When You Should Stop Planning and be in the Moment During a Career Search

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

There is quite a bit of planning involved in the process of a career search. You need to tap into your network, spend time optimizing your social media profiles and your resume, researching relevant companies, preparing for upcoming interviews, and much more.

Sometimes getting caught up in the rigmarole of a career search can cause you to miss opportunities.

Today, many positions are being filled without ever being advertised. If your head is always down and you cannot spare a moment to look up, you could end up letting some on some great opportunities pass you by.

So, when should you stop planning? How can you stay in the moment? What can you do to capture opportunities that come your way? Here are some moments to consider.

You Have Completed All the Homework

Your resume is on point. Your social media presence is impeccable. You have done your homework and you are ready to move into a new position. You might even be getting a few calls for interviews at this point.

Finding a job today can be a long process – especially when both parties are looking for the right fit. Even if you are getting calls back, there are no guarantees. The interview process could go on much longer than you might expect.

Clearly, you are doing something right if you are getting calls for interviews. After some time of waiting with no job offer, you may begin to think you need to revisit your resume and social media profiles for another round of editing, but you don’t! All you need to do is keep doing what you are doing.

Keep an open mind and allow yourself to go down a few rabbit trails when they present themselves. You never know where they might lead.

Allow Space for Synchronicities to Happen

It is common for highly driven people to think “if it’s to be, it’s up to me.” It is good to have that attitude, as it puts you in the driver’s seat. You are in control of your destiny, and you are willing to do whatever it takes to make your dreams a reality.

Although there is a time to put your blinders on and get to work, you might be surprised by the synchronicities that can occur if you just allow them to happen.

You might bump into an executive or decision-maker while you are out having lunch. You might get an email from an old friend who tells you they have found the perfect job for you. You may randomly come across a company on LinkedIn that is engaged in work you would love to be a part of.

The perfect opportunity can land in your lap. This is not to suggest that it will, but if you keep doing the work and remember to stay in the moment, you could see some amazing things happen.

Keep Asking Questions

What many people are looking for is a listening ear. If you make it a point to ask more questions as you go about your day to day, you might be surprised at the connections you make.

You cannot be fully engaged in a conversation if you are not in the moment. You will miss important details and potential opportunities if you are not actively listening.

Great networking moments can happen if you are willing to engage in conversation. Your passion and knowledge will come across in the questions you ask, which could end up impressing the right people.

Keep asking questions. You will be surprised by how much more charisma you will emanate if you are the person that cares for and listens to those around you.

Final Thoughts

It is important to maintain balance during a career search. You need to do the work. But you also need to remain mindful and present.

Sometimes, the answers come to us when we are not thinking so hard about them. In the same way, sometimes the best opportunities come to us when we are busy doing something else.

Let’s get to work!

If you have questions about your executive career search, please contact me at 203-323-9977 or lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com.


5 Steps You Must Take to Prepare for Career Change Success

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



Planning a career change soon?

Making the decision is hard enough, but this can be tricky business unless you are well prepared.

Many people leap before looking because they are excited about a change. Unfortunately, they are often met with disappointment because they did not take the right steps to prepare.

That will not be you! Here are five steps you can take to prepare for career change success:

  1. Review Your Goals & Determine if You are Still On Track

Though a skilled coach can help you home in on your goals, your goals ultimately belong to you. Nobody understands your aims as comprehensively as you do.

If you are thinking about a career change, it is time to review your targets. Consider whether you are on track to reaching them. Also think about whether these goals still motivate you and apply to your situation.

There is no shame in rethinking your career objectives. What you once thought was important may no longer be important to you. So, if you want to course correct and get moving in the right direction, you will want to give careful consideration to your goals.

  1. Plan Well & Determine How To Set Yourself Apart

Trying to make a career change without considering your next steps will hinder your progress.

You need to be thinking strategically. Though you can post your resume and apply online, recognize that this is what everyone else is doing because it is easy. How will you stand out from the crowd? You need both an online and offline strategy.

You will want to start building connections and researching the companies you are planning to apply to. (More on this in a further along).

  1. Build Connections Purposefully

Hopefully, this is something you have been doing all along, whether in-person or on social media.

