Career Guidance

Inspirational Women: Violeta Ayala

Each week, SHESAID features an inspiring woman who has been kind enough to share her story with our readers. She might be a leader in her chosen field, someone still on their own path striving to make a difference or simply someone with a remarkable story to tell. These women contribute their own knowledge, expertise and life lessons in order to truly inspire others.

RELATED Inspirational Women: Nicole Lamond Philp

Name and role.

Violeta Ayala, an independent filmmaker. I write, direct and produce films.

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

My days are so different depending on which stage I am at on a film. There’s researching, shooting, editing or knowing when I’m promoting my next film on the festival circuit. Sometime I have to do all of them at once, but on different films.

At the moment, I’m working on a film trilogy. I’m promoting The Bolivian Case on the festival circuit, Cocaine Prison is in the edit suite and due to be completed by the end of the year and South Meets North is in development. I’m writing a feature film screenplay called Cocaine Queens. I’m also working on a personal film about the birth of my daughter – I really wanted a natural birth and being swept up in the emotional roller-coaster that pregnancy is and how I got caught up with the wrong doctor.

The short story is that after 33 hours of labor, I couldn’t give birth naturally and I had to demand a c-section. The next seven days were the hardest in my life, to see my little baby fighting for her life in intensive care. Fortunately she’s now a year old and a very healthy & happy little girl.

I travel a lot and have to work on the road. I have an office I’m rarely in. Once I begin making a film, I work 24 hours a day. My head just doesn’t stop thinking about it – sort of like how it is taking care of your kids. At the moment I’m breastfeeding Suri and feed her while I’m writing, traveling and even as I spend a lot of time in the public. I even breastfed her the other night in the cinema during the world premiere of The Bolivian Case. Motherhood has grounded me as a woman and as a filmmaker.

How/when did you know this what you wanted to do as a career?

I was born with severe dyspraxia, but paradoxically I was also born with a talent for telling stories. As a little girl, I used to write plays with my brothers and we’d perform them on special family occasions. We also had a family monthly newspaper, which considering how young we were, was surprisingly well produced.

In my teens, I became a theatre actress and performed in London, New York, Paris, Rome, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo and Edinburgh – we toured the world for about a year. My mum was a doctor and always wanted me to go to university but I felt university was too boring.

After the theatre, I traveled all through Latin America, the US and South East Asia, working odd jobs and that was when I decided to go to University. I studied communications at Charles Sturt University and luckily discovered my future career.

I was in second year and had a class in video production, as soon as I saw how a film was edited together, something in my head clicked and I instantly understood how to make films. I spent the next two years at University exploring filmmaking, shooting during the days and editing during the nights, making short films about everything. I even made films for every member of my family as a Christmas present. I’d found a new way to express myself and I just couldn’t stop. It’s been a process of discovery ever since and I’m now making feature films which I find exciting.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I find stories through the people I meet. I’m very curious and talk to everyone. I’m not afraid to talk to anyone from the taxi driver or someone on the street selling things, to the president of a country or a convicted drug trafficker. We’re all people and once you start a conversation it’s often surprising what people tell you, if you only ask.

“Everyone has a story to tell and quite often the most interesting stories come from the people you least expect.”

I’m interested in telling stories relevant to the times we’re living, but I’m a little bit confrontational so I like to tell stories from a different or unexpected perspective. By telling the stories of the people whom society shuns, for instance in The Bolivian Case, I tell the story of a group of people the justice system considers criminals. I give the audience an alternative view to the main stream media and by doing so I challenge the status quo in this case of the War on Drugs.

Did you have a mentor? Who/what helped you to get your career off the ground?

Filmmaking is a very collaborative process and I’ve worked with many talented people from whom I’ve learned a lot. The person I’ve learned the most from is my creative and life partner of the past 9 years, Dan Fallshaw.

I’m also terribly fortunate to have been supported by the wonderful people behind some of the world’s most prestigious film funds such as the Sundance Documentary Fund, MacArthur Foundation, Tribeca Film Institute, Chicken and Egg, France’s World Cinema Fund, Britdoc Foundation, Screen Australia and Screen NSW amongst others.

I’ve participated in many film labs and markets where I’ve met many friends and collaborators in every corner in the world from Berlinale to Film Independent, AIDC to Good Pitch.

What were the stumbling blocks, initially getting started on your career path, and since then?

The film industry is dominated by men, studios are run by men, TV stations are run by men and most film funds are run by men. Being a woman of colour and the daughter of an immigrant to Australia, I’m well aware of limitations set by society. That said, I don’t feel I’ve had many stumbling blocks, but it hasn’t been easy road to get to where I am today.

When I was 6, I was playing in the park with my dad. I started a running race with another little boy, when his mother shouted at me, “you can’t race against my son – you’ll lose, you are a girl.” I looked at my dad who said to me; “Look at your legs, they’re the same as his legs, you can run just as fast.” I was so glad my dad said that to me at such a young age because it marked my life. I don’t like to comply with gender limits imposed on us by society.

How did you overcome these?

By focusing on my work, making the most of the opportunities I have. I love what I do so much that I can’t see myself doing anything else. I will make films until I am 100 years old or even more. I’ve taken a lot of risks, sometimes they pay off and sometimes they don’t. But on the whole, I’d have to say that as a filmmaker it pays off to take risks than not.

What are your goals for the future?

To finish the next two parts of the drug war trilogy I’m working on. I will make my first narrative feature film in the next 5 years. I will continue to build and grow my production company, United Notions Film, focusing on producing films by women, minorities, young people who are talented and hardworking but underrepresented. However, the most important thing for me is to see my daughter grow up, enjoy every single day with her, even when I’m so busy. My overall goal is to keep fighting for what I believe in and to tell stories that matter.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow the same path as you?

The only way you will become a filmmaker is by making films. Don’t wait for someone to discover you, don’t try to become part of the establishment; you really just have to get in there and do it. You don’t even need to go to film school, we all watch so much TV, films and media that we know what works and what doesn’t – filmmaking is a trial and error process.

Rock the boat, break the status quo, don’t become part of the statistics that keep women in the waiting seat. No-one is going to hand it to you on a platter. Explore your creativity, fight for what you want and don’t let anyone make you believe that your story doesn’t matter. Filmmaking takes your life. Making a film is like putting a puzzle together without knowing what the picture looks like until you get to the end.

It’s so exciting when you see all the years of hard work and doubts come together into something tangible. It’s this uncertainty throughout the entire process that makes a film such a powerful work of art, capable to ignite change.

How To Identify Your Strengths

Knowing your strengths is your key to finding work you love and you’re successful at, yet, identifying those strengths is not always as easy as sitting down with a piece of paper and listing a few qualities. If, like many of us, you’re struggling to see your own strengths, read on.

RELATED: What Are Your Strengths And Weaknesses?

What is strength?

Some people see strengths as something we’re naturally good at, but I prefer Marcus Buckingham’s definition: “A strength is an activity that makes you feel strong.” The more you use your strengths, the more energised you feel, which enables you to become better at it with less effort. Being good at something is not enough to call it a strength. If it drains you, then it’s a weakness.

