Recommended Reading
  • How To Win Friends and Influence People
    How To Win Friends and Influence People
    by Dale Carnegie
  • Influence: Science and Practice (5th Edition)
    Influence: Science and Practice (5th Edition)
    by Robert B. Cialdini
  • The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker's Essential Writings on Management (Collins Business Essentials)
    The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker's Essential Writings on Management (Collins Business Essentials)
    by Peter F. Drucker
  • Little Black Book of Connections: 6.5 Assets for Networking Your Way to Rich Relationships
    Little Black Book of Connections: 6.5 Assets for Networking Your Way to Rich Relationships
    by Jeffrey Gitomer
  • The 48 Laws of Power
    The 48 Laws of Power
    by Robert Greene
  • In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies (Collins Business Essentials)
    In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies (Collins Business Essentials)
    by Thomas J. Peters, Robert H. Waterman
  • 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


Be Smart: Create an Interview Prep File

One of the biggest mistakes one could make going into an interview is a lack of preparation. It is crucial to conduct research and predict the type of questions that may be asked. Composing your answers and making reference notes will help you stay on your toes during the interview. What makes your different and better from the rest?  That’s what the hiring employer wants to know. By drafting key selling points, your answers will flow effortlessly during the interview. Lastly, your prep file should contain details to help you arrive at the interview on time. 

Predicted Questions

When preparing for an interview, research online resources to find common questions reported to have been asked by the target employer. Also, search for questions commonly asked of candidates seeking your target job. Websites, such as or, provide you with questions that were asked of other candidates. Some industry niche sites will provide example questions for particular occupations. 

Next, draft your answers to these questions. Under pressure, you might forget this information and give a less than a desirable answer. The best way to overcome this is to keep these notes handy for the interview using an old school paper tablet in a portfolio or a more efficient electronic tablet. If you freeze up when asked a tough question, you can take a quick glance at your notes and get yourself back on track. However, never read your notes word-for-word.  These brief notes should be an inspiration to help you answer the questions. Always ask the interviewer if you can keep a notepad during the interview. Otherwise, commit your information to memory.

Key Selling Points

Draft and save key selling points. Strive for at least three talking points that demonstrate why you are an ideal candidate. The notes should serve as your cue to help you recall your top values, but you should have the examples memorized. That should not be too difficult as these stories are drawn from your personal career history. Use these selling points as content that you can integrate into answers to questions posed. Don’t worry if did not get a chance to use one of your points in an answer. Quite often at the end of the interview, you will be asked if there is anything that you would like to share.  That will be your chance to share those additional selling points.

Directions and Other Materials

An often forgotten piece of information in preparing for an interview is a printed copy of directions to the interview location. Don’t rely on your smartphone because you never know when you might have a phone malfunction or lose your connection. It doesn’t matter to the employer why you were late; all they see is that you didn’t take the proper steps to arrive on time. Also include an interview day checklist in your interview prep file. This may include things to pack and things to be done, such as fueling your car and charging your cell phone or tablet.

Being prepared for an interview is paramount, and it goes beyond being qualified and knowing what to say. You must have notes for any questions that they can throw at you and have concise points that demonstrate why you would be a strong asset to the company. Arriving prepared informs the interviewers that your take pride in your work and care deeply about landing a position in their company.


Resume Help: Education Quandaries

In today’s Resume Help example, we examine the education portion of this resume.  Normally, the education portion of the resume is the easiest to write.  The candidate notes the name of the college, degree, field of study, and honors.  It can get tricky when a candidate has incomplete degrees or studies not related to their current career goal, as in the case of today’s resume.

1.)  Dates:  Candidates with several years of work history don’t need to show years for studies or graduation dates.  However recent graduates should show the year of graduation in order to make it clear why they have limited work history. 

2.) Incomplete Degrees:  If a candidate did not complete the degree, there are a couple of options from which you can choose.  If the degree is in progress, it is best to show an anticipated year of graduation.  (Anticipated 6/2016)  If the candidate is not actively working on the degree, it can be expressed as coursework. (Coursework: Business Administration) In today’s example, the candidate worked toward a Nursing/Physician’s Assistant degree for almost ten years.  It would be best to show it as coursework, but omit the years dedicated to the effort.

3.) Degrees Not Related to Current Goals:  In today’s example, the candidate’s studies have included healthcare, graphic design, and business administration.  The education spans 18 years and none culminated in a degree.  It could appear that the candidate is not focused.  It is best to omit the coursework that does not support the goal.  If this candidate is no longer interested in the healthcare industry, it would be best to omit the early coursework and certificate from the 1990s. 

If you are facing a resume conundrum, contact me.  I would be happy to help you with your new resume.  Would like to read more on the topic of resume writing?  Please check out these blog entries:

Resume Help:  Creating a Compelling Profile

Resume Help:  Order on the Résumé!

Should Computer Skills Be Included If You Are Seeking a Non-technical Job?



How Can I Ensure I Receive a Positive Reference from a Previous Employer?

Dear Deb:

I am considering a career move. How can I be sure my prior employers will not say negative things about me?   I have always left on good terms and received excellent reviews in all but one job.  One of my past bosses (from 8 years ago) was a really stern person who never gave “excellent” reviews, ever.  The best any of us received was “satisfactory.”   My concern is that she would be the same way if called.  How do I handle this?

Thank you,


Dear Alisa:

There are a few factors to consider.  Many companies have a policy for the HR Manager to field all employment verification questions so the requests are handled properly. Many employers will simply provide dates of employment, job title, and department.   Secondly, it appears this has not been a problem as you have been hired since that time (at least once).  If it is still of concern, you can hire a reference checking service.  They will contact your past employers and send you a report of what the employer said. This could give you peace of mind.  Lastly, you can take the proactive approach and connect with your past managers on LinkedIn. Keeping the connection live can help keep the relationship on positive terms.

Wishing you all the best in your job search!