Climb the Corporate Ladder by Debunking Myths

career coach, connecticut, linda van valkenburgh

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

You work hard. You show up to work on time. You volunteer for special projects. You offer assistance to others on your team. You do all of these things and yet you still get passed over for the promotion.
Despite being qualified for the leadership position, you may be allowing common myths to stagnate your climb up the corporate ladder. If this has happened to you, then it’s time to face the myths head-on.
Tackle these common myths and open the door to the future of your career as a leader.
Myth: You Can’t be Vulnerable
All too often, those in leadership positions think that they must stand firm and hold their ground. If they change direction, accept fault, or follow the ideas of others, then they are showing weakness.
The true sign of an effective leader is someone who can acknowledge that they don’t have all of the answers. They’re receptive to their team and have confidence that they have a group of capable people around them.
By showing that you can recognize good ideas and work well with others, you’ll prove that you’re ready to move up the corporate ladder. Being a leader isn’t about having all of the answers. It’s about recognizing them in others and implementing them.
Myth: Leaders Need to be Fierce, Distant, and Omnipotent
Think about your previous leaders and management. Have you enjoyed working with a leader who was distant and cold?
When someone becomes a leader, they feel the need to separate themselves from those they manage. If they aren’t careful, they distance themselves too far and become distant and unapproachable.
If you want to climb the corporate ladder you need to show that you’re productive and that people want to work with you. Do this by remaining approachable and friendly. You don’t need to go for drinks at happy hour, but you can take a moment to show interest in your team’s lives.
Myth: You Need to Be an Extrovert
Most of us think of extroverts as someone confident and social. Introverts are thought of as shy and less willing to talk with others. This isn’t quite correct, despite how common this way of thinking is.
In reality, extroverted leaders reach out and communicate with others when it comes to working through ideas. Introverts tend to be more introspective and work through problems and ideas on their own. You can be a good leader either way, even though most assume that extroverts will perform better.
If you consider yourself an introvert, you can overcome this myth by using an extrovert’s tactics. Once you do your independent thinking, reach out to your fellow team members to discuss and collaborate. This will encourage others to think of you as an extrovert.
Myth: Great Leaders are Born, Not Made
This myth is just plain wrong. No one is born with the skills necessary to effectively lead a team.
You can overcome this myth by focusing on the qualities that make someone a great leader. Put in the hard work that’s required to develop the skills needed. Then showcase these skills in your current position.
People will assume you’ve always had leadership qualities. You don’t need to correct them in their assumption.
Myth: There Is Only One Leadership Style
Early on in your career, you probably learned a few managerial techniques that worked. They’ve stuck with you through the years, and you’ve always depended on them. The problem is those few techniques won’t work in all situations.
Find a management style that works for your personality, blends well with your team, and creates a culture of positivity and productivity. Keep in mind that the leadership style you use for a group of 10 may not be the style you can use for a team of 100.

Let’s get to work!
If you are ready to move your executive career forward contact me today at 203-323-9977 or

Finding the Balance: Your Career and Family

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

How many hours a week do you spend working? Don’t forget to include the time you spend answering phone calls, texts, and emails when you are at home. Almost half of American workers routinely work 50 hours or more every week.
Working all of those hours can start to negatively affect both your health and family life. But how do you balance your personal life with your desire to excel in your career?
We have a few tips to help you achieve the perfect work and home life balance.

Unplug from Technology
Advancements in technology have done impressive things for collaboration and connectivity. Except that it also has brought an expectation of constant availability. Unfortunately, this means that the workday never ends.
Turn off work notifications while spending time with your family. Constant notifications from work will fuel an underlying feeling of stress and take your attention away from your family. It prevents you from being in the moment and mentally present.
If you can’t completely turn off, set hard rules for when you spend time with family and when you work from home. Then dedicate 100% of your attention during that time. Your work product and family relationships will improve thanks to your mental focus.

Let go of Being Perfect
You may feel pressured to be perfect in everything you do. Do not give in to this pressure. You are human, and you will make mistakes. The key to success isn’t being perfect; it’s identifying a problem or failure, presenting a solution, and moving forward with the issue corrected.
If you continue to hold on to perfectionist tendencies, they will become unhealthy. You will eventually experience burnout. So let go of being perfect and instead focus on excellence.

Limit Time Wasters
You may feel that you need to work the extra hours to get everything required of you done. Address this by taking a look at your day to day activities in the office. Eliminate negative influences that take time away from your important tasks.
If emails or surfing the internet tend to be your downfall, then establish rules. This could be an app on your laptop that tracks your time and limits your usage.
By limiting the time you waste at work, you’ll become more productive and produce better quality work. Not only will this reduce your at-home work time, but it will get you noticed at work. This will help you advance your career by developing a reputation as someone who gets things done.