Pay attention to your energy levels

Following this definition, notice how you feel when you’re performing different tasks throughout the day. What sparks excitement? What makes you feel good about yourself? What would you be doing all day if you had the opportunity? After paying attention for a week or so, you will probably notice a thread emerging. You may be feeling at your best when taking care of others or coming up with ideas, or creating something with your hands.

Ask your friends

Sometimes it’s hard to identify our strengths, because they come to us so naturally that we don’t even notice them, just like we don’t notice ourselves breathing most of the time. Ask people who know you well to tell you what they most value about you and what they think makes you unique. Some of the answers are bound to surprise you. When I did this exercise for the first time, I remember thinking: “Really, not everyone does this? Other people don’t think this way?” No, they don’t.

Take a strength assessment test

There are lots of strength assessment tests you can find online and one of the most popular ones is Gallup’s StregthsFinder 2.0, which I have found very helpful – not only it gives you your top strengths, but also ideas on how to bring more of them into your life. Assessments are also good because they give you the language to describe your strengths, which comes handy when you’re answering job interview questions.

Once you discover your strengths, look for ways to implement them in your daily life. The more you use them, the more you will start seeing new ways to apply your strengths and most importantly, you will feel happier and more fulfilled.

Image via Pixabay

How To Earn A 6-Figure Salary – In Mining

Most of us have heard that the mining industry, in Australia, is booming. The only thing is, when people want to apply, they often hit a brick wall. This perplexing issue sends many people packing and they opt for much lower-paying jobs. Seeing it can be a tricky industry to get your foot in the door; I’ve spoken to some people employed in the industry, who have some great recommendations.

Essentially, people get into the mining industry a couple of ways. It seems the easiest way in, is to know someone who can either recommend you or give you some insider information. If you do have some connections, make the calls, do some networking and find out the following information:

  • The name of different companies, plus who have got upcoming contracts or positions to fill
  • What sort of skills you should look at acquiring to improve your chance of securing a job
  • Where to look for mining work and more importantly, which options to avoid. Some companies will ask for money up front to look for mining jobs, with no guarantee of actually securing a position
  • The types of jobs available and the conditions you’ll need to work or live in

Apart from knowing someone in the industry, the next best thing is list your skills in a professional looking resume and keep sending it off. Persistence is the key. Some companies want to know you are keen to work for them. They want to see the effort you are willing to put in, to secure a job with them.

So, don’t just send a resume in and wait. This won’t get you anywhere. Unless you are the best engineer or skilled professional on the planet and your reputation proceeds you, don’t sit back and wait for a call. An insider source said, that nagging companies can really pay off. Your name will become familiar to human resource staff, if you continue to submit your resume. Eventually, the hard work may pay off.

They won’t just let anyone in though. You will need to have some required skills and knowledge. Check mining industry websites and see what positions they have vacant. There are minimal positions for unqualified staff, so your best chance, if you really want to enter this industry, is to get some qualifications.

Getting your foot in the door should be your first priority. You will need minimal restrictions and be prepared to work and live in remote locations; often in difficult climates. Having this flexibility is attractive for big companies, who are inundated with employment requests. Therefore, you will need something special to reach out of your resume and say “hire me!”

Lastly, once you’re in the industry, there is a much greater chance of maintaining employment. This enables you to follow the work and keep the cash rolling in. Many companies offer training to increase your skill set and it is advised, you take full advantage of these opportunities.

Image via×2-940×627.jpg

By Kim Chartres

Top Tips For Mumpreneurs Starting a Business

Starting a new business, especially as a mum, can be extremely tough. But it can also very rewarding – just ask Caroline Monet who celebrated 10 years in business this September with her company Caroline’s Skincare.

Caroline’s business came about by desperation. She had developed eczema on her hands so severe that when her daughter was born she couldn’t bathe her without excruciating pain.

“Nothing I used worked so out of necessity I developed my own cream to help ease the symptoms,” says Caroline.

Armed with aromatherapy knowledge, along and extensive research Caroline created a healing moisturiser and after months of trial and error and many experimental batches, she found a workable formula that was filled with soothing, natural ingredients.

“I was ecstatic when in 2003 my first batch of six bottles was taken by a local pharmacy,” says Caroline. She now has two manufacturers and a distributor, has won several prestigious awards, is esteemed as an expert in the industry, has broken sales records and built offices to accommodate her growth.

“I left school at 15 and modelled internationally for 20 years so to begin with I had very few business skills. I was completely computer illiterate – I honestly didn’t even know how to turn a computer on! I had no experience at all in running a business. But once again, out of necessity I learned, especially as the business grew.”

Caroline started with no working capital (she had $5,000 on a credit card and initially offered product on consignment for nearly six months) and it was at least six years before she drew earnings from the business. As demand increased it was necessary to continually pour the income back into it.

In the past 18 months her business has grown by 2000%. New outlets come on board daily, with her range now available in over 3,000 outlets Australia wide, as well as being sent overseas on a regular basis.

Caroline’s motto is “don’t let challenges stand in your way. Use setbacks to find strength, and… always believe in yourself.”

Caroline’s top tips to other mums starting a business:

1. Have a product you believe in, one that has a viable marketplace.

2. Develop good relations with suppliers and individual customers – be proactive and accountable.

3. Listen to the needs of those to whom you supply your product, be they distributors, retailers or customers – value their opinions and take their input into consideration where viable.

4. Don’t try to be too big too soon. Take the steps you can afford without going in over your head. Assess the risks when taking steps to expand your marketplace – be realistic.

5. Ask questions and be prepared to listen and learn. Network and seek out like-minded business people – don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know can you tell me” as most people are only too happy to share their knowledge and advice.

6. Building strong foundations is the key to anything lasting the distance – ‘take your time’ and focus on the micro as well as the macro.

7. Lessons learnt along the way can be difficult at the time, but it is how you respond to a crisis that can make or break you or your business – don’t make spur of the moment decisions and face setbacks strategically.

Caroline’s top marketing tips:

1. Create demand through promotional activity. If you have a story find ways to tell it – a good place to start is local publications like community newspapers that love to run local stories.

2. Be actively involved in PR – hiring a PR Consultant is one of the best things I did for my business.

3. Offer incentives to customers via your website/Facebook page. 4. Always respond to customers who contact you – one nicely written reply could lead to hundreds of new customers. 5. Enter business awards as winning awards can also be used as a powerful tool to market your brand and your business.

Do you own your own business? Tell us about it in the comments!

Q&A With Dragon’s Den Success Story Skinny Tan

Two Australian stay-at-home mums have gained international success with the invention of their new beauty product Skinny Tan which tans but also reduces the appearance of cellulite!  

The two mumtrepreneurs, Louise Ferguson and Kate Cotton, re-mortgaged their home and maxed out their credit cards to make it happen, and recently appeared in England on the hit BBC TV show Dragons’ Den – a reality TV show in which budding entrepreneurs get three minutes to pitch their business ideas to five millionaires.

Skinny Tan immediately sparked interest from all five ‘Dragons’, resulting in a total of nine offers – a series record! – to help make the product available in both the UK and Australia.

Skinny Tan is the first self-tanner to combine a 100% natural tanning active with naturally derived body firming actives, free from the chemical DHA and instead includes a natural element derived from the seeds of the Brassica Napus plant.

