The CV Blog

Who’s in charge of your life? Three tips for better balance.

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Having, or doing, it all is something many of us strive for. The reality is it’s actually very difficult to achieve the right balance in life. While there will be times different parts of your life may take over for a period, there are some risks if one particular area consistently consumes the lion’s share of your energy. Here’s a few tips that can help restore some calm in your life and help ensure that you are living the life you want rather than just reacting to what’s thrown your way.


 To get a life balance that works for you, the first step is to know what you want. Make a list of what is most important to you at this stage of life. For this to work, you need to be honest with yourself. Don’t think about what is expected of you or what other people may think. If work is your top priority, put it at the top. If you feel that spending time with friends tops the list, make it number one. Ensure that you have more than a few items on your list and consider how you will invest time into each.

Getting this clarity will help you plan a life that will lead to more happiness and satisfaction. If you need help determining what your priorities you might involve your nearest and dearest. If you need someone more objective you could consider a career or life coach to help talk you through it.


 Once you have your priorities listed, plan to organise your day. As the popular saying goes “failing to plan is planning to fail”. Start your day by looking at your calendar. Block off 30 minutes from the time you typically start your work day. Then use that time to make a task list for your day. Reflecting on your priorities, include the top activities you need to accomplish to make your day a success. This list does not need to be long.

Next, block off an hour for lunch to ensure you have a break in the middle of your day. Then block administrative time to ensure you have time to complete the tasks you set forth for your day. I recommend an hour in the morning, an hour in the afternoon, and thirty minutes before your planned finish time.

Say No

Perhaps the most important part of this is saying no. To achieve your task list, you will need to learn to say no to the priorities of others. This means ignoring emails until you have completed your tasks (you could check in now and again to make sure there is nothing urgent but don’t get sucked into the everyday emails). When people call, they can leave a message. Perhaps check the messages from time to time to assess urgency but otherwise stay on task.

If you are one to drop everything to help people, it will take some getting used to. What you need to remember is that people calling and emailing you are doing so for their priorities. If you are working on the same priorities, answer the call. If not, you can help them when, or if, you have the time after you complete your priorities.

Any change can seem daunting and scary. Making these adjustments to how you work is going to take you out of your comfort zone but how comfortable are you right now with your life balance? For help with this topic or other career issues you are having, one of the best resources you can access is a career counsellor. If you are in the Brisbane area, reach out to Donna on 0419 120 601 for a free 15 minute chat about your needs!

Spring is here. Time to Spruce up Your Resume

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It’s that time of year again – spring cleaning! Love it or hate it, this is a fantastic time to get our lives in a more organised state. We spring clean our homes, but what about our resumes? If you are considering applying to a new job, or just want to be prepared when you are, take some time to refresh your resume.

A resume should be regularly updated to keep it fresh. If you haven’t looked at it in a while, it is likely in need of some changes to reflect your recent achievements. The great news is we have put together some ways to upgrade your current resume and get noticed.


When was the last time you updated your resume format? Using a template you have used for the past five years is likely going to look boring and dated and will be less competitive in the market. Current styles focus on easy to read resumes that highlight important information.

Maximise the impact of the top 30% of your first page. Often readers won’t read your entire resume but instead will scan for keywords. This modern format accounts for that short scan and aids in putting that information in a way that is easy to read. CareerOne offers some great achievement based templates you can download and use for free.

Revise Experience Section

Sometimes we fall short in showcasing our value by using the experience section as a list of job duties. While you want to let potential employers know what you did in your role, flip it to highlight your achievements. The CAR model (challenge, action, results) can help you to construct your bullet point achievements.

Managers want to see the tangible assets you bring to the table. Think about ways you have improved processes or saved the company money. If you are in a revenue generating role, let them know your impact on the bottom line. Anytime you can quantify how you improved the company, the easier it will be for the manager to see what you can potentially do for them.

Optimise Keywords

When you apply for a job there is an increasing chance that it will go into an applicant tracking system (ATS). This is an online recruiting system to help recruiters and hiring managers find the best candidates for their openings. Most ATS’s have software that matches resumes to the posted job description and recommend a match.

In addition, recruiters search places like LinkedIn for candidates with keywords from the job description. To make sure your resume is compatible, research the words that frequently show up in the roles you are interested in.

