Expert Interview with Debra Wheatman on Being an Effective Job Seeker

debra wehatman

In today's competitive job market, one thing every job seeker must do to stand out is establish and evangelize what you're known for and how you're perceived by the rest of the market, says Debra Wheatman of Careers Done Write.

This process of personal branding ensures that you're sharing a consistent and professional message with potential employers and helping people recognize your areas of knowledge and expertise.

"A positive and effective brand will enable you to proactively and positively make an impact as a professional. It establishes credibility," the certified resume writer and career coach says. "You can really differentiate yourself from the competition with a solid and well-developed brand."

We recently checked in with Wheatman to learn about her company and get advice on how to land that next big job.

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We'd love to hear about your background and how you got started.

I began my career in financial services and subsequently transitioned to media and entertainment. All of my roles involved human resources and working with staff as well as senior leaders to ensure employees were motivated and productive. I did a lot of recruiting and employee relations work — both things I really enjoyed.

As far as hobbies, I am an avid world traveler, reader (particularly the classics), exercise enthusiast, and I collect "Silver Age" comic books. My most important role is raising my three wonderful kids.


Tell us about Careers Done Write; what services do you offer?

Careers Done Write is a marketing and branding company for individuals. We provide a holistic approach to help job seekers pursue new opportunities and then market themselves appropriately.

I think the most important value add of the company is that we partner with our customers over time. From the point of engagement until they secure employment, we are there to help them and provide assistance. This is particularly important in the type of job market we are seeing right now.

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The company offers a wide variety of career services, including resume and cover letter preparation, Linkedin bio writing, digital resume preparation, professional bios, transition services, career coaching, interview coaching, salary negotiation training, brand profile development, job search assistance as well as other related services that job seekers might need.


Who should be using your services?

Any professional looking to establish him or herself as a knowledgeable and effective job seeker should use our services. We provide people with the tools and techniques to be successful. Our patented methodology has been highly effective in helping people not only uncover what they might want to do, but we also help people establish and execute a roadmap for success.

People who work with us reduce the time it takes to identify and secure offers of full-time employment by a significant amount of time. This is a compelling value given the competitive nature of the market.

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What questions do you think job seekers should ask themselves when trying to identify their career goals?

There are a number of tools out there that will allow job seekers to do some self-directed research to help uncover strengths, weaknesses and identify potential roles. I often tell my clients to consider the things they have done in the past and reflect upon the areas of enjoyment as a starting point. When working together, I review all of those things with people to help with the idea generation process. Sometimes I find that it is helpful to start with what you don't want to do and work backwards. I have found that people know what they don't want before they know what they do want.


What are the biggest complaints or frustrations your clients come to you with?

By far the biggest complaint is that job seekers apply for positions for which they are qualified and never hear a word from the company. The other big complaint is that they interview and follow up appropriately but nobody ever responds with any information. I can understand why someone would be frustrated with that. There seems to be no etiquette or protocol that companies follow.


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What are the most common mistakes you see clients making on their resumes?

Candidates make some pretty serious strategic errors when creating their resumes. Beyond obvious spelling and grammatical gaffes, they grossly undersell their capabilities and fail to capture key results of their professional efforts. This lack of critical information precludes many candidates from being called for interviews.


What are some things that every job seeker should do in order to stand out in this competitive job market?

Job seekers need to be proactive as opposed to reactive when searching for new opportunities. Many people launch an online campaign to job search – meaning they post on job boards and respond online.

That is not a search strategy. A search strategy is comprised of many different things, including building an online presence on Linkedin, Twitter, Google+ or other platforms; working with a select group of recruiters; networking with friends; and attending networking and other professional meetings. Searching for work, especially in a competitive market, requires diligence, persistence and a variety of search activities to be successful.


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What should job seekers do to prepare for an interview? What are some interview No-No's?

In preparation for an interview job seekers should review their own resume. I have found that when asked, a lot of people cannot remember what they did. If something is on the resume, the candidate should be able to speak about it clearly and with conviction. "I don't remember," should not be a part of any conversation.

Practicing with another person, doing research on commonly asked questions, and, of course, working with a coach to be prepared can help someone stand out from the competition.

Interview no-no's include eating during the interview (it happens), answering a cell phone (this also happens!), interrupting the interviewer, and showing up late with some traffic story. Of course, there are many other mistakes!


How do you direct your clients on managing their online reputations when they're on the job hunt?

The first thing you must do is Google yourself. I always tell my clients: "Don't put anything online that you wouldn't be OK with having your grandmother see." Hiring managers and recruiters are looking for things online about candidates. I generally tell people not to post pictures that would be consider unprofessional or compromise their value in any way. I also tell people not to talk about the following topics: sex, politics, morality and religion. At the end of the day these are arguments where there is no winner.

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