Fitting Back In: Rebounding Back to Corporate After Entrepreneurship

Fitting Back In: Rebounding Back to Corporate After Entrepreneurship


Owning your own business is hard work. It is definitely not something everyone can do — even the best business ideas don’t come through. Going back to a corporate job after owning your own business can feel like you’re giving up, but there are also advantages to making that change. When trying to fit back into the corporate puzzle, make sure you think through all of your options and determine exactly what you want.


ONE: Many business owners quit entrepreneurship because they are tired of wearing all the hats from CEO to janitor. Entrepreneurs work longer and harder hours because they must fulfill every job role for the company unless they are able to hire other employees. As an entrepreneur, you aren’t just implementing someone else’s business model. You:

  • Create the business model
  • Network with clients
  • Make and take the phone calls
  • Implement plans
  • Take out the trash

Corporate jobs offer stability and direction of position. Many factors can play into leaving a self-started business such as a drastic life change or just simply not wanting to do it anymore.

TWO: When you do decide to go back to corporate, know how your skills translate to the job you want. More than likely you will try to go back to a desk job at the level or position title previously held. While that is well and good, you need to make sure all of your new skills from owning your own business are also applied to your repertoire. Prepare your resume with those skills, be proud of your accomplishments, and any knowledge you have gained. Don’t promote yourself as the ‘CEO’ but use a title that best describes your position — what you actually did during your business.

THREE: Make sure you address the pink elephant — the question that needs to be answered, not ignored. Why did you leave your business? You should be thinking about this long before your first interview. It should be a well prepared explanation and make the company feel at ease instead of worrying about how long you will be with them. You want to prove that you can and will be an asset and a member of their team. Make them realize you do have value, skills they need, and are not just looking for a rebound job. Don’t be overly detailed in explaining why you are leaving entrepreneurship, but give enough information to indicate your current and future intentions. If the business failed, own up to it, you tried, you put yourself on the line and did the best you could have done. State accomplishments and take what you have learned from the crash and use it to better yourself and the company you want to work for.

FOUR: Do your research. When you go back to corporate, you don’t want just any job. There was a reason you decided to pursue an entrepreneurship and you should follow the path you are passionate about.

  • Fitting Back In Rebounding Back to Corporate After Entrepreneurship Image by iosphere at

    Fitting Back In Rebounding Back to Corporate After Entrepreneurship
    Image by iosphere at

    Take advantage of networking opportunities with former colleagues and supervisors.

  • Find companies of interest and reach out to people who work there.
  • Schedule informational meetings and interviews.
  • Have a concise description of what you are looking for.

FIVE: You may encounter the grief roadblock — feel like you’re ‘selling out’ or ashamed of leaving your own business. Try your best to be positive and focus on your accomplishments, not your failures. Plan for a change in environment and adjust accordingly.

SIX: You need to learn as must as you can. Don’t walk into the job thinking that you already know everything about the position. There will be things you need to learn and things you have never heard of before. Pay attention to things that will give you an edge and how you can effectively cooperate in this new job. Conversely, you may be able to teach them something from your own experiences owning your business. Offer creative and constructive suggestions in a way that doesn’t make you sound like you know better than the boss.

Navigating back to a corporate job is challenging. You need to re-market yourself, rework your resume, and present yourself in a way that fits into a corporate lifestyle. You’ve gotten used to working for yourself — being laid back about some things and taking your time on projects but a corporation does not operate that way. You need to figure out how to work effectively on a 9-to-5 schedule and leave work knowing you were productive and worked hard. Knowing the culture of the company you are moving into can help you adjust more easily as well as let the company know your motives align with theirs. Once you have worked through all of the details, you will be able to see how every piece fits together and your function as one part of the corporate picture.

By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor

Your Job Search Might Get You Fired

Your Job Search Might Get You Fired

Recently, I was speaking with a terrified job seeker. She wants to leave her current role ethically, with a new role secured. However, she’s terrified that word might get out she’s looking–in the past, a few of her co-workers were fired when the executive team learned they were on the market.

