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


My Occupation Is Changing -- What Should I Do?

Dear Deb:

I have been in my industry for 27 years.   I am a media buyer, mostly cable and infomercials.  My occupation is changing and when my previous employer was bought by a large international company, I was downsized.  The problem is that companies are using more sophisticated specialized software and reporting systems.  In the past, I had information fed to me.  In new roles, they are asking for more advanced software and analytical skills.   At this stage in my career, I am not about to learn new programs or software.  I can open and use Excel sheet and can create simple Word documents. 

I am feeling really desperate as a single woman with a child in college.  I can’t afford to retire and am not equipped to become a computer expert.   How can I explain to the hiring companies that my 27 years in the media buying business for top name brands (infomercials anyone would recognize!) that I am of value without computer skills?

Thank you!


Dear Loretta:

I understand your frustration.  Perhaps you could approach this as a time to reinvent yourself.  I am not suggesting that you do something that you dislike.  However, I am suggesting that you expand your horizon a bit so that you have the basic skills that are expected of any professional.  Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Take courses (one at a time) to update your basic computer skills so that you are proficient and comfortable using MS Word and Excel.
  • Explore other career options within your industry.  Perhaps you can move into a client relations role that does not require the analytical expertise.  While exploring those options, identify the “must have” software skills in each of the roles that you are targeting. Be open to building those skills.
  • If you are feeling overwhelmed with your career planning, try working with a career coach.

Don’t allow the changes in the business world to be an excuse for you to become irrelevant in today’s market.  There are plenty of resources to help you build new skills and also many options for a new career path should you decide to make a change.

Wishing you all the best!



Brand Building: Are You Living in a Bubble?

Someone once told me that if you pay attention to what a person says, over time they will reveal their genuine self.  What you say can alter your brand.   After all, we are a product of our life experiences and the knowledge we gather informs our perspective.   If you are living in a bubble, you run the risk of projecting a brand that is myopic or ill-informed.  That inhibits your ability to connect with others and may reduce your networking circle.

Here are a few statements from someone who may be living in a bubble:  

1.) “We have always handled things this way, so there is no need to change!”

Being closed to new ideas or new ways of doing things is a brand burner.  Your method may be the best.  But new ideas spark innovation and creativity. Who knows, you might uncover something new and exciting that will change the way things have been operating for the better. Be open to others’ ideas and don’t forget to collaborate.   When you “dig in your heels,” you potentially create a brand and lacks the desire to learn and grow.

2.) “Everyone I know has a bachelor’s degree.   People without degrees are not as valuable in the workplace.”

According to reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 34% of Americans over the age of 24 hold a bachelor’s degree or higher.  The majority of jobs in America are held by people with some or no college education. They work in a wide range of valuable roles, including skilled trade, customer service, healthcare services, and administration.  If you don’t recognize the value of those without degrees (or with less education than yourself), you risk creating a brand of someone that is an elitist or unable to see the big picture in the work environment.  Not smart!

3.) “My manager never tells me what is going on.”

I If you passively wait for news to be delivered to you, you might miss a lot of valuable information.   Your manager may not know what you don’t know.  If you have a gap in knowledge about a new project or product expansion, you need to take the initiative to become educated. Take charge of your situation. You don’t want to earn a reputation as someone who is out of the loop and also doesn't care enough to be proactive.

4.) “If it were important for me to take the time to complete the ABC certification or go to the spring conference, somebody would have told me.  This company is horrible at supporting my professional growth.”

A statement like this immediately brands you as unmotivated.   If you want to be branded as motivated, eager, and upwardly-mobile, independently seek opportunities for professional growth.  Join professional associations, earn relevant certifications, and attend key industry conferences.  Don’t wait for an invitation. Take charge of your growth.

The Bottom Line

Think before you speak.  Even statements spoken casually can harm your brand.  The deeper issue is that these statements stem from thoughts that indicate a person’s inward thinking that may be preventing the person from building a powerful professional brand.  Take the time to consider new ideas, seek the latest information, and earnestly take the initiative to develop yourself professionally.  With a bit of effort, you can burst out of your bubble to develop and promote a lasting and meaningful professional brand.


Resume Help: Are You Sure about How to Present Your Education?

Education is an important qualification on the resume.  Therefore, it is important to present your education in the proper format and in a position to balance your education and experience.  Today’s example resume could be improved by changing the location of the education and editing the actual content in the education category.

1.)  Move the Education Section

This candidate completed her degree six years ago.  She has more than six years of professional experience.  Therefore, her education should be placed after her professional experience on her resume. Her degree may be a qualification for the job and validate her as a strong candidate.  However, her recent experience in her target industry is more relevant at this stage. 

2.) Use the Actual Name of the Degree

Surprisingly, many graduates don’t know (or accurately present) the name of their degree.  Some even misspell a degree name.   In this case, we verified the degree with the college.  Today’s candidate earned a Master of Business Administration degree but presented it otherwise.  There was no named major.  In other words, the major field of study is implied in the degree name.  The lesson to learn is that if you are unsure of your degree name, check with your college or take a look at your diploma.

3.) How & When to Display Graduation Dates

It is appropriate for a recent graduate to display the year of graduation.  The words, “Class of ___” are not necessary or appropriate.  Simply place the year after the degree name, separated by a comma or enclosed in parentheses.   The reason is it necessary for recent grads is to justify the lack of professional experience. However, established professionals do not need to show the year.  More mature candidates should avoid the date entirely.  This is common practice.

If you are unclear about how to present your education, contact me.  I would be happy to assist you with your resume’s education section or any aspect of your career documents.   To read additional resume writing tips, check out these blog entries.

Resume Help:  Style Points

Resume Help: Categorizing Skills & Achievements

Formatting the Education & Professional Credentials Section