Career Guide

How to Deal With a Stressful Job

According to research, the average professional has 30 to 100 work-related projects on their plate. They’re interrupted seven times an hour and distracted up to 2.1 hours a day. Adding to this, 4 out of 10 people working at large companies are experiencing a major corporate restructuring, and therefore facing great uncertainly about their futures. This may be why more than 40% of adults admit to lying awake at night plagued by the stressful events of the day. Sound familiar?

But a stressful work environment doesn’t mean doom and gloom. We chat with Mark Bennet, Head Chef at the award-winning Esca Bimbadgen, who knows exactly what a stressful day at the office is all about – working in a job that demands unflagging commitment and energy, gruelling hours and inflexible deadlines.

Mark shares his top tips on dealing with an overwhelming workload and keeping cool in an ever-changing environment that pulls you from every direction.

Get outside
Being outdoors for some period of the day has an amazing power to calm and connect us with our roots. Light exercise can be a great release for stress even if its as simple as walking the dog in the early morning along your street with the sunrise and the birds singing. It is a great way to create a clear slate in your head and organise your thoughts. Even heading down to the beach and strolling barefoot through the sand with the waves of the ocean in the background has a strong power to instantly relieve symptoms of stress.

Sleep well
Getting enough sleep seems counter productive. You are busy and you have lots to do, so sleep more. Plenty of experts say that a lack of sleep can make us more stressed and ultimately less productive. Everybody’s sleep demands are different, some people thrive on 6 hours sleep whilst other need a full 8 hours. When you are assessing how much sleep you need, be true to yourself. If you only ever get 6 hours sleep and you are always relying on coffee to be awake and are constantly irritable and tired, chances are you are the sort of person who needs 8 hours sleep.

It’s amazing how just being organised reduces the pressure placed on you. Planning your workday with realistic work loads and goals can make you much more productive and breaks down a seemingly large task into small little pieces. This is how chefs manage to prepare large amounts of food for large amounts of people to serve in a short amount of time, organisation. A prep list at the start of the day helps chefs to be much more productive then just jumping from job, to job as they arise. Tackling large amounts of your workload and being productive in your day, greatly reduces the amount of stress you feel.

Prepare for potential problems that may arise
Preparing for things that might go wrong helps tremendously to ease your mind. This is as simple as just having a plan should something not work out the way you intended. In the kitchen we always prepare for the unexpected, just by talking about what dietary substitutes we may be able to offer people, should they come and dine, rather then leaving the discussion to when the situation arises.

Remember what is important
Yes your job is important and without it, it would be very hard to pay the bills and do all the things that you enjoy. However do not let work get in the way of enjoying your life. We all work, so that we can live. We don’t live, so that we can work. Take time off to enjoy your life. I tell my new apprentices working in a kitchen is tough and stressful at times. Always remember to maintain a lifestyle outside of work. If all you do is eat, sleep and work you will burn yourself out and leave the industry before your career even starts. No one’s job can substitute for all that life has to offer. Get up early and do something before your shift starts, embrace your days off and see your family and friends. It’s the little things that will keep you grounded and happy in the industry for years to come.

How do you cope with a stressful work environment?

The art of the group interview

Don’t let a group interview throw you. Follow the advice of expert Jacqui Whyatt, general manager of recruitment services for the Chandler Macleod Group and be prepared.CareerOne has received several emails from job hunters invited to take part in group interviews. Most seem at a loss as to how to prepare for such an interview and what to wear on the day. Some have been fearful about the great “unknown” factor of what exactly will take place.How it works
The group interview is generally used by organisations looking to recruit several people at once. This style of recruiting allows a company to assess many candidates simultaneously so it’s much faster than the traditional one-on-one approach.

Call centres and companies recruiting several people to join a new or existing customer service team particularly favour the group interview.

Often two people will run the group interview – a representative of the hiring company and a specialist recruitment consultant. They are generally on the hunt for attributes such as good problem-solving skills, strong communication skills, a customer service focus and the ability to work with a team.