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Could you get fired for looking for a new executive job?

Can They Fire You Merely for Looking for a New Job?

Your Job Search Might Get You Fired
Utah in particular is an at-will employment state. In other words, according to the Labor Commission of the State of Utah, the employee can quit a job at any time, and an employer can terminate the employment, at any time, without giving notice. The exceptions to this at-will rule include “(1) when the termination violates clear and substantial Utah public policy; (2) when an implied or express contractual term requires dismissal only for cause; or (3) a statute or regulation restricts the employer’s right to terminate.”

Do any of these exceptions cover “employee is exploring other options outside the organization to further his or her career”? The answer is murky.

The Employee’s Position

Your possible position, as a potential job seeker:

  • Your current company is not supporting you the way you need to be, so you might need to explore other options.
  • Your career is important, so advancement outside your current company might be essential.
  • What you do on your own time, outside of work hours, is your own business.

The Employer’s Position

Possible outcomes, if your current employer finds out you are looking for a new position:

  • It might begin planning for your departure, a structural change that might legally force you out of your current role.
  • Your co-workers might no longer regard you as a team player.
  • Your executive leader might choose to assign plum project to other personnel, in case you choose to leave your current role.

The Confidential Job Search

Your company culture, irrespective of your state’s employment laws, might support an employee’s termination if he or she is engaged in a public job search. Here are a few tips to keep your job search confidential:

  • Do not post your resume to job boards.
  • Apply only for positions that you would accept if the job was offered to you.
  • Tell recruiters you are working with that your job search is highly confidential.
  • Do not use your work email and/or work computer for your job search (under any circumstances).
  • Turn off your activity notifications on LinkedIn so your contacts won’t get emails when you update your profile.
  • Do not mention that you are looking for a new position in your LinkedIn profile. Instead, make sure it meets LinkedIn’s guidelines for “profile completeness” and you will be more findable.

Need more strategies for a confidential executive job search? Reach out to me; I’ll keep our conversations in the strictest of confidence.

Quit the Job Search Panic: Find Your Destination and Define Your Strategy

Quit the Job Search Panic: Find Your Destination and Define Your Strategy

Every week, I speak to at least one executive job seeker who is in panic mode. These executives are in job search panic, and you might be, too, for a variety of reasons:
Quit the Job Search Panic Find Your Destination and Define Your Strategy

  • You heard the company is restructuring and you might lose your job.
  • You know the company is laying you off soon.
  • You have been assigned to a new manager or executive.
  • You’ve been out of work for some time.
  • You’re a go-getter, and any time spent job searching is better spent actually working in your next role.
  • Or, the biggest cause of job-search panic: The wait between developing your resume and hearing back.

If you are experiencing any one of these panic-inducing scenarios, then you’re probably very concerned about when that next job offer is coming. You might even be applying like mad to every likely possibility on job boards or LinkedIn. I’ll bet money that it feels like a ton of work. I’ll bet it also feels like you’re a hamster on a wheel, exerting a ton of effort and going nowhere fast, and increasing your sense of panic all the while.

Calm the Job Search Panic: Get off the Job Search Hamster Wheel

Can you imagine a job search that fees calm, controlled, and panic free, not to mention EFFECTIVE?

Having worked with hundreds of clients throughout their job search, I’ve seen these situations come up dozens of times. In every case, an executive job seeker can shorten the time between job search panic and job search success with one or more of the following strategies:

Define your job search goal: If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there. Drive your job search forward by determining the type of company, the industry, the level, and the role you’re after.
Read voraciously: Explore industry resources, regional business journals, company web sites, and public relations pieces to inform your knowledge of the industry. You’ll learn more about the state of the employment economy by learning which companies are getting funded or are growing by reading about their goals and strategies than you will by reading their job postings.

