formally known as ExecuBlog

"Reinventing" Yourself

If you are thinking your career needs to be reinvented, here are some things to consider. Think of employers as "buyers" of our services, and realize that buyers are proactively looking to buy what they value. So as you look to reinvent yourself, how are you positioning and promoting your new services or capabilities as value? Ask yourself these three questions:

1. How is the "reinvented" you more relevant in today's job market than the "you" you are currently offering?

2. Are the new services or talents you are planning to offer being purchased (hired) today?

3. How will the "reinvented" you be better equipped to solve bigger, more complex issues, and contribute more to the financial success of the hiring organization?


You know you are on the path to an "upgrade" when you can answer these three questions clearly and succinctly, to others.

How to answer these questions?

1. Research - look to government sponsored websites that show demand for different career areas projected into the future.

2. Ask - while you are networking, seek out people who hire and ask about the level of demand they are seeing for different skills.

3. Plan - put a plan in place to acquire the new skills needed

4. Tell - be ready to tell success stories that are related to and demonstrate your skills in, the new areas. 

5. Market - upgrade your social media presence to reflect your new skills, as organizations can't "buy" what they aren't aware of. 

Good luck on your reinvention! 


follow Graham @GrahamKRiley 

Your Career Development Plan


individual development plan

Who is responsible for your career development?

- You?

- Your Manager?

- The Leadership Development Director?

- The Organization?

The easy answer is that all are responsible. But, while all share some responsibility, it is you who bears the greatest burden to make your career work out in your own interest.

When an objective is shared, it oftentimes is difficult to complete. Why? Because in the end, no one is completely responsible. Your career development is too important to place in someone else’s hands. There are lots of places and people to turn to, but you are the one that makes it happen. Sources for help include your boss(es), the head of the organization’s development programs, a mentor, a coach, a partner. Any of these sources are generally ready and willing to offer a hand. Your job is to sort out the wheat from the chaff and do the key things necessary to build your own brand and portfolio.

What about just working hard as the way to success? Won't hard work get noticed and rewarded? Oftentimes it is. But just as often, you can be taken for granted. Seek first to do an excellent job and then decide what is meaningful and necessary for you to learn to do more and take on greater responsibilities. Take advantage of and lobby for those opportunities within your organization. Search out and find logical tasks and development opportunities that match your career goals and will be supported by your organization. Don’t be bashful in asking for help or the resources to accomplish those objectives. You need to stand out and separate yourself from the competition.

Does your organization have a management succession plan? Most do, so find out what key characteristics are expected of future leaders. Work on those attributes. If your organization does not have a succession planning function, then discuss with your boss or other leader in the organization what it takes to move up.

Climbing the career ladder is never easy. On the other hand, it’s pretty straight forward: It really boils down to excelling at your job, creating the right network of coaches and mentors, and working diligently on those skills and experiences defined by your organization as the key ingredients for promotion. And, oh, by the way don’t forget all the troops along the way. Your reputation and networking capability is only enhanced by treating everyone with dignity and respect.

Your career development is in your hands. Don’t wait for good things to just happen. And, by the way, nice guys finish first too.


Mark Youngblood

follow Mark @RMarkYoungblood

Your Job Search is Not about You - Interviewing

In a previous post, I talked about how networking is Not about You. Interviewing is similar, in a different setting. Your goal is to build friendly relationships and show genuine interest in all those you encounter. This makes you memorable. Ask about challenges they face. Promote your skills and abilities in the context of helping to resolve problems. Demonstrating the ability to communicate effectively and work easily with others is highly desirable. You’ll discover the most talented don’t always get hired. Offers go to talented people perceived as fitting in and enjoyable to work with on a daily basis. Interviewing is Not about You.

Assessment tools are always beneficial to prepare for interviewing. Assessment results deliver information on values, skills and abilities, personality traits, interests and more. Review your results with a professional. This will provide insight and awareness regarding the types of organizations to target - where your strengths can make a contribution. Assessments are Not about You.

In search correspondence, something seemingly inconsequential is relevant. Limit the use of “I” as much as possible. In lieu of beginning a letter or email with, “I want to thank you”, why not, “Thank you for your…” Reducing the use of “I” differentiates you in the mind of the reader. Correspondence is Not about You!

These examples were meant to illustrate how Your Search is Not about You. Make your job search about the people you meet, their perceptions, and fulfilling the needs of companies. By approaching your search with this mindset, you’ll likely experience more control, value even the small successes, and have a new awareness.  


Rick Pipal

Job Search Mentor - InnerSource Services

Connect with Rick on LinkedIn

Your Job Search is not about You - Networking

If this is true, who is your job search about? It doesn’t mean you don’t manage your search. So how is it "Not about You"? Please allow me to explain this theory. 