Ms Whyatt says that instead of following the traditional question and answer format, participants will be placed in groups to solve problems.

“The group interview is designed to test participants against a range of competencies for a particular role while also giving candidates a thorough look at what the company and the role is all about,” says Ms Whyatt.

Participants are asked to come up with a solution for a particular scenario. This could involve one of the participants acting the part of an angry customer while another plays the customer service person dealing with the problem.

Speaking in front of the group is a pretty distinct possibility as it is likely each participant will be asked to act out a role at some point. Ms Whyatt says it’s also possible each candidate will be asked to tell the group about themselves and explain why their particular attributes suit one of the roles on offer.

“Be prepared for the unexpected. You will find yourself in situations where you have limited time and a limited brief to solve a problem,” says Ms Whyatt.

Another piece of advice is to be active. If you hang back, you will not provide the recruiters with anything to assess you on. Employers are looking for people who are outgoing and proactive but being dominating and outrageous will guarantee you attention of the WRONG kind.

“Try to be as natural as possible because you are more likely to end up in a role that is truly suited to you if you act yourself,” says Ms Whyatt.

“If you are trying to act a role, you will find it so much harder to be at ease and confident.”

Next week, How to Prepare.

The right (wo)man for the job

Sarina Russo has succeeded in the male-dominated world of business.Her Queensland-based Sarina Russo Group employs 550 people in 30 offices across three states. She owns no less than four commercial buildings in Brisbane’s CBD as well as apartments in both Brisbane and Sydney. Oh, and she drives a Porche.

Not bad for someone whose teachers privately voted least likely to succeed. Even in the early days of her career, Sarina was “let go” several times from jobs as a legal secretary.

However, there has been no silver spoon or lucky breaks, just immense self-belief and lots of hard work.

After being shown the door one too many times, Sarina started her own typing school in 1979 above a bank. Along the way, many people have told her not to aim too high from ex-bosses and to quickly dismissed bank managers.

When she entered a glittering hotel ballroom on the arm of former US President Bill Clinton a couple of years ago, she knew she had surpassed every naysayer many times over. “Massive success”, she says, truly is the best revenge.

Here are some of the strategies Sarina used to get to the top:


When people told Sarina: “you’ll never do it”. Her response was to tell herself “I am going to do this or die.” While the words sound a bit dramatic, they translated into steely determination that helped Sarina meet every challenge.

“Work harder on yourself than your job”

Sarina first heard these words more than 20 years ago when she attended a seminar given by motivational guru Jim Rohn. She has lived by them ever since.

She works out with a personal trainer on most days, watches what she eats and is passionate about long life learning. She told CareerOne that on her journey to the top she attended “as many motivational seminars as I could find on developing self-esteem and self image …” Sarina has also put herself through business programs including a course at Harvard University in the US.

“I put my health first and have been doing that for 17 years,” says Sarina. “In a world of challenge and uncertainty it’s important to exercise, eat well and get enough sleep.”

Other tips include: “find mentors, visit stimulating places, read good books and listen to uplifting music.”

What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?

Don’t you just hate that moment in a job interview when you’re asked to reveal your strengths and weaknesses?As if you are going to answer truthfully. “My strengths include being a really good party host and my weaknesses include the fact that my mind often wanders to thoughts about my next party when I am supposed to be adding up figures.” Yeah right.

I know a sales consultant who told her interviewer point blank: “You don’t really expect me to tell you my weaknesses?” She got the job.

However, when interviewing with experts such as a recruitment consultant or a human resources professional using humour or candour is unlikely to get you anywhere but onto the reject pile.

Graham Smith of Heritage Recruitment said asking a candidate about their strengths and weaknesses is an important way to test his or her suitability

for a particular role.

“You are trying to see if the person has a sense of his or her own limitations,” he said. “You also want to know what the person is good at and

how that might fit into the role you are trying to fill.”

