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8(a) Application - How the SBA Uses Your Resume

The SBA 8(a) Certification is extremely valuable for small business owners. The preference the certification provides its’ holders boosts the average 8(a) firm’s sales from $5 to $7 million annually.

The SBA requires a copy of the owner’s resume as part of the application process. Most applicants submit a copy of their resume viewing the SBA request as “a formality”. This assumption is incorrect, which can lead to an application running into problems due to inconsistencies between the resume and the rest of the application.

Resume Basics
The resume must be up to date for each prior employer the primary applicant worked. The resume also must have the company name, job title, job duties, and dates of employment. The resume should go back ten years or more and include all education and certifications. The resume should highlight information the SBA may find relevant in evaluating the application.

Resume In-Depth
Here are some of the areas the SBA will focus on while reviewing an applicant’s resume:

Potential for Success - Does the applicant have the skills necessary to be successful in completing federal contracts?

Resume Needs to Meet Readers Reasonable Expectations

Example of a Problem Resume:  An applicant has been a school teacher for fifteen years, she begins working for a construction company as an office manager. Eight months after beginning her job as the office administrator she purchases 51% of the construction firm and applies for the 8(a) Certification. The problem with this scenario is that the applicant does not have enough relevant business experience to run the firm. This resume without additional information showing additional experience/clarity to the SBA will be a failure point for the application.

Example of a Plausible Resume:  The applicant begins as a laborer without an educational background in the industry, holding that position for two years. The applicant then gets promoted to a foreman for three years, then promoted to project manager for two years, and then purchases 51% ownership in the firm. Even though the applicant might not have an applicable college degree, the resume is logical and would meet a reasonable person’s expectations.

Resume In-depth with 2-year Waiver
Under the condition that the applicant is applying with a waiver of the two years in-business requirement, the applicant’s resume will be highly scrutinized in terms of educational background and industry experience. The evidence will also be used to assess the “likelihood of success” of the business in completing federal contracts.

Resume In-depth with the Purchase of a Business
The SBA will review the buyer’s resume to establish that the new owner has enough industry experience to determine if the business is likely to be successful going forward.

Control of the Business
Certifications the business owner holds should be included as part of the applicant’s resume. The SBA will be looking to answer the following questions:

1. Does the 8(a) applicant have all the business certifications required to run the firm?


2. Are the certifications necessary to run the business in the name of another individual? Example - A licensed surveyor, a contractor’s license for a construction firm, or being a CPA as the owner of an accounting firm.

3. Partial Presumed Group - If the applicant is not 100% blood heritage from a presumed group, the SBA will review the applicant’s resume to determine if the person holds themselves out to be a member of the social group they are applying for 8(a) under. Belonging to social groups proves the applicant holding themselves out to be part of the presumed group will be a factor to prove social bias. Example - A person with 50% Hispanic lineage who belongs to a Hispanic American Business Owners Group provides this evidence to the SBA.

4. Good Moral Character – The SBA will reconcile the applicant’s W2s to the resume to determine if the applicant’s resume is accurate. Deficiencies or errors in the application could be used by the SBA regarding “good moral character.” There should be no such inaccuracies in the resume.

5. Negative Control Issues – The SBA will compare the applicant’s employment history with names listed as the applicant firm’s customer and supplier lists. If the applicant was employed by either a large customer or a large supplier as part of the applicant’s past employment, a negative control issue could become evident to the SBA.

The Resume can become a focal point for any of the issues stated above, therefore should be critically evaluated before presenting anything to the SBA. If you are wondering about a potential problem with your resume, I always recommend contacting an industry expert such as ez8a, Advance 8a or Government Marketing. None of the aforementioned charge for an initial consultation.


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