I just read an article called (I’m paraphrasing), “10 Guaranteed Methods of Successful Networking”. The essence of its guidance was to use a self-focused networking approach. Not one word was mentioned about creating any new relationships with your networking contacts. Using a “self-centered” style is unproductive – in time, energy and results. Remember the old saying, “The more you give, the more you get”? As my father used to say, “There’s a reason ‘Old Sayings' are around; they’re true.” So how do you network if it’s Not about You?   

Imagine you’re meeting with a new networking contact. What is your primary goal? Simple. Get to know this person and build a new relationship. It’s understood by both you’re looking for work. You’ve sent your resume prior and brought extras. You’re upbeat and happy to be there. You show interest in them and appreciation for their generosity. You learn about them by asking questions. It allows them to talk about themselves. Your questions should be professional and a bit personal. Questions like, “How well do you know Mr. Reed?” (the person who introduced you) “What is a typical day like for you?” “What helpful lessons have you learned in your career?” Make it about them. Create a conversation and they’ll reciprocate by asking about you. 

Always ask for their guidance, suggestions, opinions, etc.  What do they feel could be helpful to your search? React to their feedback like every idea you hear is a fresh one. Never say you’ve heard that or tried something suggested. Always ask for introductions to useful contacts of theirs. By demonstrating your interest in them throughout, sharing their contacts is more probable. Allowing you to use their name with others is a huge benefit. Mention that you’ll be following up to get their contacts’ information. After parting, within hours, send a personally written thank you card. Personal mail is a thoughtful and memorable touch.   

In attending Networking Group gatherings use a similar style. The more questions you ask of others and how you may be able to help them, the more favorable impression you’ll make. People tend to reciprocate when meeting a helpful and cheerful person. How new contacts react can be  surprising. Since I can’t cover every step, can you begin to see how Networking is Not about You?


Rick Pipal

Job Search Mentor at InnerSource Services

connect with Rick on LinkedIn

Life and Career Success - What is it?





The Definition of Success:

I previously discussed that “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” as it relates to being a workaholic. How does that old saying work relative to success in life or your career?

First off, it has to be your personal definition. Not that of your parents. Not that of your spouse. Not that of your friends or peers. You have to define it, and then be grateful for and revel in that success.

How do you measure success?

  • You enjoy what you are doing
  • You have a great balance between work, family and personal life
  • You are satisfied with your contributions more days than you or not
  • You look forward to getting out of bed and getting on with your day — at least, most days
  • You look at challenges as opportunities
  • You are grateful for who and what you are
  • You have no need “to keep up with the Jones’ next door
  • Wealth is not a driver
  • Position or power is not a driver
  • You get to learn a little bit every day
  • You work with energizing people
  • You have the time and inclination to travel and gain different experiences
  • You belong to a faith community
  • You can leave your mistakes behind and yet learn from them
  • You can be an inspiration to others
  • You leave a legacy
  • You have a large circle of friends
  • You find the time for the important things and people in your life

There are those who say, “You can’t have it all.” Well, who is to say that you need it all? Define what is important in your life and seek the means to achieve what is truly important to your life and pleasure and not that of your neighbor or what you see and hear from the media. Keep things – especially material things – in perspective. Enjoy life, your community, and your family!

What are your measuring sticks for your success – and happiness – in life?


Mark Youngblood

follow Mark @rmarkyoungblood


What is your value?

Are you planning on making a change in your career or starting a job search in 2013?

More than 70% of people who leave a job do so because they feel "under-valued". While they may feel under-valued, it is their ability to promote and demonstrate their perceived value to a potential new employer that will determine if their next move is a step up in their career or simply a step from the frying pan into the fire!

From recent college graduates to C-level executives, having the ability to clearly articulate what benefit(s) or value an organization would gain from hiring their services is the greatest challenge facing anyone seeking their next opportunity.

We no longer live in a time where we can be modest, to hint or imply that we are a viable candidate for any role. Our resume, cover letter, professional and social media profiles should clearly and succinctly state how our talents (education, training, experience, and accomplishments) can contribute to the financial success of an organization. When we do this effectively we differentiate ourselves from others who just don't. Don't leave it up to an interviewer or hiring manager to determine your value. 

Whether you are currently employed, under-employed, or in transition, it is your skill to market and present the OUTCOMES of your talents by focusing on the positive financial impact of those outcomes, that will keep you moving forward in your career or job search!

Remember that "Your LinkedIn Profile = Your Value Proposition" whether you are working or not. What does your profile say about your value?