Revamping your resume is the first step in starting your job search. Get your chance to wow the hiring manager during the interview process and land your dream job! For more help with career guidance, including interview preparation consider hiring a career coach. Donna can help prepare you for your interview and help you feel confident in your answers, giving you the best chance of an offer.

Supercharge Your Development with a Coach

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Are you someone who wants to grow and reach your goals as quickly and efficiently as possible? I know that’s not everyone’s thinking but since I’ve worked out what I want, I know I’m constantly feeding my mind and looking for ways to accelerate the time to get there.

Recently I picked up my seven year old son from school and still had one of my favourite podcasts playing. After a couple of minutes, with me thinking “I hope some of this subliminally sinks in for him”, Matt asked “Mum, why do you listen to this stuff?” I told him that I wanted to be cleverer to which he replied “Mum, you’re already clever”. While, I wish I had recorded those words because I’m sure that’s not what he’ll be saying in another seven years, his comment reminded me of another situation that had come up.

A few months back, I engaged a speaking coach to assist with a new presentation. We met to discuss strategy, the technical aspects of speaking, issues and insights. One of the most valuable parts of our work was my coach observing me presenting and providing me with super helpful feedback, some validating but also some suggestions for improvement. After the presentation a friend who had hung back said to me, “A few of the ladies I spoke to questioned why you engaged a speaking coach when you’re already a great speaker”. While I was a little flattered by their comment I knew without a doubt that the decision to engage a coach was one of my better ones.

So why would you consider a coach? There a just so many reasons but here’s a few to consider:

  1. Expertise. Many coaches have technical and/or coaching skills that will save you from floundering around and falling into every pothole along your path. With someone who has been there guiding you, you will fast track the time it takes you to be getting the results you want.
  2. Goal setting. A coach can help you to establish what it is you want and support you to identify what you will need to do, or who you will need to be, to get there.
  3. Accountability. Sometimes even when we know what we need to do, we don’t do it. Having to report back has a way of motivating and keeping you honest.
  4. Challenge. It is so easy for us to sit in our comfort zone but a coach is all about supporting us to reach our potential. They will challenge your thinking as well as help you to set challenges for growth.
  5. Independent but invested in your success. Often our friends and partners can tire of listening to our stories and frankly they can be just a little too close to the situation. They often see us in a certain light or can bring their own issues to the discussion. A coach can be the perfect sounding board, is objective and wants you to be successful.

So far I’ve found my coaches through my networks and I’d highly recommend that. If it’s purest coaching you’re after you might try the International Coach Federation (ICF). If you want to get the best outcomes possible in your career, definitely consider a career coach. We specialise in coaching for job search, resume, interview, career management and more.

Contact Donna on 0419 120 601 or email to arrange a free 15 minute consultation about your needs and circumstances today.

Insurance against unemployment

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There are quite a few ways to protect yourself against unemployment but one of the most effective by far is creating and maintaining a large network. If you’ve worked with me in the role of career coach before, it might seem like I rabbit on about this a lot but believe me it’s for good reason.

I have seen candidates successfully transition into new roles at the speed of light after sensing a restructure on the horizon, others re-enter the workforce as a result of a school gate conversation and had clients access roles that they might not otherwise be competitive for simply because of a warm introduction via a network contact.

Even if you’re currently in a role it is always in your best interests to stay externally connected. You never know when changes will occur and it can be much more difficult to renew old relationships down the track when you’re feeling vulnerable and wondering whether the contact is thinking you’re reaching out because you’ve suddenly found yourself in need of a new role.

Often I find that clients think of their networks very narrowly but I’d really encourage you to think as broadly as possible which might include current and past colleagues, neighbours, friends at the gym, old school or uni mates, children’s friends parents, community involvement, your church, pretty much any context where you interact with other people. If you have 100 contacts but they have a 100 of their own, all of a sudden you have access to 10,000 people, less some duplication of course. You might consider preparing a network map (check out this short You Tube Video for instructions) to fully appreciate the size of your network.

So how do you maintain said network? I encourage you to keep a coffee kitty to regularly catch up with members of your network but let’s face it, there’s only so many coffees you can fit into a week. Other strategies you might use could include inviting a contact to an event with you, sharing an article that you feel would interest them, connecting them with other people where there’s a mutual interest or advantage, referring them clients or sharing an offer or opportunity with them.

Keeping track of your network is made so much easy nowdays with smartphones, platforms like LinkedIn, and handy apps such as CamCard which allows you to photograph business cards which it uploads to your smartphone as well as offering a bunch of inhouse features.