SheSaid chats to Louise and Kate about their Dragon’s Den experience and their advice for other women wanting to start their own business…

What was the Dragon’s Den experience really like?
Dragon’s Den was probably the most terrifying but amazing experience of our lives. The pitch you see on TV is only 15 minutes however we spent nearly two hours in the Den. A lot of people think that the Dragon investors make their business decisions in a moment, however the reality of it is quite different. Even prior to the show the BBC undertake lengthy due diligence of your entire business and background.

The hours, days and weeks after the show were truly amazing! We were both on such a high after offers from five very wealthy and successful business people who loved our product and recognised what we had already achieved in Australia. The whole experience with gaining two Dragons ensured our recent launch in the UK was a huge success – we have sold £260,000 ($435,000) of product in just six weeks online.

What tips do you have for other women starting their own business?
Just do it! Have no fear and trust in yourself. Ensure your idea has appeal and endeavour to do the best you can with what you have. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice when you need it and take baby steps>  With hard work and a vision – eventually you will succeed.

What, if anything, would you do differently with your business?
At this stage we wouldn’t change anything – even though we probably didn’t do everything right it was all a learning experience which can use going forward.

Describe a typical working day for you?
Some days are much harder than others, especially being mums of 2 young children. We typically work every minute when not looking after the children, cooking dinner or sleeping.  We both live and breathe Skinny Tan.

What’s next for you and the business?
We would love to extend our market internationally and eventually rid the world of orange chemical tans.  Our tanner is the first tanner to combine 100% natural tanning properties with a naturally derived cellulite active for a dual effect, helping reduce the appearance of cellulite. We are incredibly excited about the future of our brand!

How To Have A Life Aside Work and Study

I’ve recently started a job which requires me to work three full days. But of course considering Sydney’s layout and traffic it ends up consuming a 7am-7pm frame. On my two other days in the week I am at university (studying full time), frantically trying to catch up on missed lectures, tutorial homework, assignments…

So I’ve had to come to terms with it – life is busy. But apparently life just keeps on getting busier which made me start to get a little upset. I can already  see how I have less and less time for friends, those random coffee catch-ups and everyday things I love. I can’t always go out to dinner or see friends on weeknights as sometimes I get home late, have work to do or am frankly just too buggered. The weeknights have never been so important to me and I finally see how working hard, playing hard is the way to do it.

But I don’t want to be waiting around for the weekend all the time to enjoy myself and see friends and have time to do the things I really love. So I’ve come to a few conclusions on how to improve my work life balance, and love my life everyday…even those days that start at 6am and end at 10.30pm!

1. Let your work become your lifestyle
If you hate your job, I’m sorry to say but you are probably going to start hating on your life. I’m not saying everyday has to be the most exciting, but it’s important to feel positive and see the value in working so hard throughout the week. Your job should be a reflection of your purpose and passions in life.

2. Organise fun activities and social things throughout the week
It can be hard but sometimes that dinner with your partner or a good friend in the middle of the week is just what you need to balance work and play.

3. Make the most of your mornings
For my partner, it’s about physical activity whether it be running or surfing before work. For me it’s stimulating my creative mind however I want in the ways of blogging, reading or storming through Pinterest and listening to music on my way to work.

4. Use your lunch breaks wisely
Invite your work colleagues to the local park for lunch and a chat – you’ll almost always learn something new about your job or business and rapport is so important in improving the quality of your job.

5. Vary up your routines
Whether it be what you eat or drink in the morning, how you get to work, what you wear, or your work hours – change things up! Make life exciting in the little things everyday. For me I try to wear something bright and different everyday, vary my makeup for a different look and take different routes to work (yesterday I took the ferry home and got to enjoy a sunset harbour view – what a treat!).

6. Maximise your weekends
I’m always up early on Saturday morning. I tend to start my weekend with some Pilates, followed by family time, then heading over to the beaches for anything ranging from hiking to a swim, to just hanging with friends.

7. Always be positive and optimistic
Don’t whinge and weep. If you’re not happy about a job or a lifestyle – change it. You are in control of your life and you only live once so do it well.

Make your job or studies be a part of your lifestyle. Everything has pros and cons to it but it’s up to you to choose which you focus on. Take charge and live the life you want, everyday.

How do you balance work and life?

Adriana Paczyski blogs about travelling, photography and life at Golden Hour Girl.

7 High-Flying Women Share Their Secrets to Success

Are you despairing of ever smashing through that metaphorical glass ceiling and rising to the top of your chosen profession?  SheSaid has persuaded real-life women who are scaling the heights of seven very different fields to share their stories – and what they credit with their success.

The Retail Afficionado: Jennifer Jones, 38 (above)
Former Diesel Clothing managing director and founder/CEO of homewares company Have you met Miss Jones, a lifestyle-publication favourite

Tell us your potted career history: I witnessed first-hand the passion and love my parents had for their homewares business in the Philippines and I made it my personal goal to start my own business by the time I was 30. So just shy of my birthday I resigned from Diesel Clothing. First I tried my hand at selling almost anything and then, on my Dad’s suggestion, I went back to the Philippines to source a homewares collection.

Have you had to make personal sacrifices? The most confronting aspect of moving from a corporate career to your own business is the sheer amount of work you need to do yourself. I didn’t want to take out loans or get investors so I started with my savings and a fierce determination to succeed. While you do make sacrifices, especially financial, you know every aspect of your business and how to do things, and you have more time to do the things you love as you’re calling the shots.

What do you credit with your career success? I was told that when you start your own business everything you’ve done in the past, no matter how insignificant, plays a part in your success. This couldn’t be more true and all the roles I’ve had in the past have given me instinctive knowledge about starting my own company. We now release two full ranges a year of over 300 items and supply over 800 stores across Australia. Find something you truly love doing, then make it your job!

The Banker: Melanie Evans, 36
Head of home ownership for Australia’s second-largest lender, Westpac Group

Tell us your potted career history: I started in banking at 17 years old while studying my undergraduate degree. Having held senior product, marketing and P&L roles in banking, super and investments, it’s fair say I’ve grown up in a male-dominated environment!

Have you had to make personal sacrifices? I believe that those who achieve career success – as defined only by them – tend to be highly successful in life beyond their career too. So I’m very conscious of leading a happy and healthy life. I’ve never thought of anything as a sacrifice. I make explicit decisions on a daily basis about how I spend my time and I own those decisions. I’ve had very good role models in that regard. I make time to go for a run in the morning or at lunchtime, I prioritise family commitments, I make sure I eat well. I don’t hide the fact that I am spending time on myself because I think I am better person for it.

What do you credit with your career success? Understanding your business and most importantly your customers; hard work and tenacity; building solid relationships based on trust and respect; challenging convention and encouraging others to challenge your own thinking; always learning by seeking out people and experiences that will give you new perspectives; caring about people and developing those around you; enjoying yourself and being happy.

The Engineer: Sally Glen, 40
Australian director at Independent Project Analysis (IPA), the industry leader in the quantitative analysis of project management systems

Tell us your potted career history: I don’t recall really choosing engineering but growing up in the outback and being good at maths seemed good perquisites… and I happily went off to remote Tom Price for my first job. I’ve had three out of four good bosses, only two employers and interesting work. From starting in construction and project management, my work now involves governance and project economics, plus evaluating over 200 projects in the last decade (flying and airports are overrated!). Lots of public speaking, including teaching project professionals, is not where I thought engineering would take me.