Per The Muse, you’ll be 15 times more likely to get hired if you are a referred applicant. It is not just what you know – it is who you know that could be the deciding factor.

The decisionmakers may not be a second or even third-degree connection of yours. So, determine how you can get in touch with the people you need to know. This is a good step to take well in advance of making a career change.

  1. Update Your Resume

Customize your resume and cover letter for every position you are planning to apply to.

These days, resumes are not always being looked at by people. It is common for machines (specifically, Applicant Tracking Software) to be scanning them for specific keywords. So, if your resume does not contain the right content, it might be ignored completely, even if you possess the right skills and experience for the job.

Research the company and position, as well as what they are looking for in a candidate, and customize your resume to reflect your findings.

  1. Research The Companies You Are Planning to Apply to

If you want to be prepared for interviews, you should find out everything you can about the companies you are planning to apply to.

It will be obvious to decision makers whether you have done your homework or not. Even if you do not understand all the details, if you demonstrate interest in the business, there is a better chance you will make a good impression.

The more genuine the interest, the better. In other words, if you care about the job you are applying for, it should come across in your actions and demeanor.

Final Thoughts

Your career has led you to this point. Whatever disappointments you may have experienced, it is time to leave your baggage in the past. It is time to get excited about your future.

More than anything, what many companies are looking for is passion. If you are passionate about the position you are applying to, it will show in your voice and your body language.

Believe in yourself. There is a company out there that needs a person like you.

Let’s get to work!

If you have questions about your executive career search, please contact me at 203-323-9977 or lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com.

LinkedIn Series Part TWO- How to use LinkedIn for Professional Development – Tips and Tricks

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



LinkedIn is a goldmine of opportunities for those who choose to utilize the features to their best advantage.

We have already looked at several ways to manage your LinkedIn profile to work toward advancing your career – fleshing out your profile, following Network Updates, keeping an eye on LinkedIn Jobs, upgrading to a premium account, connecting with people who have viewed your profile, growing your connections, and more.

There are so many other features and tips to cover!

Continue reading to learn more:

Customize Your Public Profile URL

Make your profile easier to find by creating a customized profile URL.

By default, your profile URL has various random alphanumerical characters in it. As you can imagine, this URL is difficult for anyone to manually enter into a web search bar.

When you clean it up your profile URL, it will look more like this: http://www.linkedin.com/in/lindavan/

This personalized URL is easy to add to a resume, business card, pamphlet, or other networking, promotional item.

Use Saved Searches for Efficiency

Do you regularly find yourself frequently searching for the same types of jobs and people on LinkedIn? Many other LinkedIn users do the same thing.

Did you know that you can use LinkedIn’s built-in “Save Search” option to run the same searches again in the future? This will help you save time and stay current with update search results.

Plus, you can also receive weekly or monthly email reminders with the search results.

LinkedIn allows you to save up to three people and 10 job searches.

Get Involved In LinkedIn Groups

Find relevant industry Groups and participate in the discussions, or start your own.

There are many benefits to actively participating in Groups.

For one, you can establish your authority in the industry by sharing news updates and replying to questions that come your way.

You can also connect with other people in the group who share like interests to your own, even if they are not a first-degree connection of yours.

Note that you can email members of your group once per week to keep them engaged and updated.

Whether you are looking to build traffic to your articles or blog, create relevant industry connections, or increase your authority in the industry, the benefits of joining and being a part of groups should not be ignored.

Connect Your LinkedIn Profile to Twitter

Twitter may not be the most popular social network out there right now. That does not mean it does not hold any value.

Your LinkedIn updates can be automatically shared to your Twitter profile, helping you extend the reach of your posts.

When posting something new, simply click “Post Settings”, and “Public + Twitter” in the dropdown. This should help increase the visibility of your LinkedIn posts and draw more attention to your LinkedIn profile.

Use @mentions In Your Updates

Do you want to ensure certain people see your updates on LinkedIn?

@mentions on LinkedIn work just like they do on Facebook and Twitter, allowing you to draw people in and start a conversation with them.

This can be a great way to connect with others, if done in a respectful way. Beware of overusing or abusing this feature.

