Professional Development Tips for Survivors

Written by: Destiny Brandt and Stephanie Ronay
Abuse can impact career growth. Many victims tend to have gaps in their resumes or “company hop” frequently due to their situation. This can discourage many from achieving their goals, but the truth is, survivors can be found in every workplace and industry, you just do not know their story.
If you are a survivor, you may be wondering how other survivors were able to overcome the isolation or find the confidence in themselves to accomplish their career goals after enduring so much abuse. We are happy to tell you that it is never too late to make this the first day to give up who you have been for who you can become. 
We recently teamed up with an incredible recruiter from Washington, Destiny Brandt, who overcame so much adversity and was never told to dream, let alone to dream big. She persevered, and by the age of 27 was able to afford a home, start a savings account, and now owns her own business.
While sharing personal experiences of extreme adversity may not be helpful to share in interviews, she was generous enough to offer resources that many survivors may not have access to on how to land your dream job.
How to break through the noise and approach an employer AFTER your resume has been submitted:

Find three or more decision-makers within the company with the title:

  •  HR Generalist / HR Manager
  • Recruiter (take a deep dive on their LinkedIn to see if they are the right person)
  • Sales Manager/VP of Sales (if you are a sales candidate) Marketing/VP Manager
  • General Manager
Send them a LinkedIn connection request, then message them through LinkedIn highlighting your skillset and accomplishments.
Hey {FIRST NAME}, thanks so much for the connection. I am interested in the {insert job title} position your company just posted.
Here is what I bring to the table:
  • Comfortable doing 150 outbound dials a day and 200+ personalized messages via LinkedIn and email campaigns
  • Consistently 150+% of quota
  • Managed a book of business of 25 key accounts and utilized my natural relationship building skills to expand those accounts bringing in 500k in revenue in q1 of 2020
  • President’s Club winner 2015-2019
  • A do whatever it takes approach to sales and a promise I will be the hardest working person you have ever hired

Can we set up a call so I can tell you more? I’m excited!

Phone number
Resume attached
Here is what to do once you land the interview:
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
For video interviews: (More common right now during COVID) Create an account for the platform you are interviewing. Be sure to use your full name as your username and a professional email with first name/last name. Check out the company’s social media to see if they have a suit up dress code or business casual, and dress to impress. Make sure you have the email of the person you interviewed with to send a thank you/follow up. Be aware of your body language; SMILE, sit up straight, speak clearly, and make eye contact. Confidence is key. Have sticky notes with your questions and notes around your computer screen. Ensure you have a notepad and a pen with you for notes. 
For in-person interviews: Arrive 30 minutes early and make time for parking and studying your notes. Again, make sure you have the email of the person you interviewed with to follow up. Dress to impress and be aware of your body language. Bring an additional copy of your resume, a notebook with your questions written down, and a pen to take notes.
How to answer the behavioral/situational type questions:
For example: “Give me an example of a time when you did not meet a client’s expectation. What happened, and how did you attempt to rectify the situation?”
Use the START Method:
Take Away

Loop this all back into the role you are applying for


Tell us about yourself?
This is a summary of your highlights: Education and related work experience and 3+ skill sets required for the position – loop it back into the role.
I graduated from xx during yy. I have 10+ years of customer service and administrative assistance experience, and in servicing c level executives. I am the type of person who brings three solutions to every problem, and I have high attention to detail and a customer-obsessed approach. I love staying busy and wearing many hats. I think I am perfect for this executive assistant position because it is the ideal opportunity for me based on my skill set and career goals.


I graduated from xx university with a degree in yy. I have 10+ years of administrative and operations experience. This taught me that I have excellent attention to detail and can succeed in a fast-paced, deadline-driven environment. For the last two years, I have been in a B2B sales position where I have built relationships with candidates and clients alike and managed the entire sales cycle from prospect to close. I have been consistently #1 on my sales team and have won many President’s Club Awards. I am the hybrid skillset I know you are looking for. I am competitive, and money motivated by nature but take the time to build trust and rapport. I am excited about this AE position you have available at Hiya because it is the perfect opportunity for me given my background and skillset, and I am eager to learn more and get started!