Change Your Home Routine
Sometimes we fall into a routine that doesn’t work, but we don’t realize it until we take a moment to evaluate things. You may find that specific tasks and duties that you have at home are causing you stress. Work with your family to change your routine to reduce this stress.
By not worrying about what you have to do at home, you can focus on your work tasks better. This helps separate your thoughts and allow you to excel at work.

Consider Different Avenues for Growth
Sometimes the future we thought we wanted doesn’t work with our current life situation. This doesn’t mean our dreams of advancing our career are over. Instead, it means that it’s time to get creative. Don’t allow yourself to develop tunnel vision where you chase the next promotion at your current company.
Consider instead obtaining higher profile clients or more visible projects. Think about ways you can advance your career in a nontraditional way. You may find that by prioritizing family from the start, you find a company that agrees with the valuation. Now you can advance your career with a company that supports your desire for a balanced life between work and home.

Let’s get to work!
If you are ready to move your executive career forward contact me today at 203-323-9977 or

From the Home to the Office, You Have Skills

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

After taking a break from your professional career to raise your children, you are ready to re-enter the workforce. You aren’t alone; 63% of married mothers would prefer to work part-time or not at all.
Re-entering the workforce is a major life change and will be a challenge. A positive attitude and confidence will go a long way in convincing hiring managers to give you a chance.
There are a few other things you can do to increase your attractiveness. Before you know it, you’ll be mastering the board room again.

Prepare to Answer Questions
There is no getting around it. Hiring managers will want to know about the break in your employment. They will also have a few questions for you.
Know why you want to go back to work. This needs to go beyond financial. Having a solid reason will motivate you and instill confidence in potential employers that you are serious. Here are some reasons other than financial to help you get started.

  • Looking for increased responsibility
  • A need to interact with and help others
  • A desire to learn more and share your knowledge
  • Apply and develop your skillset
  • Contribute to society

You also need to know what you want to do. This will help you find and target the right opportunities. It will also help you tailor your resume to suit your goal position.

Update Your Resume
Just because you haven’t been in the workforce for the past few years doesn’t mean that you haven’t gained or developed skills. It is now your job to identify those skills and show how they can translate to your future position. Don’t leave it up to hiring managers to make these connections for you.
When writing your resume, structure it to focus on your skills. Use a combination format where you focus on your skills at the top and list your professional experience at the bottom. This way, you aren’t hiding anything but also staying focused on what is important.

Identify Transferable Skills
Accentuate your transferable skills. The skills you have to be a successful mom are similar to the skills you need to be successful in a professional setting. 95% of professional females think raising children has provided them with skills they now use in the workplace.
This could include communication, multitasking, or logistics. Show employers that you can effectively communicate by attentively listening and expressing yourself clearly and concisely.
Demonstrate that you can multitask by providing specific examples in a professional manner. This does not mean giving your mom duties a professional sounding title.

Beef up Your Skillset
If you are finding that your resume is still a bit light, then it is time to start taking extra steps. This way you can shore up your skills and make yourself competitive in the job applicant market.

This is the easiest way to gain skills outside of the home that can easily translate to a professional career. Consider the skills that are needed for your desired position and volunteer somewhere that also uses them.
For instance, if you are interested in a career in the medical industry, then volunteer at a hospital or nursing home. You could volunteer at your child’s school, or your church may have opportunities.

Take a Class
Some skills won’t translate. If your goal position requires proficiency in particular software, then it may help to take a class. This will allow you to become familiar and reduce the amount of on the job training you require.

Attend a Conference
How can you hit the ground running in a career if you aren’t familiar with the current industry? Attending a professional conference can help you learn about current industry events. It can also help you network and increase your professional connections.
By remaining confident and showcasing your skills, you will be able to re-enter the workforce.

Let’s get to work!
If you are ready to move your executive career forward contact me today at 203-323-9977 or

Be the Person Everyone Wants to Work With

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

Think about the best boss you’ve worked for in your career. What made them so great? This person likely created a positive and supportive working environment that encouraged you to learn and grow.
While this sounds like it should be easy to accomplish, only 33% of employees feel engaged and happy with their work. You can change this statistic at your company by changing the culture.
Be someone that others want to work with. Your positive attitude and example will make others want to work with you.

Master the BLT
No, we aren’t referring to the delicious sandwich. The BLT factor stands for believability, likability, and trustworthiness. Your professional reputation should embody these three traits. That way, when people think of whom they want to trust to get the job done, your name is at the front of their mind.
While the ability to get the job done is important, people are more likely to pick the friendly person over the less cordial. So give yourself the edge by not only having the skills but also the personality.

Have Empathy
You don’t have to agree with someone’s opinion to empathize with them. You can thoughtfully consider their feelings while politely disagreeing with their stance. By respecting others and trying to find common ground, you create a positive and proactive work environment.