Publish Content on LinkedIn’s Publishing Platform

Do you have a blog? Are you using content to connect with an audience? Are you building your credibility and expertise through regular publishing?

LinkedIn’s publishing platform is one of the most powerful of any on the web, and can be leveraged to help you build better connections and find career opportunities.

Create an editorial calendar for yourself and begin developing content that establishes you as someone to watch in your industry.

Final Thoughts

Set goals for yourself and your LinkedIn productivity.

If you do not have a clearly defined plan and objectives for what you hope to accomplish on LinkedIn, you will never know when you have reached your goals.

Tips and tricks can help, but only if you know what you are after. Ultimately, only you know what you are trying to achieve. These tips will help you get there!

Let’s get to work!

If you have questions about your executive career search, please contact me at 203-323-9977 or lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com.


How to Network on LinkedIn – Use These Tips & Tricks to Boost Your Opportunities

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



LinkedIn is one of the most popular social networks for professionals.

Networking plays an important role in finding new career opportunities, connecting with industry influencers, uncovering future partners and vendors, and more.

How should one go about using this powerful platform to network? How can you make valuable connections inside and outside your industry?

Complete Your Profile

One of the first things you will want to do is fill out all the details of your profile.

A profile that is not fully filled-out is often overlooked or ignored, because it appears to be underutilized or neglected entirely.

This means adding a profile and background picture, summary, experience, and so forth. You can also add links to your website, social profiles, portfolio, and other relevant sites, so take advantage of this feature.

It can be worthwhile to optimize your profile for SEO as well, including relevant keywords and terms you want to be found for.

With this information in place, you will have an easier time getting a response from those you connect with.

Keep An Eye On Network Updates

Network Updates is essentially LinkedIn’s version of the Facebook News Feed.

Checking these updates allows you to see what your connections have shared and to engage with them.

You can also share your own updates to interact with your connections.

If you would like to keep a closer eye on everything that is happening in your Network Updates, you can also sign up to receive email notifications.

Take Advantage Of LinkedIn’s Job Postings

If you are looking for a job, take advantage of LinkedIn Jobs. You can use its advanced search feature to find jobs by title, keywords, industry, location, company, and more.

As you apply to more jobs and save your searches, LinkedIn will also begin sending you recommendations for jobs you might be interested in.

Get A Premium Account

By default, LinkedIn does not allow you to connect with anyone but first-degree connections. Does this mean you cannot send messages to people you are not connected with?

If you get a premium account, you can take advantage of Open Profile to message any LinkedIn member.

Granted, this feature will not do you much good if you are not effective in connecting with others. Learning to write professional messages should be one of your top priorities when networking on LinkedIn.

Keep An Eye On Those Who Have View Your Profile

Wouldn’t it be great if you could see exactly who has viewed your profile? After all, if there is anyone worth connecting with, it is probably those who came across your profile.

Fortunately, LinkedIn has built-in functionality that allows you to do this very thing. All you need to do is navigate to Who’s Viewed Your Profile under your Profile dropdown menu.

As with sending messages to people who are not first-degree connections, however, you will require a premium account to unlock this feature.

Grow Your Connections

When sharing updates on LinkedIn, the updates you are sharing will only go out to those who are connected to you. So, why not grow your list of connections?

LinkedIn now has several tools that allow you to grow your network. For instance, you can “Manage Your Synced and Imported Contacts” and sync up with your email contacts to see who else you know and you have not connected with on LinkedIn yet.

Final Thoughts

It is now easier than ever to connect with people on LinkedIn. You could be missing out on a lot of great opportunities if you are not taking advantage of it already.

Use the above tips as a starting point and spend a little bit of time growing your LinkedIn presence daily. You will begin to see results from a concentrated effort.

Let’s get to work!

If you have questions about your executive career search, please contact me at 203-323-9977 or lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com.

How To Create Powerful Goals And Stick To Them

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



As an ambitious executive, it is important to set goals.

But do you find your goals motivate you to action?

Many people set new goals as another year rolls around and soon forget what they were planning to achieve.

Goals can be hard to stick with. But they are much easier to track with if they are powerful goals that mean something to you.

Not sure how to set goals that connect with you on a deeper level? Read on.