I graduated from xx university with a degree in yy. I have 5+ years as a recruiting analyst. I love wearing many hats and staying busy. I am strong at Excel and have the ability to analyze data and forecast. I am curious, technical, and consultative in my approach. This job is perfect for me because I am proactive, adaptable, and have close attention to detail and willingness to go the extra mile.
What do you know about our company? Why are you interested in our brand?
DO YOUR HOMEWORK – THIS IS A PITCH! Do not read off their website and repeat what you see. This is you selling them how much you have learned and WHY you want to work there. COMPLIMENT THEM! Look at their website, youtube, and LinkedIn. Show them your excitement. 
What do you know about this position, and what makes you a fit for this position?
This is where you make the connections between your experience and the requirements of the roles and focus on your metrics, activity, accomplishments and how you made your company money, saved them money, or improved something while you were there.
My understanding is this is a high volume prospecting position, and I will be responsible for representing our brand from prospect to close. This is perfect for me because I am hungry to be successful. I enjoy cold calling, email campaigns, and my personal favorite, creative and personalized LinkedIn outreach. Finding decision-makers and building a relationship with them comes naturally to me. I can persuade, influence, and to get a client to see the value in what products or services I am offering. I am strategic and consultative in my approach and find it easy to connect with people from all walks of life. I have been consistently 150-200% of quota, and I have a do whatever it takes approach in sales, and am very competitive by nature. I have won President’s Club 4 years in a row and am comfortable doing 100+ touches a day to generate revenue for my organization. I am curious, reliable, and love working independently and with a strong team. I have xx years of experience in your industry, and I am ready to take on this new challenge and make my way to your top performer’s club.


My understanding of this position is it is an executive assistant position. This is perfect for me as I have ten years of administrative experience and 5 of those years serving c level executives such as VP of marketing and the CEO of a large organization with over 15k employees. I am a jack/jill of all trades, and I can do everything from high volume scheduling, calendar management, graphic design, and the ability to analyze data and do graphs, pivot tables, and VH lookup in Excel. I love wearing many hats and staying busy and filling in wherever I am needed. I am proactive, a strong communicator and have been praised for my ability to fill in the blanks and deliver with minimal direction. I have a customer-obsessed approach, and a willingness and excitement to go above and beyond for the cross-functional teams I am representing. It sounds like this position is very similar to the last role I had, which is perfect because I have a passion for this line of work. I am eager to learn more and find out how I can be an asset to your growing teams!
Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels
Why did you leave your last position?
ALWAYS BE POSITIVE! Ready for a long term career with a growing and established company that strives to be the best in their industry. (Mention something unique about their brand that was not included in the “what do you know about our company” pitch.
Never say, “I want to learn more” or grow your skills. Employers do not want to teach you, they want their return on investment, and for you to hit the ground running.
How much money do you need?
Please do not discuss money or benefits. This interview is about you showing your value to the employer. If you have to talk about money it is best to talk about it in the later stages.
A script like this can work:
Based on what I see on payscale and Glassdoor someone with  2 – 4 years of experience, there would be a range of $50-$60k.  I have xx years of experience doing XYZ (key points in the job description like solving problems, customer service exceeding quota, so on) I would hope to be on (mid-range- high range) of that. I am eager to receive your best offer and can start as early as Monday. I know I have a lot to bring to the table, and I cannot wait to be an asset to your team and work as hard as possible to make you proud and make you look good for hiring me!
Questions to ask in an interview to prove your value – your questions are more important than theirs:

Tailor your questions depending on who you are speaking to; some questions are better for HR, while others are better for managers.


Come up with at least four well thought out questions based on your research that add VALUE. DO NOT ASK ABOUT PAY OR BENEFITS EVER. Do not do it.

  • What does success in this role look like?
  • Tell me about the best person you have ever hired for this position? What do they do that works?
  • What are the top 5 qualities you look for in someone when filling this position?
  • What examples can I give you now to prove to you that I have the skillset to be successful here?
  • What is your culture like, and do you see someone with my background and attitude meshing into your existing culture?
  • What is your leadership style like, and what is the best way to communicate with you? Questions, support, or ideas on how to grow the business?
  • Has anyone ever failed in this position? What can I do to not repeat their mistakes?
  • How many people have you interviewed for this position, and what has been missing? 
  • What is not on the job description that will help me go above and beyond on this role?
  • What challenges does this company face that I can help within my position?
  • If I wanted to get set up for success in the first 30 days, what are things I can be doing day 1?
  • What is your culture like, and do you see someone with my background and personality meshing well into your existing organization?
  • What books can I read or materials to study so I can hit the ground running in this job?
  • What is the biggest objection I will face and the best way to overcome that objection?
  • What books or homework can I do before my start date to be prepared?
  • What advice would you have for me based on your personal experiences with this company?
  • What are the next steps from here? I am so eager to learn more and add value to this organization.
  • Do you have any hesitations or concerns about my background that I can address at this time?


Final Steps:
Make sure you have their email to send a follow-up note. If you do not have it say “I have realized how important follow up is in my career, can I grab your email so I can do that soon?
Send a STRONG follow up
Make sure this follow up is in the body of an email. Do not make as an attachment. Have someone check for errors and formatting is essential. If you are unable to set up the next steps on the phone, include your availability in the last section of the note. This makes for easy scheduling when they are able to get availability for you.
Good luck and check out It’s Destiny Recruiting for more tips!

**If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence website at, chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777, or send a private message through our Facebook page. For crisis services, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.


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