Talk to people of influence: By “influence,” I mean people who can inform your strategy. These can be peers, industry insiders, and hiring managers. Remember: Not every conversation should start with a question about whether the person is willing to hire you.

Set up a job search project plan: As Rudy Giuliani said, “Because ‘change’ is not a destination, just as ‘hope’ is not a strategy.”

Quit the Job Search Panic: Find Your Destination and Define Your Strategy

By taking control of your job search and establishing your process and goal before you start, you will manage your job search panic, whether you’re concerned about your company’s layoffs or in the midst of an active job search now. You know the pieces of the puzzle you can control, so take action on your executive job search now to avoid that paralyzing job search panic.

Build Confidence to Launch Your Executive Job Search

Build Confidence to Launch Your Executive Job Search

An executive job search is one of the hardest things that you will ever do. Going through an executive job search could leave you feeling bruised and beaten down. Your level of confidence can get hit pretty hard if you have been turned down for an executive position or haven’t been able to get an interview so far in your executive job search. Instead of focusing on the discouragement, work on changing your perspective.

Anchor shaped word cloud with text about confidence

Confidence is the key to your successful executive job search.

As you prepare to conduct your executive job search you might currently be without a job, but previously employed—or have a job and want a change. Decades ago, people would start with one company and retire from the same company. In today’s world people can change jobs or even careers many times in their career lifetime. Factors such as corporate reorganizations, mergers, technology changes, and increased performance expectations have caused a huge increase in those looking for a job. These are all external factors to your job search, whereas a change of your internal mindset truly can affect your success.

There are several approaches that you can take to adjust your attitude and raise your confidence in finding that great job opportunity.

  1. Look at the whole picture—Write down what is working well and not so well for you. Focus on what you do well and work to change what does not work well. Recently, I learned that many companies coach their employees to play to their strengths, for the greater success of the entire team. You can take this approach in your executive job search.
  2. Ask others—Reach out to those that know you well or have worked with you in the past. Ask for their perspective on skills or attributes that they have noticed in you.
  3. Use your skills—Maintain your skill set. Keep current by using your skills either through volunteering or continuing education. When you do not keep current, you take the risk doubting whether you are still “up to the job.”
  4. Practice interviewing—Research and record a list of potential interview questions and practice with a trusted person. You will find yourself more at ease during an interview if you are prepared. At the same time, review your executive resume to brush up on your own history, so you can answer interview questions with confidence.
  5. Keep involved with your network—Your network is the key to your finding a new executive position. Not only will you keep up on your industry, but you also might discover job opportunities that become available. Feeling shaky on the networking front? Contact us for guidance.

Keeping yourself in a positive frame of mind is difficult when you are faced with the challenge of a job search. You can help yourself keep a positive mindset throughout your executive job search with these 5 reminders.

For more information on building confidence in an executive job search:

Is Your Lack Of Confidence Holding Your Job Search Back?

How to Build Your Job-Search Confidence

You Should Be Thankful You Didn’t Take that Job Offer

You Should Be Thankful You Didn’t Take that Job Offer

In the career management field, we measure our success by how well our clients succeed in the employment marketplace. This means we talk about and celebrate the number of interviews and job offers you, as an executive, receives. There are cases, however, in which we also value not accepting the job offer. Read on to learn more about why not taking the job can be a boon to your job search.

Is it time to walk away from an executive job offer?

Is it time to walk away from an executive job offer?

When executives are working steadily toward advancing their careers, they often view the job search as a numbers game–the more resumes they send out, the more interviews they theoretically should get, and the more competing offers they should receive. However, this thought process is faulty and doesn’t take into account the executive’s brand or corporate need. Nor does it account for the simple fact that not every job is right for a particular executive, and a particular executive isn’t right for every job.

We find that those executives who don’t know themselves well are willing to run away from what they are doing (or, realistically, their unemployment status) into any role that presents itself that isn’t, well, perfectly awful. As long as it’s reasonably good, the offer seems to be as good as any and certainly better than no offer at all.