Have you had to make personal sacrifices? We decided early on to have one of us home and it was an economic decision that I work. I have worried about how much I’ve been away from the girls (now five and seven) during their very young years. I think that has probably been harder on me than them and maybe it is giving them good role modelling for what is possible. The single income has postponed some plans but it has been of enormous comfort to me from many overseas locations that the kids had a parent at home.

What do you credit with your career success? I manage everything in large part because of my husband’s role as stay-at-home parent. I have an aptitude for process improvement and the puzzle solving that goes with operations management, and I have a scenario planning mindset to seeing off problems. Being more senior is isolating and I have to work on those likability issues that tend to be felt more by women. I credit my children for teaching me to be “present” and I have a small, core group of family and friends who help with my sanity from time to time. I also run.

The Journalist: Kate Mills, 40 
Former editor of BRW magazine and founder of, a platform for flexible work opportunities for women in law, accounting, engineering and management consulting

Tell us your potted career history: Nearly a lawyer, but then accidentally fell into journalism and instantly loved it. Started in legal journalism but spread into becoming a general business commentator and spent the last three years as first female editor of BRW.

Have you had to make personal sacrifices? As editor my life came down to my family (husband and two girls) and work so I have been through periods where you just don’t see friends and you have to keep an eye on your physical and mental health so you don’t burn out. Any sacrifices have been worth it though – I love what I do.

What do you credit with your career success? Hard work and some luck. Early in my career I met an editor at a party who gave me my first big break – she overheard me making a group of lawyers laugh and thought I would be good value! I am like a lot of women who are the quiet hardworking ones that get things: we need to make more noise though about our achievements – that is one reason more men get ahead. My new motto: hear me roar!

The Lawyer: Anna Elliot, 38
Senior associate and leader of the Sydney labour and employment team at global top-20 law firm, Squire Sanders

Tell us your potted career history: I trained as a lawyer at Hammonds (now Squire Sanders) in the UK. After five years, I moved to Sydney with the intention of staying for six-12 months and returning to my role in London. After a brief career change honing some invaluable business development skills at KPMG, I met my husband and realised I was staying. So I re-qualified and continued my career in employment law in commercial firms here. Seven years later, I received a fantastic opportunity to re-join Squire Sanders to set up the labour and employment team in Sydney, when its newest Australian office opened in November 2012.

Have you had to make personal sacrifices? Yes. Although moving to Sydney was the right decision for my personal life, it set my career back about five years and I am still catching up with my former UK peers.  I also took less time off for maternity leave, and had less time at home once I returned to work, than I would have liked. I absolutely love being a mother and I am also passionate about my career – I have been very fortunate to have a husband and employers who are supportive of both.

What do you credit with your career success? Being hard working, committed and driven. Also maintaining relationships and never burning my bridges, which was a key factor in being approached for my current role.

The Property Manager: Kate Brown, 36
Group director, sustainability for global property company Grosvenor, run for the Duke of Westminster 

Tell us your potted career history: Completed a Masters degree in Art History and found my first job in property as a graduate asset manager in London, moving into development soon after. Once professionally qualified, I was posted to Sydney as a development manager, taking on the new (international – across our 19 offices) role of group director, sustainability five years ago.

Have you had to make personal sacrifices? The first three years of full-time working while undertaking a post-grad course – four nights a week, four hours a night just for the lectures and coursework on top – was very tough. I kissed goodbye to ANY social life! Now with a young family and an international role, the sacrifice is different: time away from home.

What do you credit with your career success? Never being afraid to ask the question; for a new challenge. People only know what you want if you tell them. So many people are dissatisfied… don’t die wondering! There was a need for my role but it didn’t exist. I asked the question and after some discussion it was created. Also being prepared to feel scarily out of my depth. Being a group director aged 30 was a little daunting – I made plenty of mistakes, but had to learn quickly.

The Television Careerist: Sarah Stinson, 33
Executive producer, Channel 7’s The Morning Show and Daily Edition

Tell us your potted career history: I started in the newsroom at Channel 9 in 1998. I was meant to do a week-long internship; I ended up staying for 8 months, simply by creating new jobs for myself. From there I went to the Today Show as production assistant and after two years, to my dream job at A Current Affair, starting as a researcher before moving up to senior producer. I then went to Today Tonight (Channel 7) as a producer and was promoted to chief of staff, where I really cut my teeth in management. This paved the way three years ago for my progression to executive producer of The Morning Show, and more recently the Daily Edition.

Have you had to make personal sacrifices? On the face of it, yes – I’ve been called back from holidays for every form of natural disaster. In my early 20s I spent more time in a dark edit suite than a dark nightclub (in retrospect, this may have been a good thing). I’ve spent pretty much every Sunday morning for the past 15 years chasing stories when I should be sleeping in. But this is a lifestyle, not a job, so I wouldn’t necessarily call them sacrifices, but rather a relatively small price to pay for long-term gain.

What do you credit with your career success? I have always been resourceful and incredibly determined. If someone tells me something can’t be done I see it as a challenge – an invitation to make it happen. I love recognising talent in other people and helping them to play to their strengths. More than most industries television is a team sport – it’s a constant relay. We all rely on each other to get the best product to air each day. And the two vital ingredients for any successful career: gusto and gumption.

Which women inspire you? We’d love to know your female role models and who you look up to!

Nicole is the founder of and developer of the 12-Step Prosperity Plan, an achievable and even enjoyable blueprint to take Aussies from worry to wealthy. Nicole’s writing has earned her top personal finance awards in both the United Kingdom and Australia. Her career credits include founding and editing The Australian Financial Review’s Smart Investor magazine, and reporting and editing for the magazine arm of the UK’s Financial Times. Author, qualified financial adviser and Fairfax’s Money Matters columnist for the last decade, Nicole is a regular on television and radio. She talks money without the mumbo jumbo. Follow her on Twitter at @NicolePedMcK.

How To Beat The Back-At-Work Blues

Back at work, but wish you were still on holidays? Suffering from a serious case of Mondayitis? Leading workplace psychology expert Dr. Mary Casey, author of How to Deal with Master Manipulators ($69.95, Casey Centre), shares seven common work-related problems and strategies to beat the work blues.

1. You dislike the work you do

Maybe it’s time to revaluate your job satisfaction. Often it takes courage to be honest with ourselves. Ask yourself if you’re being challenged, and believe in the work you do. If you have been dissatisfied for a year or more, it’s could be time to discover what you do like. Learn new skills by embarking on some study, or look for a new role where your existing skills can be applied.

2. You don’t know how to deal with difficult people

People only do what they do because they can. It is well worth developing the skills to deal with a difficult colleague or manager. My tips are to control your emotions around any difficult person, set strong boundaries within acceptable limits, don’t take anything too personally, remain professional, and channel your attention into areas of your work that will reward you both personally and professionally.

3. You dislike the work culture

Maybe you’re stuck in a negative work culture or you’re just bored. Find out what exactly what bothers you. Adopting an attitude of gratitude may be all that you need: identify the positive attributes of your job – for instance a regular income, stability, mentoring and/or work satisfaction. If you can’t identify positive aspects, then maybe it is time for a change.