“The interviewer wants to make sure the candidate has the right ‘behaviours’ and skills for the job. After the interview, the interviewer will then verify that the candidate has the skills they claim to. For example, is the person good at problem-solving? Will they work well in a team? Do they have an eye for detail and are they a self-starter?”

Both Mr Smith and Nicole Gorton, Australian branch manager of OfficeTeam, said it was very important that candidates provide specific examples to demonstrate their “strengths”.

Career Tips: Please don’t go!

If your employer tries to entice you into staying after you have announced

your intention to leave, BEWARE.

Executive recruiter Paul Hawkinson says that in his more than 30-year career

he has only ever known a few examples where accepting a counter offer to

stay with a current employer actually turned out to be a good career


Your career is your very own business. Deciding to move to a new role is a

business decision – not an emotional one – and so you need to keep a clear

head if your current employer tries to get you to stay.

First up, keep in mind why you are leaving. Reasons could include that you

are unhappy in your current role, you believe you are worth more money in

the current market or that the new role will give you greater responsibility

and thus help build your skill set.

Managers want people to stay for a variety of reasons but mostly because a

team member’s departure looks bad on him or her. Everyone can be replaced

but how quickly and at what cost is the question your manager will need to

wrestle with.

Your departure might impact on the morale of the team or it might be

following closely on the heels of another resignation. It could mess up the

holiday leave schedule or delay the start of an important project.

Whatever the impact, push your ego to one side. The manager’s reaction is

not about you but about what might happen to him or her.

It is tempting to stay when someone says: “We need you.” Tempting but not

always a good idea.

At the end of the day, if it has taken your resignation to get your boss to

offer you the additional responsibility, pay increase, promotion or window

office that you have been asking for then GO.

And if you decide to stay, don’t kid yourself that you haven’t created just

a tad of ill will. Are you really a team player? Will you jump ship the next

time you don’t get what you want? Counter offers can also be a tactic to

give your company time to find someone to fill your shoes.

According to Paul Hawkinson, well-managed companies do not make

counter-offers “ever”.

“Their policies are fair and equitable. They will not be subjected to

‘counter-offer coercion’ or what they perceive as blackmail.”

Now that’s settled, you can get back to the business of telling your

colleagues where you want them to hold your farewell and booking the exotic

holiday you are going to take before staring your new job.

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

Job offer checklist

Don’t be too quick to yell, “yes” when offered a new role. Career experts advise that it’s important to spend some time looking ahead to see if the role will serve your professional long term goal.

Max Eggert, chief psychologist with Sydney-based firm Transcareer provided CareerOne with this list of 20 questions to ponder before you accept a job offer.

Some questions are obviously more important than others are, but all are significant and designed to help you make the right decision.

Be honest with yourself – don’t be blinded by money, desperation to get out of the job you are in or the fact the firm offering the job is supposedly fashionable or prestigious.

Here we go!

  • Can I do the work required of me?If your answer is, “with my eyes closed”, then this job won’t hold you for long and it’s unlikely to help you build your skill set.
  • Do I want to do this work?Again, if you are tired of your job it could be the work you are doing rather than just the particular work environment.
  • How does this job fit into my ten-year career plan?
  • How can I use this job to help me work towards my career goals?
  • Is the job in sync with my values and principles?
  • Will there be an opportunity for me to develop and learn new skills in this job? Always ask a potential employer about its attitude to training and development and if it will support your particular study aspirations.
  • How long should I plan to stay in this job?

    To work this out, you need to know about the opportunities for study, professional advancement and even if there are secondment programs available.

  • Do I know the specific job criteria?
  • Why did the last person leave this job and, are there any implications for me?
  • Will I get on with my new boss?
  • Will I get on with my new team?
  • Will this job give me a greater profile in the company/industry and or profession?
  • Is the market rate for the job equitable?
  • Who can mentor me in this job so I can be successful?
  • What will be the networking opportunity in this job?
  • If this job does not work out? What is my “Plan B”?
  • Will I be able to balance the demands of this job with my commitments and interests outside of work?
  • How will this job affect my status in the organisation/community?
  • How can I accelerate my experience in the early days/honeymoon period of this job?
  • What is the earliest, easiest and highest profile success I can achieve in this job?