However, those executives who take the time to explore their professional needs, wants, and goals have the fortitude and discernment to know when a role is wrong for them. Yes, it’s very hard to walk away from a process during which you’ve pursued a company and the company has pursued you. Being wanted is a heady thing. But when you reject a seemingly well-placed offer, you telegraph that you value your brand. You refuse to compromise on the value you can offer a company. You don’t let yourself be drawn into a role that predicts the wrong future for your career. You don’t eliminate the mental space or time in your calendar that will enable you to seek and achieve the executive role that is appropriate to your needs and aspirations.

In other words, you can be thankful, for once, that you didn’t take the job offer.

Are you not sure whether your offer is right for you? Call Five Strengths to discuss the value of this offer.

Image courtesy of Stock.xchng / gundolf.

Acknowledging Your Fear in Your Executive Career Change

Acknowledging Your Fear in Your Executive Career Change

There is nothing easy about executive career change. The path can have some surprising turns, but almost always, these new explorations can lead to real insight. As executive career coaches, we see how with self-exploration, executives in career change identify truths about their needs, goals, and career targets.

However, we also see those individuals who are clearly afraid of seeing something new inside themselves. They are most often blustery, willing to take all the credit, and unlikely to peel back the layers to their own fears to uncover what is really worrying them about the career change process.

Who remembers “Broadcast News,” a movie from the late 1980s? Jane’s the quintessential brilliant Type A reporter, Tom is a pretty face for TV news, and Paul Moore is the station executive. If you remember the movie, you might also remember this quote from it:

Paul Moore: It must be nice to always believe you know better, to always think you’re the smartest person in the room.
Jane Craig: No. It’s awful.

And Jane certainly means it. The character is “right” so often that she forgets how to be wrong. She’s so afraid of being overlooked, even though she’s clearly brilliant by any definition, she’s abrasive.

What if the movie went a different way? What if Jane openly agreed that her path to growth was difficult–and she acknowledged that she had real concerns about her ability to be successful? When executives in career transition face the fact that they might have to be vulnerable — in conversations with their coaches, in interviews, in career contract negotiations — they are likely to find that people are more than willing to help them. They’ll also find that being open about their fears doesn’t define them as incompetent or unlikeable. In fact, they might find just the opposite–that acknowledging their fears about their executive career change makes them seem more open to learning new things and more personable.

Do you think about the fears that hold you back from smart job search? Download our special report “3 Simple Steps to Clear Your Career Change Fear.” It’s free, and I want to share it with you. Thanks!

Measure Your Executive Career Success by the Number of Job Offers You Reject

Measure Your Executive Career Success by the Number of Job Offers You Reject

If you’re challenging yourself to find the right new executive opportunity, you’re hoping the next application you submit will result in a job offer. Then you can get out of the job you’re in and into something new. Something different, something…better?

Will any position do? “Yes,” you are thinking right now. “I’ll do anything, as long as it’s not what I’ve been doing.” If this is your thought process, borne of desperation, I challenge you to change it right now.

Recently, I wrote about how to run toward the perfect executive position, not away from it. I received a lot of comments from executives who all reported that they needed to get away from what they were doing. Up until that moment, they were willing to take almost any position, as long as it was with some other company.

Running toward the right position never actually struck them as a strategy, given the high level of stress and frustration they were trying to get away from every single day. They were taking interviews and would take offers from all comers. In fact, they might even have measured their success by the number of interview offers they received.

Can you imagine how these executives might feel in a year or two if they chose one of those offers, just because the offer came from a different company? Probably, they’d feel the same level of frustration and disillusionment they were experiencing in their former role. Wouldn’t you feel the same if you took a new role, only to find out in a year that it was a terrible fit for you?

Your Metric for Executive Career Search Success: The Number of Job Offers You Turn Down

Today I want you to look at your own pattern of executive career search. Count up the number of interviews you’ve received. How many of those would you have taken if you had received job offers from 100% of those interviews?