4. You’re often overworkedBR>
Anyone would dread starting a new working year if they knew it meant long hours all over again. Look into why so much work is being delegated to you. Communicate with management if you need more resources and how it would benefit the business; identify where and how you can delegate to another; or are you are doing other people’s work for them and it’s simply become a habit? Take responsibility and stop it immediately as it is your health that suffers in the long run.

5. You don’t speak up for yourself
This can stunt your career progression: People will leapfrog you into better positions, they will take credit for the work you have done, your ambitions will be unnoticed and your career acceleration will be slower – leading to job dissatisfaction in the long term. Remember that you’re employed for a reason – you have expertise, skills and experience. Find a course on assertiveness (such as the ones conducted by Casey Centre) and learn how to confront issues and speak up for yourself.

6. You lack confidence

Self-confidence is the single largest quality that “opens doors” in the workplace – whether that door is a promotion, the best projects in the company, or working alongside the most talented people. Confidence is required to befriend and align yourself with the most important people in the company, who will reward you. “If you don’t have confidence in yourself, neither will your boss or co-workers, leaving you stagnating in your career growth. Could this be the deep reason why you dread returning from holidays? Shop around for a good course on confidence building (the Casey Centre runs several every year).

7. You allow people to walk over you

This is something that only you can be accountable for. It is up to you to have clear boundaries for yourself as to what is acceptable to you and what is not acceptable. You need to be perfectly clear on how you will be spoken to and treated. If you are not clear, others will walk all over you.

How do you deal with the work blues?

How to get a pay rise…

Basically a performance review should look at: Whether you have met and or exceeded expectations in your role and whether your manager has done his or her job in terms of providing the support and resources you need to do your job.

Those unfamiliar with the process should ask their human resources department how it works. Traditionally, a manager should sit down with a
team member to set KPIs – Key Performance Indicators – for their job. Then in June, these are assessed as part of a Performance Development Review – or PDR. At the end of this process, you should have new KPIs and access to some “goodies” such as training and new projects – things to keep you interested in your work.

If your company doesn’t offer these goodies, you might want to think about changing to an employer who does. Those already on the job trail, should
ask a prospective employer about the career development opportunities offered with the new role during their second interview.

Some companies link performance to pay while others link performance to career development and keep pay separate. It’s perfectly okay to ask these questions of an employer or a prospective employer – we are talking about your life here.

Pay rises depend on many things including how well your employer has performed in the last year. The performance of your department and your
team might also factor in the equation and then comes your own performance.

Companies that rely on performance reviews should be dolling out the PDR forms by now. You will be asked to rate your performance using a standard
form. Your manager does the same but separately from you and then you come together and discuss it.

As scary as it sounds – very few of us like being judged – without a review process, how can you canvass issues important to your future? These
could include your willingness to take on more responsibility, your desire to step up into a new role or the fact you want to go on a training

Just doing your job well will usually only get you a basic cost of living increase – currently about two per cent. Taking on more responsibility or a new role is where the real money is.

According to recruitment firms around Australia, talent is in short supply and thus salaries are on the rise. However, to cash in on the situation,
which by the way is set to continue for some years, you need to do your research.

Hays Personnel Services has just published its annual salary survey series and has re-published the lot. Basically, Hays surveyed 1700 companies in Australia and New Zealand and more than 50 per cent report that they have budgeted for some healthy pay increases in the coming financial year (from July 1, 2004).

Go to Career One and look for the purple Career Resources box. Click on Dollars & Sense to get access to all 14 surveys. The series covers: Accountancy; Banking; Construction;
Contact Centres; Human Resources & Training; Sales & Marketing; Insurance: IT&T; Legal; Office Support; Logistics & Procurement; Professional
Practice and Resources & Mining.

Also read: “How to get that pay rise” for advice on approaching your manager about a salary increase. Then go to the On the Job section (you’ll also find the link in the Career Resources box) for stories to help you get through the performance review process: “Even negative feedback is positive” and “In praise of the appraisal”.

Good luck.

Story by Kate Southam, editor of CareerOne. Job hunting and workplace questions can be sent to Kate via

IBM leads on family support (contd)

Other workplace initiatives include:Men at Work
A two-day program for male staff, this Federal Government initiative was
developed by a Macquarie University academic. The program seeks to educate
men on how to achieve work/life balance, look after their health and to
participate more fully in their family life.Parenting rooms
Use by nursing mothers after they return from maternity leave.

Parental leave seminars
Designed for those taking parental leave or returning from leave. Issues
include career planning and identifying ways the workplace can support the
returning parent.

Ms Spencer says IBM’s policies have resulted in a high proportion of its
female staff returning to work after maternity leave.

The company also runs other diversity programs to The company has a
diversity council to help devise its ongoing diversity strategy.

“We think this is very important to have policies that accommodate the needs
of different staff members. You cannot talk about diversity if you are only
talking about one group of people such as mothers,” says Ms Spencer.

“Women at work need support but our population is men and women and parents
are men and women.”

Story by Kate Southam, editor of CareerOne. Go to for more career related articles. Send job hunting and workplace questions to

Group interviews – part 2 (Contd)

It’s important you make a contribution to the group. Even if another member of the group is the first to provide an answer to a question, if you agree with that answer, then express your support. However, be genuine as you might be asked to explain why you agree with a particular answer.What to wear
A couple of candidates contacting CareerOne about group interviews have described the outfit they have chosen for the day as casual – sometimes really casual such as tank tops, cargo pants and jeans. All the research CareerOne carried out on this topic screamed a huge “NO” to casual attire.
Jacqui Whyatt advises corporate dress, which means a suit or at least pants and jacket or skirt and jacket and she counsels women to try and avoid open toed shoes.The other rules about interview dressing also apply. For women, minimal make up, hair off the face either worn out or tied back, minimal jewellery and nothing that jingles, clean nails with no chipped polish, clean, ironed clothes and no overpowering perfume.
For guys, clean nails, hair and well-ironed clothes, polished shoes, no overpowering aftershave and good personal hygiene.Last word
Ms Whyatt says the group interview is an opportunity for candidates to market themselves.
“Market yourself like you were a product. Pay attention to your personal presentation, know your strengths and make sure you have spent some time researching the company,” she says.
Jacqui Whyatt was interviewed by the editor of, Kate Southam.

Story by Kate Southam, editor of CareerOne. Go to for more career related articles. Send job hunting and workplace questions to

Group interviews – part two

How to prepare
When you are contacted about your selection for a group interview, Ms Whyatt advises candidates to ask for a job description. CareerOne would add that you should pose any other questions you want answered regarding what is going to happen and what you should bring.Some CareerOne readers have reported that companies were unhelpful when they asked such questions. Just remember that there is nothing wrong with asking and that the more information you gain, the better prepared you will be.
CareerOne would also advise candidates to spend some time researching the company they will be interviewing with. Visit their website at the very least, scan the business pages of the newspaper for stories about them – or better yet, visit a reference library and search the newspaper archives. Candidates might also be able to pick up brochures or an annual report from the company’s office.