Be Reliable
When people prove to be dependable, they become the first call when an important project comes up. To further your career, you want to be the first name people think of. This way, you get the most important projects that arise in the future.

Be Honest
Integrity is a rare commodity in the business world today. All successful relationships require a certain amount of honesty, though.
Use your best judgment to determine when transparency is appropriate. Sometimes, owning a mistake or missed deadline will garner more respect and understanding than trying to deceive.

Engage with Others
Pay attention to your body language when you communicate. Your crossed arms or hands in your pockets indicate that you are mentally shut off. Instead, make eye contact, nod in understanding, and mirror the other person’s body language.
Show that you are engaged by asking sincere and relevant questions. Make the questions open-ended so that they require more than one word to answer. Then actively listen to the answer. By showing genuine interest, you’ll earn appreciation and respect from those around you.

Be Openminded
Everyone is afraid of rejection. If you exhibit open-mindedness, people will be more likely to want to work with you. Your accepting nature and kindness will put them at ease.
Don’t immediately judge other’s ideas based on your preconceived notions. Consider where the other person is coming from before you react and respond.

Ace Your First Impression
We all make immediate judgments when we first meet people. Chances are you’ve made a few bad first impressions in your career. While they can be tough to overcome, you can breathe easy.
According to a Yale study, humans want to forgive. That means you can get a second chance at a first impression.
The first thing to do is self-evaluate. Acknowledge the misstep the next time you are around that person. Don’t try too hard, just honestly address the issue and demonstrate your true intentions moving forward.
You can also use this misstep to learn for future first impressions. This way, you don’t make the same mistake twice.

Follow the Golden Rule
All of these tips can be summed up in one simple rule. Treat others how you want to be treated. By doing this, you earn the respect of those around you as someone they can trust, respect, and depend on.
These are all qualities that people want to be around during work or otherwise.

Let’s get to work!
If you are ready to move your executive career forward contact me today at 203-323-9977 or

Treat Your Career as a Business

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

How many different jobs have you had since graduating from college? If you’re like most people, you probably have never really counted. For most people, they have 10 different positions before they are 40. This number is only set to grow for those coming into the workplace. 

Develop Your Survival Skills 

Given that you will change careers so many times, one of the most important survival skills you can develop is your job search and career management skills. You already know you have the skills to do the job you are hired to do, but this means nothing if you can’t land the job. 

Take control of your life and career by acting with the same objectivity, forethought, and self-interest that the company you work for uses. It’s nothing personal; the business is going to act in its best interest and so should you. 

Work on your networking skills. Attend events and push yourself to speak to at least one new person. Then develop your connections. This way, you have a network of people you can reach out to when the time comes to switch careers. 

Don’t just update your resume. Modernize it. Resumes today look entirely different than they did ten or twenty years ago. It isn’t enough to just update your resume with your latest position. You need to look at your resume with a critical eye and update the style and format. 

Treat Yourself like a Business 

You work for a successful company, so why not take a few lessons and apply them to your career? That way, you continue to grow professionally. 

Research and Development 

Successful businesses continually identify and develop new marketable products and services. So why aren’t you doing that for yourself? Pay attention to industry and market trends. Then develop your skills to fit the changing needs of the industry. 

Marketing and Public Relations 

Just like companies, you need to manage your professional reputation and brand. Take on opportunities that can increase your credibility. This will increase your visibility within the professional community and make you a voice of authority. 

By developing your professional reputation, it will be easier to change careers to a new company when the time comes. 


When was the last time you evaluated your marketable skills? You need to develop a list of skills that you can sell to both your company and any other you intend to move to. 

Strategic Planning 

You should have short and long term goals for your future. Develop a career plan for the next 1-2 years, 5 years, and 10 years. What strategic career moves will you make over this timeline? 

Create an actionable plan that could involve moving within your current company or moving to a new one. Create alternatives so that you are never caught by surprise. That way, you are never caught off guard and end up in a panicked situation by an unforeseen event. 


Invest in your future by making wise financial choices. Don’t take on an opportunity that won’t deliver a satisfactory return on investment. That way, you always move into a position that will improve your financial situation in the long run.

Certifications and Courses 

One way to show your skills and professional growth is through obtaining certifications. We can help evaluate your professional development and recommend courses and certifications that can you help take control of your career. 

Sign up for your customized career package today, and let’s get started with your professional development. 

Let’s get to work! 


If you are ready to work on your professional development, then contact me today at 203-323-9977 or

Is Your Social Media Working for You?

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

How many social media accounts do you have? It’s probably more than you think. The average person has seven social media accounts. If you are under the age of 34, that number rises to eight. Even those over 55 have four to five.
Now, with that many different platforms to communicate on, what are you doing to leverage them for your success? Social media is more than pictures of food and videos of cute kittens. These days people use social media to further their own careers.
Let’s go over a few ways you can make your social media work for you.

