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I'm the sole proprietor of an engineering consulting business and I've been working for five years, but without a company name. I've just traded under my personal name.

Now I've registered my business under a new name. I'm wondering how to show the time I spent without a company name on my resume. If it were just a name change I could write "Company Name B (formerly Company Name A)" but that seems a little odd in this case - "Company Name A (formerly John Doe)" ... ?

Edit: Note that this is not the same as the questions answered here and here, where the question is about how to, or whether to, represent contracting work on one's resume. And it's not quite the same as the answer here because that refers to changing from one company name to another company name.

I'm specifically concerned with how to deal with a name change from work done under my name to a company name.

Thanks in advance for any advice!

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  • Thanks for these links. They were informative, but I checked each of them and they don't quite address my specific scenario - changing from a company that operated under my personal name (John Doe) to a registered business name (ABC Consulting). – user1452228 Apr 16 '18 at 19:32
  • @user1452228 I think some of the links I provided are still relevant. What's important is that when you were operating as "John Doe" you were not a company; you were a freelancer or independent contractor. Your resume for those years should reflect that. – David K Apr 16 '18 at 19:49
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    I don't think there's a clear precedent for this and answers will probably be opinion-based. Personally, I'd probably list it as, "Company A (DBA John Doe prior to 2015)" if the actual content and structure of your work didn't change (only the name), or as two separate listings if there was a concrete change. – dwizum Apr 16 '18 at 19:55
  • thanks @dwizum! The DBA John Doe answer works well for me – user1452228 Apr 16 '18 at 20:06
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Your resume is your representation of your work experience and skills, for the purpose of marketing yourself to potential employers. It should be truthful, of course, but it should also be easy to understand. Your situation is a little outside the norm, so I don't think there is a precedent. As such, I'd format the resume with an emphasis on readability. This would lead me to arrange it based on the content of the work, not just on the name.

For instance, if the content and structure of the work did not change - just the name I would just list it as a single position, with an acknowledgement to the name change. Something along the lines of, Company A (DBA John Doe prior to 2015) with the relevant names and year.

If, however, the content or structure changed - for instance, with the name change you hired a team. Or, you switched from doing freelance work for other contracting firms to contracting directly with clients. Or you switched the actual subjects, i.e. the name reflected a change from one type of engineering to another. In any of those situations, I would list the work as two separate positions with appropriate descriptions/details for each, and no specific indication that they were related.

  • What does DBA mean? My first thought was Database Admin, but I now suspect "doing business as" – HorusKol Apr 16 '18 at 21:41
  • Yes, "doing business as" - it's the typical way to express a business name (or your own name as the business name) when you don't have a more formal structure in place, i.e. an LLC, partnership, corporation, etc. – dwizum Apr 17 '18 at 12:35
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    Okay, but I wouldn't use the abbreviation on a resume – HorusKol Apr 17 '18 at 12:49
  • Fine then, don't use it. :) In the context of it being attached to a business name I've never heard or seen anyone question what it meant (similarly, no one questions the LLC or Inc next to other company names). – dwizum Apr 17 '18 at 12:52

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