Set Big, Ambitious Goals

One of the reasons your goals may not be motivating you is because they are too small.

If the goals are too easy to reach, they will not require a lot of time and effort on your part. That makes it easy to procrastinate. Moreover, smaller goals do not require the help of others.

As a leader, one of your jobs is to inspire others. When you have big goals, it is much easier for your team to catch your vision and get on the same page to help you reach your objectives.

Accountability plays a significant part in sticking to your goals.

Break Your Goals Down Into Smaller Action Steps

A goal is just wishful thinking unless you have a plan detailing how you are going to achieve it.

Can you break your goals down into smaller action steps? If not, it means you do not know how to achieve those goals. Either you need to revise that goal or research the steps involved in making it a reality.

We are all crunched for time, but it is easy to spend 10, 20, or 30 minutes daily on meaningful action steps. If that is all the time you have, you need to know exactly how to spend it to reach your goals.

Think Long-Term, but Be Willing To Adjust

It is important for leaders to be thinking five to 10 years ahead.

The challenge today is that in this fast-paced world, it is harder than ever to keep up with changes in customer demands, the market, technology, and so on.

So, it is more important than ever for executives to recognize the importance of adjusting as they move closer to their goals.

Your goal may be relevant today but could mean very little to you a year or two down the line. Tweak your goals based on the changes and shifts you see taking place.

Ensure Your Goals Are In Alignment With You & Your Career

As a leader, you must be thinking big picture.

It is fine to have personal goals, but if they are not in alignment with your values, you are not going to be motivated to achieve them.

Likewise, you will need to set career goals, but if they are not aligned with business objectives that have already been identified, there could be some dissonance between what you want to accomplish and what needs to be accomplished.

You will have a much better chance at sticking to goals that matter to you and the people around you if they are well matched.

Revisit Your Goals Regularly & Track Progress

It is all too easy to write goals down in a notebook you never look at again.

It is much more effective to keep your goals out in front of you, whether it is on a blackboard, whiteboard, a piece of paper pinned to a corkboard, or otherwise.

If you track your progress, you will get to review the steps you have taken so far and will be more likely to stay on course. You will be encouraged by the steps you have taken.

Final Thoughts

Goal setting does work. But oftentimes, you will require the help of others to make them a reality, even if it is just in the form of accountability. It helps to check in with your coach or mentor on a regular basis, as they can steer you in the right direction when you feel off track.

Let’s get to work!

If you have questions about your executive career search, please contact me at 203-323-9977 or lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com.

Have You Plateaued In Your Career? Here is What You Can Do Next



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



As you continue to grow professionally and personally, you will begin to want different things from your career.

Your ambition level will change. You will seek out bigger challenges. You will want to try something different. You might feel that you have hit a plateau and see no options for advancement.

Loyalty is a great quality to have, and one you will require as a leader. But it can also hold you back from making a change. Turning your back on commitments you have made can make you feel like an imposter.

You cannot leave yourself out of the equation when you have hit a plateau. You must consider why you have plateaued, what your needs are and determine what next steps to take.

Here are several ways to gets past your career plateau.

Take a New Approach To Your Work

Perhaps you feel burned out in your current role. You work crazy hours and barely have any time left for yourself. You come into work frazzled and leave even more stressed out.

Challenge can be a good thing, but if you have too many demands placed on you it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The easiest way to get past a career plateau is to try a new approach. If you are overworked, you may consider delegating or reallocating more responsibilities. Conversely, if you feel you are being underutilized, you might consider adding to your workload to keep things fresh. No matter the situation, if you can find a way to shake things up, your enthusiasm for your work will pick up again.

Grow Yourself

Does it seem like there is a glass ceiling on your potential?

If this is what you feel, it may be time to acquire new skills. Find training programs or educational opportunities that are either outside of your expertise or will enhance your existing skill set. Learning something new can be inspiring and allow you to move into positions you might not otherwise be able to.

Even if you do not end up moving into an entirely new role after you have gone through your training, you will still benefit from growing yourself.

Seek Out the Help of An Experienced Career Coach

An experienced executive career coach can help you identify growth opportunities and options you might be missing. If you are not sure what your next steps are, then you should consider working with a career coach. Make your coach aware of your career goals and aspirations, and they should be able to point you in the right direction.