Prepare a short piece about yourself. Even if you are never asked to speak about yourself, doing this exercise will help you focus on what skills and attributes you possess and how these will relate to the job or jobs on offer.
Rehearse with a family member or friend. Use your short piece about yourself and do some role-playing using the angry customer and problem-solving staff member as characters. It doesn’t matter that the scenarios will differ when you do the real thing on the day. Rehearsal gets you thinking and helps you practice skills that will make you stand out such as speaking clearly, maintaining good eye contact and remaining calm no matter how angry a customer gets.
Ms Whyatt advises candidates to practice a firm handshake, good eye contact, listening skills and speaking clearly and loudly enough for a group to hear.

She says to also give some thought to body language and what slouching, standing with arms firmly crossed, fidgeting or playing with hands or hair might convey to the recruiters.
CareerOne advises candidates to consider a websearch by an search engine like Google. Place phrases like “dealing with customers” or “group interviews” in the search box and get the low down from experts all over the world. CareerOne did this and found plenty of expert advice on both subjects.

For example, when role-playing with an “angry customer”, never mirror or copy that person’s behaviour. Stay calm, be sympathetic and take ownership of the problem even if you eventually have to say something like: “I want to consult my supervisor to get their input on the best way to assist you …”

What men and women do for fun

What men and women do for fun

In the first-ever nationwide online Australian Pleasure Survey, 2,443 respondents answered what they enjoyed doing for summer, if their employer appreciated them, and how they wanted to be rewarded for a job well done.

It turns out that 73.0% of all respondents felt their employer generally or very much appreciated their efforts. But not if they got flowers! When asked what gift would be best for a job well done from their employer, flowers were perceived as the best reward by only 0.4% of women (and 0.2% of men), and nearly as unpopular were CD/DVD vouchers (1.2% and 1.7% respectively), movie vouchers (1.5% and 1.8% respectively) and food hampers (1.7% and 1.8% respectively).

The reward that 56.6% of you really want are fun things to do, such as a massage or a jet boat ride, with a dinner for two in second place (17.7%) and department store vouchers by 10.1% of all respondents.

And no surprises here: men and women enjoy their leisure time very differently which means you need to plan certain types of activities with your partner – and quite different ones for girlie get-together (of which 40.1% of all women compared to only 23.6% of men planned to do this summer).

The only favourite activities men and women seem to have in common are gourmet/ wine outings (of almost equal appeal to females and males (16.5% and 14.3% respectively), and outdoor/nature activities ( (22.5% and 27.1%). Fewer males (18.6%) than females (26.1%) want to go on romantic getaways, but at least they want to go!

The highest proportion of women (24.2%) chose pampering packages with other high-ranking choices being romantic getaways, dolphin/whale watching, adventure hot air ballooning, and not having to cook at all with the help of a personal chef all fantastic choices for a girlie get-together or hen’s event!

On the other hand, 12.2% of males voted for jet fighter flights as their favourite experience, with golf adventure, motor racing and, romantic getaways close behind.

The right (wo)man for the job (contd)

Beware of negative people”Never accept someone’s negative opinion of you because it will drain you of your strength,” warns Sarina. “Have the positive attitude that whatever they say about you it is only their opinion.”

Quoting a well-known phrase she says, “It’s not what happens to you but what you do about it that counts.”

When as a child Ms Russo was teased for her Italian-style salami and Parmesan cheese sandwiches she didn’t dwell on whether the treatment was fair. She simply saved up her pocket money to buy a jar of vegemite to make her own sandwiches. When a bank turned her down for a loan to buy her first building – despite her success at that stage – she went to another bank.

Job seekers need to be well prepared

While a positive attitude is vital to the job hunt so is discipline, says Sarina.

“If you are going to an interview with a biscuit company then you need to research all you can about the company, the industry and their competitors. You need to give some thought to why you would be an asset to that particular organisation.”

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

“When I started my school (in 1979) I was a fired legal secretary so I needed a qualified teacher to help me develop the curriculum. I am not threatened by someone having specialist skills I do not,” says Sarina.

“As a business leader, you need to have a group of talented people around you that represent different areas of expertise then you as the leader must unify that group as a team.”

However, Ms Russo says everyone needs help from time to time no matter what level they are out so don’t be afraid to ask for it whether it be from family, friends or colleagues.

Look the part

Dress the part. Make sure everything you wear is cleaned, iron and neat. Take care with your appearance. You don’t need to spend a fortune to ensure you hair looks good, your nail polish isn’t chipped and your good health shows on your face.

Be an A+ person

Do everything with energy and enthusiasm. Always answer the telephone with a smile so it will transfer to your voice. Use a firm handshake; deliver on your promises and value honesty and integrity.

Celebrate your wins

Sarina celebrates all her big wins at the Sarina Russo Group with lavish parties for staff. She urges individuals to reward themselves too whether that is a cheap and cheerful dinner with friends or a massage, facial or new piece of clothing.

Sarina Russo spoke to Kate Southam, editor of Go to for more career related articles. Send job hunting and workplace questions to

Sarina is also the author the motivational book: “Meet me at the top!” published by Crown Content.

Office Party Etiquette

Gina Luca has these top tips for surviving the party season. Whatever you do, don’t sit on your boss’s lap at the Christmas party…Eat

Some food in your stomach will avoid over-effects of any alcohol you drink. Eating is a sociable activity, you’ll also meet people you don’t ordinarily get to mix with at the buffet, or snack table.


Moderation is key! This is not the time to drink as much expensive alcohol as possible to make up for the hours you put in and don’t get paid for.

Be Merry

Turn up for your work Christmas party prepared to have a great time. There’s a fine balance between enjoying the social company of the people you work with, and letting your hair down uncontrollably. Be conscious of the fact that this is a work function. You still have to turn up for work so don’t do things to bring embarrassment upon yourself.

Business Image First, Party Image Second

Sure it’s Christmas, sure it’s the end of the year, but don’t let your guard down and consider this to be a big knees-up. Think of it more like the office ‘family’, relocated to a more festive location.


Circulate, mingle, and introduce yourself. What better opportunity is there to find, in the one room, everyone in the company, from the bottom to the top of the hierarchy? It never hurts to have a friendly conversation with the tea lady, or to shake the hand of the General Manager. Be on your best, friendly behaviour. Save your party girl style for another gig. This one’s all about making the right impression while enjoying the generosity of the company.

Office Party Etiquette (contd)

The Tag-Along

If it hasn’t been made clear if partners are invited, ask! How embarrassing to turn up at your work party with your spouse/partner in tow, to find that everyone else has come alone.Leave The Tinsel For The Tree

If your work environment is conservative, be mindful of that when you’re deciding what to wear to the office party. Try to dress in a similar ‘tone’ to what you do for work, but with a bit more of a relaxed style. Strutting your stuff might attract admiring glances from men (and scornful ones from women) but it won’t score you any points in the workplace when the party itself is a distant memory.

Avoid Gossip

What you see, hear and learn should always stay at the party! Don’t succumb to the gossip-merchants, as hearsay is always trouble. People commonly get up to mischief at parties, even work functions. Hear no evil, see no evil, and definitely speak no evil!

Your Boss Ain’t Santa!