Graham Riley

Managing Director CareerToolbox International, LLC

follow Graham @GrahamKRiley 



Expand your Horizons and Renew your Passions




There is frequent debate about what constitutes a workaholic, and there is an old saying that says, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”  When we see someone who steadfastly pursues a goal, we may consider them to be passionate. Or, are they being self-interested? Which is more accurate? Can you be too single-minded in your approach to life or a career?

I don’t believe I have the right to judge which behaviors are good, bad, workaholic, or passionate. However, I do know that most accomplished people, those you want to be around or follow, usually have broad knowledge and experiences to go along with their passion.

Let’s take a look at ways you can become well rounded in your life. I recently took a 3-week trip to Spain and had a wonderful time. Great scenery and great food; wonderful people! I will have plenty of fond memories of this trip, especially the many areas we passed through over a 9-day bicycle trip. Despite the rain, it was still thoroughly enjoyable and remarkable on many fronts.

Beyond the great memories and photo spots, however, I think back on the wonderful things I learned about the history and culture of Spain, and how I grew in my own capabilities. How did that happen?

One, I opened myself to learning a new language. Before the trip I knew only a smattering of Spanish, or more specifically Castilian, the language of most of Spain. I learned a lot of vocabulary but did not have a lot of chance to speak it. I learned fast once I arrived, even though nearly everyone in Spain knows way more English than I do Spanish. That method of learning worked well when we were in Madrid and surrounding areas. Little did I initially know that in Barcelona, in the Catalonia region, the principal language is Catalan, which is closer to French.

Two, I encountered new geography and new food and new ways of running businesses.

Three, transportation is different, even better than I'm used to.  The train from Madrid to Barcelona traveled over 300 kmph, which equates to 180 mph, and was nice and smooth, and a great experience.

Four, freeing my mind from my work-a-day worries and problem solving, I opened myself up to new experiences and learning. I even found myself beginning to understand a little modern art after visits to the Prado (Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid), and the Salvador Dali (in Figueres) and Joan Mior (in Barcelona) museums.

Bottom line: Whether you are a workaholic or just passionate, I urge you to change the pace, see the world, do different things to develop more knowledge of yourself and make your life and yourself more interesting.

Happy travels!

Mark Youngblood

Executive Coach and Career Counselor

follow Mark @RMarkYoungblood


What Do YOU Think You're Worth?

So you’re sitting with your boss, and you’re going over his comments in your annual performance review meeting.  He notes that you’re a great team player, and you’re always there to take on a new task, regardless of its importance (or lack thereof).  Nothing is beneath you.  You’re always on time for work, and stay late whenever required.  The staff all like you and no one has any complaints about you or your work.  You ask all the right questions.  You get everything done on time.  In short, you’re a model employee and they tell you they wish they had a dozen more just like you.  Your head begins to swell and you unconsciously stick your chest out just a bit.  You’re proud.  You did good.

Now for the salary news.  Unfortunately, you are at the top of your pay scale and there will be no salary increase this year.


Your look of utter shock and stunned silence prompts a lame explanation from your boss.  According to all the salary information they have, they’re actually paying you more than you could get if you went to another firm, so it’s all the more incentive to stay right where you are.  There’s no indication that you will ever get any more than cost of living increases while you remain in this role, unless you are somehow able to get promoted to another position.  Unfortunately this is a small firm, and the only way that’s going to happen is if someone above you quits or retires.

You’re speechless.  There’s nothing more to say.  Your boss tells you to keep up the good work and the meeting is over.  The next thing you know, you’re back at your desk and your brain is a muddled mess.  They’re using a pay scale for your chosen profession, but you do a significant amount of extra work in the office as well.  You are saving them money by making it so they don’t have to hire additional staff.  Doesn’t that count for something?  Apparently not.

You see, there’s no category or pay scale for “multi tasking”.  Neither or  have definitions that cover your unique skill set and work history.  In short, you’re a valuable asset to the firm, and they don’t have to do anything extra to keep you.  All your hard work has gone for nothing.  Where did you go wrong?

In a previous blog I discussed my own situation, which is precariously close to the scenario described above.  I said that being the one who does multiple things for a small firm is achieving “job security”.  While this is indeed true, it does come at a price.  Your career may very well have hit a brick wall.  If you’re happy where you are, doing what you’re doing, and the people you work with – then read no more.  You have reached your own personal career nirvana.  The lack of a salary increase should be seen as nothing more an unfortunate side effect to an otherwise perfect employment path.

If however, you’re more like the stunned individual in the scenario above, then options have to be researched and decisions have to be made.  Is it worth your time to market your skill set to other employers?  Then comes the big question - what salary do YOU think you deserve?  On what do you base your worth?  Because you do accounting and some HR, or some IT, or some of the office management, should you get some extra compensation for that?  How much extra? 