Lead A Different Team

If you have hit a plateau, it probably means you are comfortable in your role. Chances are good you have not had anything new to do in a while, and if you have, it was not anything extraordinary.

It is important to engage in work that is challenging and holds your interest. If you have already demonstrated your strengths as a leader, you may be able to make a “sideways shift” in your company to lead a different team or take on different work. This may not always be an option, but one worth exploring with your superiors.

Change Companies

This is not always an option. But in some instances, changing companies may create new opportunities and challenges for you. It may also present you with the chance to utilize different skills and continue climbing your career ladder.

Final Thoughts

Career plateaus can occur for a variety of reasons. It is important to identify and understand your struggles before seeking next steps. Once you recognize why you are plateauing, you will be ready to look at your options. You may not need to resort to drastic measures to improve your situation. Communicating with your team or your superiors can lead to meaningful answers. But if you do need to move on, there is no shame in it. You may discover someone with your knowledge and experience can be better utilized elsewhere.

Let’s get to work!

If you have questions about your executive career search, please contact me at 203-323-9977 or lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com.

How to Stay Present and Positive as a Leader to Effect Positive Change


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



Leadership is both challenging and exciting.

Being assigned a C-level title does not make you a leader. What makes you a true leader is your ability to lead others by example.

If you want your team to have a positive attitude, then you need to show them what a positive attitude looks like. If you want them to focus on their work and improve their performance, you should show them how to hit their targets.

Thinking too much about the past or the future can steal you away from the present moment. When you are not entertaining fear-based thoughts, you are better able to concentrate on what matters right now.

Here are some tips on how to manage your attitude, stay present, and remain positive.

Choose To Look At Everything Differently

It is surprising the things that happen when you begin to focus on the positive rather than the negative aspects of your work or your team. Relationships and moods tend to improve, leading to more openness and willingness.

If you have been spending a lot of time looking at the downsides of your employees or their capabilities, it is time instead to focus on the value they bring to the organization.

Everyone makes mistakes. Try not to focus on that. Let the past be the past and determine what you can do today to be more conscious of what is going right in your career.

Create A Culture Of “Shipping”

Shipping means to bring a project to completion. Marketing expert Seth Godin encourages entrepreneurs and businesses everywhere to “just ship”, because it is too easy to fall into the habit of perfecting an offer before presenting it to the marketplace.

When a project is completed, everyone feels a sense of accomplishment. Employees can eliminate mental clutter and start fresh on a new project.

When there are too many projects hanging in the air, anxiety can build up fast. Staying present becomes difficult.

If necessary, try breaking projects down into more manageable, bite-sized chunks. When you and your team see progress, you will feel encouraged to keep pressing on.

Keep Learning & Growing

Many business owners and executives tend to rush the process of systematization.

For your business to run like a machine, it will be necessary to put robust systems and skilled personnel in place. If you expect everything to work perfectly before even testing it, you are going to be disappointed and frustrated.

Developing a culture where mistakes and learning are encouraged is one where you will see innovation and growth. Your team members will come up with unexpected and eloquent solutions to problems. They will be invested in the organization’s success.

Set the example by continually learning and growing yourself.

Recognize & Engage Your Team

Confidence and high self-esteem positively impacts your entire team. It allows them to take chances without feeling like they are going to be chastised for making a mistake. You will also see productivity go up, and relationships improve.

If you want to encourage collaboration, then take the time necessary to build up your team. Recognize excellent work. Engage them to keep morale high.

Final Thoughts

Positivity is a matter of perspective.

It is easy to feel optimistic about your day when everything is going well. But, what if things do not go well?

The true mark of a leader is someone that can see the good in a situation that may appear to be negative. After all, there will always be some mistakes, challenges, obstacles, and setbacks in any career or workplace. If you are experiencing some difficulty, it just means you are human. So, it is not a matter of how you feel about these situations, but how you deal with them.

Do not allow your past to dictate your present or your future. Do not let your fear of the future distract you from what matters in the present.

Let’s get to work!

If you have questions about your executive career search, please contact me at 203-323-9977 or lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com.