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I left my software engineering job ~1 year ago to build a SaaS company with 2 other co-founders. We built a professional product, had customers, and earned some decent press/marketing, but I've decided to move on.

I'm currently looking for a new software engineering job, and I've received some raised eyebrows when they see that I am a "co-founder" on my resume. I suspect there is hesitation about whether I'll be able to exit my current company and focus on a new job, or perhaps they are thinking that I am overestimating my abilities as "co-founder", or perhaps they think it's a resume filler / fake job.

Of course, I am prepared to focus on a new job 100%, have been working hard on software engineering over the past year, and I'm not looking to be a boss/manager. I am looking for a mid-level software engineering job, so I wonder if I should omit the fact that I'm a co-founder on my resume.

Ideally, someone would understand that I am driven for new challenges, and that I've had a heavy engineering focus at the company I founded. But given the concerns, perhaps I should play it safe by omitting "co-founder" from my resume?

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    What do they say / do you make you think that? Just some other perspectives...if you're applying to a job similar to the one you owned a company for, that may seem kinda strange. Also, is it clear on your resume that it's a legit company? Do you talk them through what you do? Maybe they think it's just something you put on your resume / a fake job. – JustBlossom Sep 27 '19 at 22:35
  • Interesting - it could be that the quizzical looks have been "fake job" suspicion. I think that can be resolved if they look at our website, which includes customer testimonials, links to our customers, and links to some positive press articles for our product. Is that enough to dispel their doubts? Thus I wonder if it's best to avoid the whole issue and change my title from "co-founder and engineer" to just "software engineer". – niceEarthling Sep 27 '19 at 23:00
  • The quizzical looks aren't from everyone, and they are rather subtle, but are something like "I see you are a co-founder... hmm... can you tell me more about why you are looking for a job?". – niceEarthling Sep 27 '19 at 23:03
  • I usually say something like: "I've decided to move on because I miss working on an engineering team, and I would like to spend more time developing my skills as an engineer, instead of running a business." And I might add that our business isn't going as well as planned, without going into too much detail because I want to keep it positive. – niceEarthling Sep 28 '19 at 1:53
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    Another possibility for "what they're thinking" is that having been boss of your own company / entrepreneur, will it be a cultural 'fit' for you to return to reporting to a 'manager', having to abide by some company policies dictated by 'someone else', etc? I haven't worked with co-founders of tech companies as such, but I have worked with and interviewed people who had set up on their own and then for whatever reason wanted to return to standard employment. I didn't look down on anyone for this, but more often than not I found they had a sort of 'more independent' attitude. Is that good? :) – seventyeightist Sep 28 '19 at 18:40
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I had Owner of a small business on my Resume, recently. I was doing technical writing on computer security. I was able to secure a job without any problem. Some people might see it as negative, but so what. Do you really want to work at a company where the managers are scoffing at the great things you have done? Find the job where the people there truly appreciate what you have accomplished.

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  • I upvoted. But, I also believe, the statement "Find the job where the people there truly appreciate what you have accomplished" depends a lot on the country. For example, in countries like India, being a cofounder for 2 years or so before the first job out of college can mean a salary loss of 2-4x. – Prasad Raghavendra Oct 5 '19 at 6:47

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