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


Don’t Go over Your Manager’s Head

Are you having a problem with your direct manager? Are you thinking about going over your manager’s head? If your instincts tell you that it is a bad idea, you are right. By not respecting the chain of command, you'll alienate your manager and potentially your manager’s colleagues. 

Your secret is not safe.

Even if you ask your manager’s boss not to tell, you cannot rely on the fact that the conversation will remain a secret. How can she correct the issue without involving your manager? If you go above your manager, she will know it. After your manager knows, your relationship will not be the same. You'll be the one working to rebuild the relationship, and it will be a long, tough road. 

So, play it smart. If you have a complaint, be direct and honest with your boss. 

If your manager seems to have no interest in your issue, approach it differently. Draft talking points with language such as, "I hear you saying that you don't think we need to add temporary phone reps for the holidays. I feel frustrated because I want our department to succeed, and my projections show our hold times will increase tenfold if we do not add temporary staff. Would you like me to create a report to demonstrate these projections to justify the cost to senior management?" With language of this type, you are demonstrating that you are part of the solution. 

It is unwise to usurp your boss. 

Your boss has the authority to make decisions regarding your department. However, if you are concerned that her misjudgments will later be blamed on you, send her an email message documenting her decision. Try something like, "Thanks for our meeting today. As you advised, I will not hire temporary staff. Instead, we will begin ten hours of overtime per week. I'll alert you if our hold times or abandon rates are outside of company metrics." 

When is it alright to go over your manager’s head?

There are unusual times when you should go to your manager’s boss or the Human Resources Manager. Here are examples of those scenarios: 

If your manager is doing something illegal. 

If your boss has a serious mental illness or substance abuse issue of which you are aware, and it is affecting the security of staff or the operations of the company. 

If your boss is doing something that exposes the company to a lawsuit, such as sexual harassment. 

These are examples of highly confidential issues.  Don’t discuss the issues with anyone other than your manager’s manager or Human Resources. Document your conversation with that person in an email.  Be aware that the email may be part of a lawsuit, so choose your words carefully. 

Going over your manager’s head can be harmful to your current employment.  Always carefully select your words when discussing disagreements with your manager.  Think twice before going over your manager’s head.  Consider the long-term effects this could have on your job and career. 


How Your Employer’s Brand Affects Your Brand

Your personal brand is comprised of many things.  Some aspects of your brand change and develop over time.  However, some aspects of your brand stick with you for many years. Examples of lasting brand aspects that define you include your education and your employers. Particularly for the ten years following your association with a certain company, you are partially defined by that company.  Let’s consider how your employer’s brand affects your personal brand and your job search.

Search Criteria

Recruiters and employers establish search criteria to find candidates.   Search criteria is a collection of keywords meant to identify suitable candidates.  In many cases, recruiters and candidates use company names as search criteria so they can find candidates currently working at a company or with prior experience at a particular company.  That is an example of how an employer with a strong brand, such as Google or Goldman Sachs, can elevate your brand.

Corporate Alumni Groups

Working for the same company, even across different locations or departments, facilitates bonding.   If you join corporate alumni groups, on LinkedIn for example, you can connect with others from your former employer.  If you are a current or a former employer of a large company, participate in online corporate alumni groups.  Your employment gives you entre to this special group and is a definite brand builder.

Reputation by Association

Does your employer have a reputation for “cheesy” advertisements, low-quality products, fraud, or poor customer service?  If so, that reputation can follow you and tarnish your brand.  The longer you stay at that employer, the worse the impact can be.  The lesson is to carefully vet prospective employers. Before accepting a job offer, be sure this is an employer with whom you want to be linked.

Seal of Approval

Some companies have such a robust brand that your employment at that company can open doors for you at hiring companies, clients, and investors.  This is because top companies can afford to be very selective.  If you attain a job with one of those upper echelon companies, it is well-known that you were selected under close scrutiny and that you were the best of the candidate pool.  Other companies are recognized for exceptional training programs so employers feel comfortable that you are well-trained.

Your brand is something of value that you should carefully develop and protect.  If you have employers in your past that are lack-luster, take control of that situation.  If this employment was more than ten years ago, omit it from your resume and online profiles.  If it is a recent history, be clear about your role and place in the company to separate yourself from the “unflattering” aspect of the company.   Give more attention to more appealing parts of your career history.  If you are connected to a positive brand, feature that connection on your resume and online profile. Build your brand by linking yourself to employers with strong, positive brands and you’ll be rewarded with a boost to your brand. 


Conference Time: Never Miss a Great Networking Opportunity Again!

Networking at a conference is akin to shooting fish in a barrel.  It’s a perfect situation in which you have dozens or perhaps hundreds of professionals who share an industry, occupation, a market, or use of similar specialized technologies.  Interesting and valuable contacts are there, ready for you to meet. Yet, how often do you leave a conference with a pocketful of cards for people you never intend to contact? The following are a few tips so you will never miss a great networking opportunity again.

Plan Ahead.

Review the attendee list in advance.  Scope out people that you would like to meet.  Ask the event coordinators if there is a way to connect with your top two or three targets. You might find that their company is a host for one of the mixers or perhaps they are volunteering at one of the activities.  Also, keep an eye on nametags; you might meet one of their co-workers who can help make a connection.

Location. Location. Location.

Hotel rooms at the conference site sell-out quickly.  Book early so you can stay at the site. If not, find a place within walking distance. Tap into networking opportunities in the hotel common areas, including the restaurant, business center, bar, and lobby.

Early Bird….

Always arrive early to mixers, workshops, and presentations.  This gives you the advantage of greeting your targets as they arrive, as well as a change to meet the presenter and hosts.


Working at the registration desk, an information table, or a reception table allows you to meet many attendees as well as the event organizers.  It also places you in a position of responsibility, which is good for your brand.

Quality over Quantity.

When it comes to building relationships over a short period, quality over quantity is best.  Better to meet three excellent contacts than to hand out your business card to 40 people with whom you may never speak again.

Good follow-up.

Exchange contact information at the appropriate moment.  Take notes on the back of business cards or via your smartphone so you can recall key points about each contact following the conference. After the conference, use this information to send a brief follow-up message. If you promised any information, be sure to share it promptly. 

Make a commitment to never miss a networking opportunity, especially at professional conferences.  Establish a strategy using the above suggestions and act with purpose throughout the conference.  The result will be one, two, or more valuable connections.