Career Transition

Positioning a Failed Startup into a Positive Experience on your Resume

startup resume

According to a June 2014 article appearing in The Guardian, most startups (as many as 90%) and new business launches fail. Of course with no risk comes no reward, which is why it’s hard to blame folks for trying.

When a startup venture doesn’t pan out, positioning this experience with the right wording can help pave a return to the relative security of Corporate America, and impress hiring managers, recruiters and decision makers along the way.

Multiple Hats

When it comes to staffing, it is tough to find a company leaner than a startup or new business. As a result, most entrepreneurs or employees of new ventures wind up wearing many hats. From finance to HR, PR to sales, operations to administration – employees at startups and new businesses do it all.

Outline for the reader that your ability to support all aspects of a company’s core operations proved integral to its existence, and suddenly you have showcased your skill diversity.

Order from Chaos

Those who establish a company or who are amongst the first employees hired often face a “Wild West” atmosphere that lacks continuity because everyone is literally flying by the seat of their pants.

However, once the dust starts to settle and you have the opportunity to transform chaos into order, you have created an infrastructure!

Highlight your talent for establishing controls and processes by noting your efforts at creating a sales, marketing, communications, operations or finance foundation from the ground up. These skills often align with executive leadership roles in Corporate America.


Many entrepreneurs will attest to the excitement of working in a startup environment because every day is different, and you never know what to expect from moment to moment.

Survival in this day-to-day environment requires a talent for remaining flexible in an ambiguous work environment – a highly desirable job trait!

Influencing and Buy-in

Obtaining funding is often a critical component to getting a company off the ground or to the next level. The skills vital to obtaining financial support are often the same needed to succeed in sales and even project management where gaining buy-in from stakeholders is paramount to success.

If your compelling presentations and persuasive cases succeeded in getting some much-needed cash, be sure to note this success.


It takes a certain amount (okay a lot!) of guts to take a risk with a new business venture. This same trait is admired and respected by hiring managers looking for a leader to build a department from the ground up or fix one that is failing or underperforming.

Be sure your branding paragraph includes verbiage that explains how you are a builder of teams and organizations, and the startup experience suddenly aligns perfectly with your skill set.

Translate Failures into Success

Entrepreneurial endeavors often don’t work out. Positioning the experience, however, is a matter of wording and perspective. With some self-reflection and introspection, it is easy to reposition experiences acquired and lessons learned for that next role.

About the Author

Virginia Franco, NCRW, CPRW is the founder of Virginia Franco Resumes which offers customized executive resume and LinkedIn profile writing services for the 21st century job seeker.