Now think about your experiences critically. Do you truly believe that each of those roles was right for you? Why or why not? How many of those interviews or job offers would you have consciously chosen to reject? Perhaps you never thought about it that way, and this is exactly my point. You should be even more particular about choosing not to accept an interview than you should be about choosing to participate in an interview. If you know from the start that a company or role would never meet your needs, however you define them, then you probably shouldn’t waste your time or that of the interviewer.

What, then, does the number of offers for interviews or jobs that you reject tell you about your strategy? Why is this metric critical to your overall success? This number tells you that you are evaluating future roles on their own merits, not based on the simple fact that the prospective position is not your current one.

The Value of Asking for Help in Your Executive Career Job Search

The Value of Asking for Help in Your Executive Career Job Search

If you’re contemplating a career change, you’ll know that executive job search is a lonely business. You probably believe you need to prevent your search from becoming water cooler talk–or worse. So you’re also probably wondering how you can be effective in your job search if you can’t talk about it. Read on for some tips on how to open yourself to new career options without exposing your plans unnecessarily.

1. Find an executive job search mentor

Although you might find it tough to open up to more than one person about your plans to exit your current executive role, you might find it easier to build a relationship with one key person whom you can trust to give you solid advice–a mentor. This person is likely to be

  • Best-in-class
  • Know a lot about the executive job function
  • Know a lot about the industry
  • Noncompetitive with you in any way, given that he/she sits several rungs above you on the traditional corporate ladder
  • Have your best interests in mind, although this person might not know you well enough to like you personally

In exchange for your request for mentorship, you must promise that person that you will not abuse the relationship by relying on him/her to offer you a specific executive job. This is not the role of this person in your executive job search; rather it is to support you with solid advice and insights available only to someone at that level.

2. Build a trusted board of personal directors for your executive career strategy

Your personal board of directors is a team of individuals whom you have asked formally or added tacitly to reflect back to you the knowledge and insights that you need to know, even when the truth is uncomfortable. You can choose this team based on their level, knowledge of your industry, or their willingness to be unflinchingly honest with you.

Although you can choose to have as many members on your personal board of directors as you wish, the core team should reflect at least these four types:

  • The Connector–one who knows many people and can facilitate introductions.
  • The Challenger–one who will not let you follow unsubstantiated lines of logic.
  • The Clarifier–one who will ask you question after question to help you uncover hidden truths about yourself and your executive environment.
  • The Wise Elder–one with senior status who serves as the typical mentor, listening to you and advising you.

3. Recruit a team of experts

A third option for you is to engage a team of experts in the executive career transition and executive coaching space, whose focus on you is guaranteed 100%. Although certainly not a step that every executive will take, and a step only for the extremely committed, engaging experts is a sure way to help you clarify your goals, motivation, messaging, and strategy related to your executive career search (read on for an example of this type of service).

Always Run to a Great Executive Career Opportunity, Not away from a Bad Career Fit

Always Run to a Great Executive Career Opportunity, Not away from a Bad Career Fit

Right now, you might be desperate to get out of your job–so much that you are willing to evaluate all potential executive opportunities just to get out of the place you’re in. Perhaps you wouldn’t call yourself desperate, but you’re probably not thinking with as much clarity as you’d like.

To decide whether you’re in this situation, consider your answers to the following:

Questions about Your State of Mind

1. Do you cringe at the thought of spending one more day at your desk?
2. Do you regret ever having taken on your current role?
3. Did something change so radically at your company that your current role bears limited resemblance to the position for which you were hired?

Questions about Your Strategy

4. Have you agreed to sit for interviews knowing that the position, company, or industry was the wrong one, simply because you’ll take any reasonable job offer at this point?
5. Did you accept a position just to get away from one you hated?
6. If so, how many times have you done that?

In this thumbnail assessment of your current situation, give yourself one point for each “yes” and add your total from #6. There’s no scale for this quiz, but you’ll know if you’ve got too many “yeses” in your answers.

