Recommended Reading
  • How To Win Friends and Influence People
    How To Win Friends and Influence People
    by Dale Carnegie
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    Influence: Science and Practice (5th Edition)
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    In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies (Collins Business Essentials)
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  • The Art Of War
    The Art Of War
    by Sun Tzu
About this Blog

Debra Wheatman, President of Careers Done Write, provides expert insight to the job search process that puts your career in gear with tips for interviewing, networking, job search strategies and how to create a winning résumé and cover letter.

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Resume and advice blog from Debra Wheatman


Interview Dilemma Resolved: Explaining a Career Blip 

One of the most common dilemmas in a job search is the handling of a blip in your career.  The concern is that an employer may think less of a candidate who has taken a wrong turn.  Sometimes a candidate accepts a job and once in that new positions realizes this job is far from a match. Rather than stay in a bad situation, the candidate is actively job searching again.  How does one deal with that in an interview?  The worry and doubt set in: “What will this employer think of a candidate who is job searching after being in a job for only a month?”  Interviewing well requires confidence.  If you have a blip and are feeling insecure about your situation, you must overcome that insecurity before the interview.  You can overcome the insecurity, dismiss the doubt, and perform well in the interview if you follow these strategies.  

1.) Accept the situation.  Any amount of worrying is a waste of time and will drain your positive energy.  Move forward and prepare for an interview.  Focus on action you can take to make a positive impression in an interview.

2.) Review Your Resume.  Be sure that you resume does not contain negative statements about your current employer.  Like any job description on your resume, show the scope of your responsibility and tout your top accomplishments. Skip any defensive statements, such as “Took job offer with understanding that I would be director of Southwest operations, only to arrive in position with new VP of Sales who placed me in territory with low prospects.”  A better way to explain that might be, “Selected to turnaround low-performing territory.”

3.) Anticipate Tough Questions.  Be ready to for the question, “Why are you looking for a job when you have only been at ABC Company for two months?”  The interview is the best forum to address this issue.  You can explain the reason you accepted the job. Think back about what attracted you to the company and job.  Share those positive things and that after careful consideration you accepted the job.  Then say that after you had begun to work at the new employer, the actual job did not match what was described through the interview.  Your response and discussion will vary based on the situation.  Reasons might include indications that your new position may be eliminated, management changes that resulted in a new structure internally, news of a physical relocation of your job or changes in your actual job responsibilities.  

We often think that everyone else has a perfect, progressive career path without bumps  or missteps.  The truth is most people experience unexpected bumps along their career path.  It is natural for a hiring employer to inquire about these blips in your history, so be prepared. The secrets to nailing this type of question are to be confident, be positive, and show that you accepted the last position after careful consideration and then things changed beyond your control.  


Interview Rescue

Perhaps you’ve seen one of the dozens of shows on cable TV with the rescue theme.   In a single weekend, you can watch shows about rescuing a bar, rehabbing a home, salvaging a failing restaurant, and saving a business from bankruptcy.   I propose a new show…interview rescue.   The opening scene will show a job candidate in the conference room with a rapidly beating heart and a sinking feeling. The candidate has realized that he is  tanking the interview.  This candidate needs a rescue! 

S-O-S…Time to implement three tips to rescue yourself from interview failure!

Stay Calm

There are times when you slip in an interview.  Perhaps you have a momentary lapse and forgot something you should know.  Or, perhaps you fell short when trying to demonstrate you can handle a particular task.  Your heart begins to beat faster, and you feel as though you might as well say, “Thank you and goodbye.”  It is not over, until it is over.  It is important that you stay calm.   Take a deep breath and relax.  Return your focus to the interview.  If you stay calm and stay in the moment, you have a chance to regain your footing.

Organize Your Thoughts

Jot a note about the question or weak response, so you can review that information.  As you relax and continue the interview discussion, you’ll likely think of items to share to better address the question that stumped you before.  Make quick notes as these thoughts occur.  Later, during a pause in the conversation or near the interview’s end, ask the interviewer if you can share additional remarks.  With organized thoughts, you can recover to give a stronger answer and leave a better impression.

Steer the Conversation

Sometimes in an interview you will notice the interviewer has a particular impression of you.  Perhaps you are picking up that they find your experience is light in certain areas.  Cues for this might be questions that start with, “Are you sure you are prepared to…”  Another cue might be, “What makes you think you would do well as a…”  This is when you need to strongly assert yourself and state the case for your candidacy.   Steer the conversation and share examples of accomplishments and the scope of your recent authority.  This is how you overcome the interviewer’s perception and win the day.

If you are ever in need of an interview rescue, just remember S-O-S.   Stay calm, organize your thoughts, and steer the conversation to tout the value you offer.  You’ll regain your confidence and save a sinking interview.


The LinkedIn Headline: Your Brand in 120 Words or Less

Most parts of your LinkedIn profile are fairly straight-forward.  Complete this, select that, edit thoughtfully, and you are on your way to a new LinkedIn profile.  The stumbling block for many is the headline.  You have 120 characters to brand yourself, get located through keywords, and attract the reader to explore the rest of your headline.  That small space on your profile carries a lot of weight.  Let’s tackle some of the common questions about the LinkedIn headline.

What is a LinkedIn profile headline?

The LinkedIn profile headline is below your name at the top of your profile.  Your photo, name, and headline are the first things viewers will see.

What happens if you skip the headline?

Nice try.  If you skip the headline, LinkedIn will fill the headline space with your current job title and employer. Skipping the effort and allowing the default is not a good choice. This is prime marketing real estate – and it’s free!  Customizing your headline is crucial to your brand. Why miss this branding opportunity? Take the time to consider what you want the world to know about your expertise.  Create a short, but impactful headline to help engage the reader and give you the opportunity to establish your credibility.

What makes a headline effective?

First we should define the purpose so we can understand what is effective.  The point of the profile is to introduce keywords.  Recruiters and hiring employers can perform searches based on criteria and keywords.  Scrutinize your word choices, so you have a better chance of being found.  Secondly, you want those that find you to be interested.  Again, carefully choose the words that indicate the value you bring to your target job.  Try viewing other profiles of professionals with jobs similar to your target job.  Also, view job postings to see what employers find valuable. You can then introduce key words and examples in the summary and throughout the profile to establish and manage your brand.

What are the recommended headline styles?

There are different approaches to the headline.  You could start with your title, followed by keywords that define your areas of expertise.  If you are a consultant, you could share keywords describing your services.

Do you possess a unique certification or degree?  Differentiators are great content for your headline. If you list a series of keywords, you can use some accepted symbols to help the information stand out.

What headline tactics should I avoid?

  • Do not shout. In other words, do not use all uppercase letters.
  • Avoid desperate pleas for jobs.
  • Cut the fluff, such as “Innovative and creative problem solver.”
  • Omit contact information.  This is not the correct section for your contact details. There are other areas on the profile where you can include contact information.
  • Offbeat humor and politically incorrect statements can be harmful to your  career.

The headline on LinkedIn is an excellent branding opportunity.   Take advantage of those 120 characters to communicate what you do well and the value your bring.   If you would like help crafting your profile, contact me.  I would love to be a part of extending your brand through LinkedIn.