Never take advantage of your boss’s jovial mood and the party atmosphere to corner him or her and ask for a promotion or a raise. Business talk is usually unwelcome when everyone is trying to relax. Introduce yourself for sure, but only to make yourself more ‘visible’ back at work.

– And one more thing – never EVER sit on Santa Boss’s lap!

By Gina Luca

* Gina is a freelance writer whose passion for talking to people on the Internet provides much inspiration for her writing.

Women in Finance

There are now more women than men staffing finance departments within Australian companies according to a new survey.

Conducted for recruitment firm Robert Half Finance & Accounting, the survey revealed that 60 per cent of respondents employed more women than men in their finance department.

Of the companies taking part in the survey, 81 per cent said opportunities to reach management level were equal for both women and men.

However, 40 per cent of respondents believed men were more motivated about getting ahead than women.

“Since the beginning of 2003 more than 56 percent of staff placed in finance positions by Robert Half Finance & Accounting have been women,” said Nicole Gorton, Sydney branch manager of Robert Half Finance & Accounting.

Other countries with a high percentage of women in finance include New Zealand, France and the Czech Republic.

Yet balancing the responsibilities of home and work is still considered a major issue for women climbing the ladder in the finance world.

Ms Gorton said in recognition of this, Robert Half Finance & Accounting were sponsoring a program run by CPA Australia (Certified Practicing Accountants) called “Babes in Arms” designed to assist women with children to re-enter

the finance profession.

Tracy Keys is one of those who returned to the finance profession after having a child. A commercial support manager, Ms Key’s son is now in Year 6.

“I don’t believe being a woman disadvantages or advantages me in my ability to perform a finance role, everyone in finance needs to be able to balance emotional intelligence with a real head for business,” said Ms Keys.

Women in Finance (contd)

“The survey results indicate an attitude that pre-judges women and helps

maintain a glass ceiling at the executive level,” she said.”There is something real and palpable, even if invisible, which is keeping

proportionate numbers of women in Australia from reaching the highest

echelons of leadership.”

“I have a son who is in Year 6 and I juggle being a mother and a finance

professional by being extremely motivated, ruthless about balancing my life

with my work life and having a very supportive partner.

“I think a lot more could be done by business around working from home – and

not just for women with children. Working remotely will only become an

acceptable mode of work if everyone does it and people learn to manage a

remote workforce.”

“My advice to women wanting to succeed in the world of finance is to build

relationships with people, both within and outside your workplace. Also, be

creative with ways to maximise your productivity – use technology to work

while you commute or when at home and most of all – work smart,” Ms Keys


Story by Kate Southam, editor of CareerOne. You will find other stories like

this in the Finance &

Accounting – one of 15 industry-specific news and job search areas on

the site. To view the entire list of industries go to and then click on “News from your industry” under the Top Stories section in the middle of the home page. Send job hunting and workplace questions to

Job Working conditions Round-up (contd)

Not so great was a national nuclear science agency ordered to pay a manager $35,000 for failing to offer her part time work options when she returned from maternity leave.Australian Industry Group chief executive Tim Piper said the Federal Magistrates’ Court imposed penalty should make all employers aware of the need to accommodate workers with families.

“In any case, it makes good business sense to retain existing employees, given the ageing workforce and the high cost of training,” he said.

Access Economics recently told a summit in Sydney that growth in Australia’s workforce would plummet from 170,000 workers a year to only 125,000 for the entire decade of the 2020s.

That means your power as an employee is only going to grow. Remember that next time you are feeling undervalued.

Story by Kate Southam, editor of CareerOne. Go to more career related articles. Job hunting and workplace questions can be directed to CareerOne by emailing:

Job Working Conditions Round-up

As the job market picks up and the skills gap widens, employers will have to do more to retain good staff.

To that end, I’ll keep all you She Said readers up to speed with what’s happening out there in HR land so you know what you can haggle over with employers.

I have often advised friends, family and readers alike, to know what’s important to them in addition to money. In that way, if an employer laments at pay rise time that there’s no dosh in the kitty, then an alternative reward can be arranged.

More often than not, what people value most is time. The reward could be working from home one day a week or leaving early one afternoon a week to do a yoga class or to pick up a son, daughter, niece or nephew from school.

I will continue these “round ups” on an ad hoc basis to keep you all in the loop. In the meantime here’s the latest news.

In Melbourne, unions and employers have put forward separate proposals to allow up to 5 million Australians to “buy” an extra six weeks holiday leave a year. Taken as “unpaid leave”, such arrangements would provide employees with more personal time without penalty to their career. The plan is good for employers too as it saves them big money while also creating more loyal staff.

Lend Lease made news recently when it announced it would offer a $25 “emergency care relief rebate” to help offset the cost of a carer for a child who had to stay home sick on a day when it was important for the employee to come to work.

The property giant already offers paid maternity leave and work-based cr?ches.

“It’s $25 per incident — to help people pay for a nanny or carer to look after the child if they have to be at work,” Beth Winchester, human resource manager and mother of three, said.

“There is no upper limit … a child usually recovers better if the parent stays at home with them, but sometimes they have to come to work for something that just can’t be put off.”

Other companies making news for the right reasons include:

Bassett Consulting Engineers – for offering female employees paid maternity leave, flexible hours, job sharing, study leave and part-time work.

Sara Lee Household and Body Care – for offering flexible hours, work from home arrangements, paid maternity leave and the ability to `purchase’ extra annual leave through salary sacrifice.

Tabcorp – for allowing women returning from maternity leave to work part-time but retain full-time level superannuation contributions.

Little White lie on Your Resume

We all stretch the truth from time to time but adding a few little white lies to your resume is very risky.

No matter how many anecdotes you’ve heard from people who claim to have gotten away with inventing their professional or academic past, there is a strong chance you’ll get caught.

We all know people who have extended the date of when they actually left an employer to cover up the fact he or she bummed around for a couple of months. And in a job interview, many of us have bumped up our pay rate when asked: ‘What’s your current salary?’

Yes, privacy laws make it more difficult than ever for a hiring manager to probe a job candidate’s work history. It’s also true that many line managers and even junior HR people are often lax when checking out a resume. On the other hand, recruitment firms leave no stone unturned in checking candidates out thoroughly – they’re reputations depend on it.

Playing with the facts when it comes to job title, responsibilities and key achievements is playing with fire and you could get burnt – very badly.

Just last week a senior Sydney executive with a proven work track record was exposed for making up a string of academic qualifications on his resume, including a PhD.

The fiasco cost Glen Oakley a $237,000 a year job and made him a public figure for all the wrong reasons. Interestingly, it was a recruitment firm that uncovered the ruse.

In many cases, the lying is unnecessary. Extended holidays or even leaving a job because it was not right for you should not be the end of the world and can be explained. Getting caught out in a lie cannot be explained, particularly to a hiring manager or recruitment consultant who hardly knows you.

I remember interviewing an impressive young candidate who told me he was a graduate of a training program run by a well-known media company. He provided a referee who was on leave when I called. It transpired the referee was actually a former colleague so I was put through to the manager who ran the department.

