft skills are a no-no when it comes to resumes. However, if you know how to use them, they can help turn your failed venture into something positive. For example, if you’re flexible and creative, incorporate these soft skills under bullet points beneath your startup position on your resume. The trick is to combine your soft skills with hard skills (like the ones below) to prove you possess these qualities. For example, you might say, “Flexible: managed 20 employees at 10 workplaces across the Seattle metropolitan area.”

Use measurable, hard skills, like the ones in this list, to camouflage your soft skills.
Use measurable, hard skills, like the ones in this list, to camouflage your soft skills.

Demonstrate you’re a good fit for the job

More and more employers these days see your work life as a “career jungle gym” rather than a career ladder. You move all over the map, not just in a straight, upward line. That’s why employers will be willing to give you a job, if you demonstrate that you want the job and are a good fit for it too. To demonstrate your fit for the position, start by scanning your resume and the job posting through Jobscan. Jobscan ensures the keywords on your resume match the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to make sure the keywords match accurately. This kind of tailored resume also demonstrates that you really want this job in particular; you’re not just blindly sending out dozens of cookie-cutter resumes.

Your work with a failed venture can demonstrate positive — and unusual — skills, like comfort with ambiguity,  flexibility, and a willingness to take risks. These are qualities employers desire, making your work at a failed company truly look good on a resume.

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