It is my belief that this scenario is not that unusual.  This is an age where many small firms have had to lay off people and in turn ask others to “pick up the slack”.  There is not much information out there on this subject, and I would like to start some discussion.  I would greatly appreciate any comments, concerns, ideas or suggestions you may have.

Stay tuned…

 by Michael Paulson

follow Michael @paulsonmichaelj


"Hidden job market" or Hidden Talent?

If you are in job transition, you may have heard of the "hidden job market". The hidden job market spoken of by many career/job search professionals refers to jobs that have not been posted, or advertised.  

I would offer that it is NOT the jobs that are hidden (as recruiters and hiring organizations are acutely aware of their hiring needs) but rather it is the ideal candidates that are hidden.

For example, recruiters conduct searches on the various candidate databases that they subscribe to i.e. LinkedIn. If a candidate's profile does not appear in their search, then that candidate (who may indeed be the "ideal candidate") simply does not show up in the search results - hence they are "hidden" from the opportunity.

The most important metric or indicator to understanding if you are hidden on LinkedIn is your "Appearances in Search" over the last 90 days, shown on your Home page. An effective profile will have both "Appearances in Search" and "Views" over the last 90 days in the thousands, even with the basic free service.

If a recruiter looks at your profile then they MAY reach out to you about an opportunity. If you don't get viewed, or even appear in a search, then you are GUARANTEED that you will not be getting a call!

Graham Riley

Managing Director of CareerToolbox international, LLC

follow Graham @GrahamKRiley 


How To Have Fun In The Office And Not Kill Anyone


I read an article on LinkedIn a few days back which hit home a bit for me. It was about having fun at the office. We don’t have much fun in our office anymore –the depressed economic climate took care of that. No summer picnics or golf outings, no Christmas parties or lunch get togethers. We don’t have the budget for it. We’re using that money to market our services to more clients, and doing everything in our power to keep our people paid and off the unemployment line. We’re working harder and doing with less.

You can feel the weight of people’s moods here. There is no hope for pay raises or bonuses, not until things turn around. In the meantime I have been searching for ways to at least improve employee morale. I want to give them something to cheer them up – something to smile or laugh about. Then I got an idea. I’m not exactly sure where it came from – it just occurred to me.

I am a hobby woodworker. I love to make small stuff, like cribbage boards, and pens, and kids’ toys. Well, my idea was this – rubber band guns.

Now I know we live in an era when guns in general are the topic of heavy debate. I won’t even go into that. I don’t even consider what I made as weaponry. While I can hear the echo of my mother’s voice in the background talking about shooting someone’s eye out, it is overridden by the voice of innovation and reason. We are not 10 year olds looking to start a war. I am reasonably positive there is no one in our office with serial killer tendencies. They’re pretty much your normal average everyday Joe’s and Jane’s.They come to work, they do work, and then they go home to their families and friends.I talk to them every day. They seem stable enough.

So instead of continuing to justify myself, here’s how it all went down. I made the above “dueling pistols”. Cost:scrap wood, glue, and 2 clothes pins.In other words, $0.00 – zero (not considering labor, equipment usage costs, opportunity costs, depreciation, or any other accounting terminology I use in my normal business day). I brought them into work, and went to see our staff. Without any preparation or fanfare, I challenged one of our staff to a re-enactment of the famous Alexander Hamilton / Aaron Burr duel. He happily accepted.

We stood back to back, walked off 10 paces, turned and fired. Neither rubber band was able to cover the distance. We repeated the process at 5 paces, and both missed our respective targets. On the third attempt, I was gunned down by my opponent. His projectile rubber band hit my pants leg and fell to the floor.My rubber band went wide right, barely making it to my opponent. The staff laughed.I had not heard any laughing in quite a while. We had fun – in the office. We proceeded to discuss the weapons involved, childhood memories of rubber band fights, and simply had an enjoyable break. When I went back to my desk, everyone was returning to their work – and they were still smiling. Mission accomplished!

Well we certainly were not 100% productive during those 15 or so minutes it took for the re-enactment, but I am willing to bet that the work performed following the break was done a little better, as everyone’s mood had been lifted a point or two.

So now I am the newly elected vice president of fun. The pressure is on me to come up with something more fun and creative. It can’t cost anything and it can’t take significant time away from people’s productive time – let’s be very clear on that. I am the accountant after all, and no one knows more than me what work breaks really cost, and how difficult it is to measure intangible benefits like how an employee’s mood can affect the level of productivity.

If anybody has any ideas out there, I would love to hear about them.


Michael Paulson

Accounting Professional

follow Michael @PaulsonMichaelJ