Little White lie on Your Resume – cont

I was told my interviewee had actually been turned down for a place on the training program but bugged the manager so much that he was finally given a chance to do some work experience and then casual paid work. While he wasn’t offered a permanent paid role – as there were none to offer – he had gained valuable experience and proved himself. What a shame he didn’t just tell me that. I did consider hiring him anyway but I was worried about his penchant for lying.Kathryn Westall, business manager for leading call centre recruiters Hallis, says her team of consultants do everything possible to verify a candidate’s credentials and work experience.

“We do check out the whole resume thoroughly,” says Kathryn. “With academic qualifications, we ask to view transcripts and all references supplied must be verbal with referees contactable on a landline. We do not accept written references.”

Savvy recruitment consultants and hiring managers prefer landline numbers instead of mobile phone numbers when contacting referees. This follows a case in Brisbane last year when a council found a candidate’s referee was not a CEO but a former cellmate in a maximum security prison. The council had contacted the “CEO” by mobile phone and eventually hired the candiate only to fire him later when he stole public money.

Kathryn says that recruitment consultants are not only interested in finding the right candidate to land a job but in keeping their clients happy but finding people who will last in the role.

“We are interested in helping our clients achieve the best staff retention rates so we want someone who is not only honest but who is passionate about taking on the role,” she says.

Kathryn advises candidates to be completely honest with their recruitment consultant so they can work with them to tackle problems such as work experience or training gaps.

“It is really important not to lie because it will come back to bite you,” she warns.

Story by Kate Southam, editor of CareerOne. Go to for more career related articles. Job hunting and workplace questions can be directed to CareerOne by emailing:

Resume Writing Tips

Managing your own career is vital these days and keeping your r?sum? up-to-date and ready to roll is the very least you should be doing.However, rushing your r?sum?s update is not a good idea. This is the first impression a prospective employer will have of you so make sure it’s not also their last impression of you.

To make this important job easier, CareerOne asked Tara West of Aussie R?sum?s to provide her expert tips. Aussie R?sum?s is a professional r?sum? writing service. It also carries out an annual survey of major employers to find out what they want to see and read on a candidate’s r?sum?.

What style should candidates follow when preparing their r?sum??

Tara West says that for most candidates, simple is best. While graphic artists, art directors and other creative roles might require fancy fonts and stand out tricks, most of us should avoid these along with graphics and photos.

“Fonts should be easy to read, information correctly aligned and full justification used,” advises Ms West.

She suggests using good quality white paper for hard copy r?sum?s that will be posted or hand delivered. R?sum?s delivered online should use popular formats such as Word or PDF.

“When emailing your application, keep in mind that certain fonts may be on your computer but not necessarily on another.

“Arial font is widely accepted, is ‘open-faced’ and looks professional. Ensure your font size is readable by viewing your document at page width. Generally 11 point is sufficient.”

How long should my r?sum? be?

For most roles, no more than four pages is required, says Ms West. For senior roles, a r?sum? can be up to six pages.

“It is very rare for an employer to request a one to two page r?sum?,” she says. “From comments received by employers in our survey it was stated that one to two pages does not adequately demonstrate (a candidate’s) skills and qualifications.”

“Of course, an exception to this would be a recent school leaver or TAFE, college or university graduate with limited experience.”

What should I put in my r?sum??

Your r?sum? should contain information relevant to the job application such as employment history, education, training, memberships to industry groups and any industry or work-related awards you have won.

Ms West says candidates can also provide “personal” information they wish the potential employer to know.

“Many employers responding to the Aussie R?sum?s Employer Survey stated that they liked to see a pertinent mix of an applicant’s work and personal life,” says Ms West.

“This provides the employer with the opportunity of not only identifying a candidate’s skills, but also gaining an understanding of the person behind the r?sum?,” she says.

Office Romance

Whether office romance leads to a D&M relationship, or just a fling, research suggests 65 per cent of us will find a bit of sizzle in the office. Dr Jeff Patrick, a lecturer at the School of Management at Griffith University, says that most workplace relationships are between single people working in different departments at a similar level of seniority.

“I think it’s terrific. I am a big believer in it,” he says.

Here are some general rules for conducting a successful office liaison.

(For those stupid enough to be dating the boss, stalking or harassing a co-worker, sleeping with a married colleague or seducing a subordinate we suggest professional help.)

    • No physical displays of affection

      Debra has worked in HR for more than ten years and has often been amazed at the lack of commonsense shown by some workplace couples.

      She remembers one in particular who held hands throughout a work-related seminar. Even at office functions held after hours, the slobbering kiss and accompanying grope on the dance floor is OUT.


    • Don’t bring home to the office

      Debra remembers another couple who commandeered a meeting room for more than an hour just so they could spend time together.

      Don’t “hang out” at each other’s desks either. If you need to discuss domestics or just be together, use your lunch break.


    • Spreading the news

      Let people know you’re dating before you become grist for the office gossip mill.

      Dr Patrick suggests one half of the couple pick a co-worker they know will spread the word. Deliver the news in a low-key but positive way. When “the news” reaches the other half of the couple, he or she should confirm it in an equally low-key and positive way.

      To avoid embarrassment, hold off letting colleagues know about your relationship until you’re sure it’s definitely going somewhere.


    • Maintain separate identities

      Dr Patrick says one of the biggest problems dating co-workers face is being seen “as one unit”. He says colleagues assume that telling something to one half of the couple means that it will automatically be communicated to the other. Likewise, colleagues assume both members of a couple share the same views.

      To combat this, never agree to carry a message to your partner from a colleague, no matter how trivial. Also make a pact to make up your own mind about people and accept you may have different likes and dislikes.


  • No dirty laundry

    Don’t brag about your partner’s sexual prowess, lament bedroom failures or confide his battle with dandruff. EVER.

    It’s disrespectful to your partner and to your colleagues to “over share”.

    Even revealing intimate details about yourself might be letting colleagues know more about you and your partner than they would like.

Office Romance Continued

    • No pillow talkLife can become sticky when one member of a couple is on the senior management team; is the PA to the managing director or is a member of the finance or human resources team.

      Co-workers and senior managers will frown on pillow talk that involves sensitive or commercially secret information.


    • Life ‘outside’Dr John Armstrong, author of Conditions of Love – The Philosophy of Intimacy, advises couples to make a particular effort to talk about things other than work.

      “Something has brought couples together that is very, very specific – a project, a detested boss – so the romance could be very intense but it’s only about a little part of their lives when you consider their lives as a whole,” he says.

      “For love to survive, the relationship has to be very broadly based and it has to work in lots of ways,” he says.

      He says that someone attracted to a coworker because they want to “feel understood” could create an unrealistic expectation that everything he or she does will be understood.

      “It’s a very beautiful ideal but it doesn’t work in reality,” he says.


    • Winners and losers“When people are in love they tend to think they are special and they might even feel slightly sorry for the rest of the world – other people are nice but they are not as wonderful as their partner,” says Dr Armstrong.

      As a result, co-workers can feel excluded. Or maybe all your gushing is just plain painful. The bottom line is ‘be aware’ of how you’re acting


  • Tips for managersManagers risk being accused of discrimination or of intruding into the private life of their employees if they don’t tread carefully when tackling any behavior or work performance issue involving a couple.

    “Managers should role play how they propose handling the situation with the HR manager,” she says. “Even experienced HR people should tread carefully with this issue.”

By Kate Southam, Editor

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