The first step is to focus your efforts. With seven different profiles to maintain, chances are you haven’t updated some of them in a while. Start by picking two or three and update them regularly. This will give you an up to date and active profile that people will want to engage with.

Choose the Right Platform
You’ve probably noticed by now that certain platforms work better for some things than others. For example, Instagram is great for images, but not so good at text.
Choosing the right social media platform for your message will mean you reach a receptive audience. Since you want to build your professional personal brand, LinkedIn is a great place to start.
People go there expecting to network professionally. In fact, 80% of B2B leads on social media come from LinkedIn.

Don’t Lose Your Personality
You want to be professional, but you don’t want to lose your personality completely. People are more likely to connect and engage with you when you show a bit of personality.
Just be careful not to go too far when expressing yourself. Plenty of careers have ended based on a single tweet or post that was done in bad taste.

Add Value
The lazy way of using social media is to find content that someone else has already created and post it. You won’t get the most out of your social media this way. People know that you aren’t adding value or anything unique.
Instead, develop your posts to be original content. This should be easy considering you are writing about yourself and what you do. Now you have something original to say that will add value to your followers’ lives.

Choose Shared Content Wisely
I know I just finished telling you the importance of creating your own content. But strategically sharing another’s content is important too. You just need to choose what you share wisely.
If there is someone you want to build a relationship with, sharing their original work will help you with this. The same goes for your well-established contacts. Sharing content from people you have a direct connection with can help you build your relationships while also adding content to your social feed.

Start Generating Leads
Use your social media to generate leads. One way to do this is by posting your original content, but put the bulk of it behind a gateway. Create a guide on how to accomplish something. Put it on your website behind a gateway that requires a phone number or email.

Make Your Social Media Work for You
By making your social media work for you, you turn what was once a distraction from productivity into a useful business tool. Start by focusing your efforts on one platform and then build out from there.
Make it your goal to increase your reach and engagement so that you can improve upon your brand awareness.

Let’s get to work!
If you are ready to move your executive career forward contact me today at 203-323-9977 or

What do you want to be when you grow up?


By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

Many of us begin our careers thinking we know exactly what we want to be.
As we engage in our work, we slowly begin to realize that what we were looking for cannot be found in the job we have taken on.
Now, this is not always the case, but if you do not have absolute clarity around what you want to do and achieve, you can easily become a wandering generality, coasting along until there is no time left to decide.
What was is that you wanted to be when you grew up again?
If you are not sure, it is time to do a bit of reflection and self-exploration.

Do You Know What You Want?
If you already know what you want out of your career, that’s fine, and there is no need to delve any deeper.
However, if you feel like you lost sight of your goals, you are not passionate about the work you are doing anymore, or you are in a rut, now would be a good time to consider your future.
Sometimes, it can be hard to get present to what you truly want out of your career. Seeking out the help of a coach or mentor during this process would be wise, as they can shed some light on your blind spots.
Before you can clarify and identify your next steps, first you will need to determine what you would like to achieve.

Are You On The Right Career Path?
You may have started down a path thinking it would eventually get you to where you want to go.
As you started taking some of the opportunities that came your way, it is entirely possible that you got off course. Now you are on a path that may not lead to the destination you had in mind.
Nobody likes paying their dues when it comes to getting what they want, but it may be time for you to get back to your roots. Take a role that will help you get to where you want to go.

What Are You Passionate About?
School counselors often ask students what they are good at and what they are passionate about.
While these are not the only questions you should be asking as you look to figure out what you want to be when you grow up, passion is a significant point to pay attention to.
If you are passionate about what certain organizations are up to, you are more likely to be excited and enthusiastic about the work you would get to do in those companies. This will also mean that you will be more likely to stay longer in the role too, which can be another important factor for success.

Where Can You Make The Biggest Impact?
Do you see an opportunity to make an impact in the world? Is there a problem you can solve?
More than ever, workers are connected to their values and what matters to them. If you know what matters to you, that means there is a good chance you would be more effective in a role where you know you can cause meaningful change.
So, it is worth evaluating where you can make a difference, as the work you do could far outlive you, leaving a legacy for others to enjoy.

Final Thoughts
People tend to put themselves under a lot of pressure when it comes to making decisions regarding their careers. If they do not make a perfect decision, they end up feeling like their decision was wrong. This leaves you in analysis paralysis.
The reality is this: there probably isn’t a perfect decision you can make – only a decision that is right for this moment. It is far more freeing to think in terms of the opportunities available to you now, and which are the right fit for you, versus trying to manufacture an opportunity that may not even exist.

Let’s get to work!
If you have questions about your executive career search, please contact me at 203-323-9977 or