Is Returning to Corporate Cause for Suspicion?

I wonder how many self-employed people have experienced being stared down by a cautious interviewer asking, “Why on earth would you want to go back?”

Being independent certainly has enormous benefits. It’s very difficult to put a price on freedom, flexibility, working when and with whom you choose, and doing all that without having to get out of your pyjamas!

For employees yearning for something more rewarding, it must seem significantly more appealing than cubicles, suits, and a regular reimbursement inflated to cushion the misery or disappointment of an unsatisfying role.

In my experience, those who question the objectives of someone who desires to return to the corporate world are often those most eager to escape.

Blurred lines
For the benefit of any sceptical hiring managers and recruiters, the irony here is that we never really left.

The majority of us work for large organisations, have targets and deadlines, and must continually add benefit, ROI, and prove our worth. And quite rightly so.

At the same time, an increasing number of organisations offer remote or agile working, hot-desking, job sharing, career breaks, and many more flexible options to support and complement the work/life balance.

The line between the two becomes fuzzier every day.

A life less stressful
As hard as it may be to believe by those entrenched in commercial furore, corporate life often operates at a far lower personal stress level.

Consider this. Anyone running a company of any size must perform every business function to near-perfection or else risk failure. While wrapped in the semi-secure blanket of employment, it’s possible to be so blinded by the overwhelming desire to shrug off commercial constraints that the consequences of working without any support aren’t truly recognised. The reality is that one day you can be in a management role with countless people to call on to support your every move, the next you are entirely alone.

You have until your bank balance depletes to become an expert in an incalculable number of functions that include sales, IT, business development, accountancy, marketing, social media, purchasing, and presenting. Somehow you also have to find time to do whatever it was you left full time employment to do too.

Despite super-human accomplishment, coupled with the ability to balance multiple challenging projects whilst remaining constantly self-motivated and upbeat, many corporates still often appear to regard the self-employed as lesser beings.

What are the benefits of employing an entrepreneur?
In a bizarre twist of fate, many corporate businesses recognise they need to become more entrepreneurial. Yet studies show big companies have their reservations about hiring proven innovative independents and entrepreneurs. Maybe it’s the assumption those with ‘business owner’ on their CV are unmanageable, rule-breaking mavericks who challenge the restrictions of processes, procedures, and hierarchies? But that could be the case with anyone regardless of their employment status.

By far the biggest benefits of employing former business owners must be the unparalleled level of experience and quality connections they have gained during their time being self-employed.

Independents are almost always expert networkers as this is the main way they find work and generate income. Regardless of their role, there is the real possibility they could bring new business with them in the form of loyal customers.

Taking the plunge
I would encourage anyone to go it alone during some point in their career. It’s likely you will learn more about yourself and business in one year than most would during a lifetime of employment. But I also call upon corporates to worry less about the person’s motives and consider all they would gain from recruiting someone to their team with invaluable experience and heightened insight.

Unlike those on the inside who may be waiting impatiently for the first opportunity to flee, we have been there and done that. Armed with all our educated understanding, we are able to make the enlightened decision to return.