Fortunately, You Can Stop Trying to Run Away from Your Current Role

I’m not suggesting that you stop looking for a new role, but I am suggesting that you stop fighting your current situation and focus your thinking and strategy on the right way to exit your company–into a career that is the best fit for you.

The worst thing you can be doing right now is telegraphing that you are trying to leave. It’s bad for your company, bad for your relationships at work, and a terrible mindset for you to embrace. You also run these risks:

  • Taking a job that you will dislike as much as the one you have now–just with another company.
  • Taking a lower-level position simply to have a source of income.
  • Taking a job that fulfills some short-term goal without contributing to your long-term career satisfaction.

Can you imagine yourself being truly happy in a job such as this? Likely, no.

Start Running toward the Best Career Fit for You–And Reap the Benefits of Amazing Career Satisfaction

Instead, start developing a strategic plan that turns your thinking outward to identify what’s next for you. By assessing what you do want in a career–perhaps simply the opposite of what you have now–you can create an initial set of fluid criteria that will guide your executive career search. You’ll position yourself to run toward the right role, so on that day when you finally separate from your current company, you can joyfully move forward into the best executive job you can achieve for yourself.

Imagine the satisfaction of that!

How to Save Time and Energy in Your Executive Career Change: Hard Work

How to Save Time and Energy in Your Executive Career Change: Hard Work

Allow me to take you through a common scenario. An executive is thinking about changing jobs, perhaps changing careers. He calls me up, believing the first thing he needs to do is acquire “a resume.” Of course, executive resume writing is what I do, so the conversation interests me. However, upon digging a bit deeper, I learned that the executive has so many questions about his or her career path that writing the resume now might actually delay the process. If you are reading this, you might also be thinking about having your executive resume professionally written. But will having your executive resume professionally written right now save you time and energy in your executive career change?

There Is No Easy Path to Growth

It has been said that there is no royal road to learning. In the same way, there is no royal road to executive job search success. Regardless of who you are, what your executive role is, and what your accomplishments have been over the last decade or more, job search is going to be hard. Few individual mechanisms on their own will guarantee that you save time in your job search. In fact, starting with a resume probably is not going to serve you.

The Best Way to Make Your Job Search Faster– Hard Work

Now, don’t get me wrong, I truly wish that the executive resume well-prepared, targeted, and replete with great accomplishments would solve all the job search questions that executives face. Usually, however, the question is much larger. The soul-searching that executives like yourself must go through to establish a direction that make sense, tap into a new network to identify the types of missions that are available, build the marketing program, and execute a successful job search– these all take time and a healthy dose of hard work. If you are looking for a quick fix, you are likely not to find one; if you talk to somebody who promises a quick fix, you might want to dig a little deeper both inside yourself and inside what you are being offered to determine if such a panacea is possible.

The Pareto Chart of Career Success Strategy

What does this type of hard work look like? What will get you the biggest bang for your strategic buck? Certainly, the resume is important, but it doesn’t usually make sense to create one until about midway through the process. Start by writing down what you believe to be the hardest part of creating a job search strategy. I would be willing to place money on a bet that you have chosen one of the following:Pareto Chart: Learn How to Choose a Time-Saving Path to Executive Career Change Success

  • Building a network
  • Figuring out what to say to your network
  • Identifying the right role for you
  • Describing the kind of company in which you want to work
  • For the most confused among you, figuring out the right industry for your new career path

As you can see, all of these questions need to be answered before you can embark on the resume writing process. Because a resume is a document with direction, you can be sure that if you don’t know where you are going, you absolutely will never get there–unless you have the right level of support and help.

As part of our executive career success strategy, we take a hard look at the most difficult aspects of the process, and we help you design a path to resolving the biggest questions first, Pareto chart-like style.

If you happen to believe that the hardest part of your executive career transition strategy is organizing your thoughts around what to do next, what to tackle first, or when you should engage an executive resume writer, don’t hesitate to call me. I am happy to help.