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

Online Job Hunting – Its So Easy

Cyber Careers

Job-Hunting Online

By Denise Montgomery

Imagine this: it’s Monday morning, you’re sitting at work. You’ve got Saturday’s paper stretched out across your desk, and with highlighter in hand you are busily circling adverts; you’re so engrossed in your task that you don’t notice your boss making her way across the office towards you until it’s too late. You fumble awkwardly with pages of newsprint, you try to look casual, but it’s no good. You know you’ve been caught red-handed! Gulp!

Now, imagine this: it’s Monday morning, you’re sitting at work. There’s no newspaper on your desk, no highlighter in your hand. You’re engrossed in the jobs advertised on your computer screen, so engrossed that you don’t notice your boss making her way across the office towards you until she’s standing at your desk. Within a heartbeat you hit “alt tab” and casually engage in conversation with your boss.

No comparison! Traditional job-hunting is murder on the nerves if you’re trying to hunt at work. Trawling through the situations vacant column in a newspaper looking for a job is just soooo yesterday.

With your bum planted firmly on a chair you can research a company that you think you might to work for, as well as look for specific jobs all over the country – even all over the world. Gone are the days of having to pull out your “best” stationery, and turn the house upside-down to find a stamp. Online job-hunting allows you to make the initial contact online, whilst you’re feeling inspired, just fire off an email. You can usually create a resume at online job sites, but it is best to have one prepared beforehand so you can attach it or cut and paste the relevant bits into the resume form. So what are you waiting for? Click to it!

Online Employment Agencies…

Denise Montgomery is a senior journalist with the award-winning magazine New Zealand NetGuide (www.netguide.co.nz) – one of Australasia’s fastest growing technology publications. Launched in September 1996, its success led to the launch of a sister publication, Australian NetGuide (www.netguide.au.com). NetGuide is a consumer magazine, written in a non-techie way, that &gets you to the best stuff on the Net&.

How to Like Your Job?

Do you find that because of our slow economy, financial needs or just life situations (credit cards) we stay in jobs we really don’t love? You don’t mind your colleagues and you really don’t mind the work either. Don’t panic because it’s not a bad thing to feel ‘okay’ about your day job. In fact there are ways to feel positive and good about going to work.Accept the situation

One thing to remember is not to put your job before everything else in your life. Have key areas and determine your priorities. Some people put relationships, self, spouse, family and friends and then work. Of course you can’t be unrealistic and think that work will never get out of control on occasions, but, if you start prioritizing your life? work won’t get your down. Don’t apologise if your job is not on the top of your list.

Expand your outside life

If you have worked out your priorities you can now expand your life outside of the office. Make friends unrelated to your job; don’t get involved in activities that are glorified networking opportunities. Surround yourself with positive people that inspire you.

How to Like Your Job? (Cont’d)

Take control of your lack of motivation

If you are feeling a tad bored at work and unmotivated this can be for a number of reasons. The first thing to do is ask yourself, “Why am I bored and unmotivated?” It might be because you have outgrown the job, are bored with the routine or not getting the appropriate feedback you need. A tip to conquer this is to look around at work and see what things need fixing? then go about doing it. Not only will you be seen as taking initiative but also you will feel excited about tackling a new responsibility.Get a hold of your life outside of the office

It’s not abnormal to have your personal life come into the office. You have to recognize this as a temporary situation and that you have to get a hold of it. The best bit of advice I was given was to talk to my manager to see if there were ways I could re-prioritise to get my job done and stay sane. Ask your support systems and don’t try to be a martyr. Only makes your life harder.

Deal with office politics

Keep above the politics. Stay focused on the goals of your job and your projects. Remember you are a professional and don’t get sucked into coffee shop bitching. Never gossip about the people you don’t like to anyone at work. There is no point putting your energy into the people you dislike at work.