If you’re got any networking questions, or you think you might need a little career inspiration, give Donna a call on 0419 12 0601. We provide in-person career services in Brisbane and remote services nationally.

5 Podcasts for Getting Unstuck

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Are you looking for some career inspiration? Maybe you’ve realised that something needs to change but you’re not sure how to go about it. Perhaps you’re feeling really stuck and it’s paralysing.

Often some inspirational input can help shift our thinking and open our mind to possibilities. In the old days you might buy a book and hopefully you’d find the time and motivation to read it and get inspired. While books still have a place in my life (mostly on holidays), one of my favourite discoveries as a career coach has to be the world of podcasts.

These free, easy to access and digest, bytes of inspiration have the potential to change your life. I can often be found listening to one when I’m straightening my hair, driving my car, eating my lunch or just going about my business really. Many of my clients have given me feedback on the positive difference inspirational podcasts are making to their lives.

Here’s a few of my favourites that could lead to some career inspiration.

Quote-Of-The-Day – I often describe this one as an anti-depressant without side-effects. Sean Croxton pulls together the best of the best to inspire and motivate you. Varying in length from around 5 – 15 minutes this is the perfect daily dose of positivity. You will be introduced to many amazing individuals who you can then explore further depending on who/what resonates with you.

The Art of Charm – this is a great mix of inspiration and skills development for life and career. These young guys interview guest speakers, share their own experiences and respond to listener’s challenges. The average episode is around an hour and they offer loads of value.

Small Business Big Marketing – if you’re really open to what your next career step might be, this one could be for you. Designed to support small business owners with their marketing, Tim Reid’s guest’s will also inspire the potential career changer. Many have made significant career changes to arrive where they are eg. an aerospace engineer who quit his high paying job to become a very successful Uber driver and an even more successful blogger.

Magic Lessons – aimed at aspiring artists/creatives, author Elizabeth Gilbert, helps people to overcome their fears and to achieve their dreams. The guest interviews, case studies and access to experts such as Oprah’s coach, Martha Beck, will be helpful to many who are looking for career inspiration.

The Tony Robbins Podcast – if you’d like to work with one of the world’s best coaches but are not yet earning what you’d need to pay for it, think about accessing Tony Robbins and his high calibre guests through this podcast. Tony opens your mind and challenges you to go after what you want from life.

In case you’re wondering how to set up a podcast on your phone, it’s as easy as downloading an app from your app store. My iPhone automatically came with one (it’s purple and looks like an “i” with circles radiating out) and I’ve seen an equivalent on android. Subscribe to your favourites and check your feed for the latest episodes.

Need a career coach after all this inspiration, give Donna a call on 0419 120 601 or email for a free 15 minute phone consultation to get you started.

How you can create the life you want

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When you find something great do you want to shout it from the rooftops? That was exactly how I felt about goal setting after learning about it from TV personality, Julia Baker, and seeing it work in my own life. A group of our friends actually asked me to run a goal setting session on Fraser Island on the eve of 2017 and, although it was surprising, how could I say no? Everyone got so into it I also ran one back home for the Career Vitality community.

We’re now half way through the year and it’s been totally awesome to hear of the goals that have been achieved between the two groups. A friend recently shared about all the fantastic things that had been happening in her life before finally saying “it all really started with the Fraser Island goal setting”. This particular friend had been a little reluctant and sceptical when we started but she got on board and is now reaping the rewards. Another has said that her career has gone from strength to strength since the activity whilst, one of my private clients emailed to say he has reached his goals of placing in a sporting event and booking a trip to an overseas destination so far.

The process we used is fairly simple and you can read about it in a blog I wrote last year for Schoolhours. You don’t have to wait for a new year, you can start at any time, in fact there’s no time like today! This process is about manifesting what you want in your life (which obviously includes career). I sometimes find the process challenges those amongst us who like to take control and know that they are working on their goals. The risk with planning to the nth degree is that it can prevent you from seeing opportunities as they come up. Michael Wickett explains it really well in this Quote of the Day podcast – “Forget How, Forget How …”. For those who feel like they need a next level down plan, you can check out Zig Ziglar’s talk  on the same podcast but PLEASE remain open to the opportunities that you haven’t predicted.

So what are you going to achieve in the next year? If you need any help on the career front, Donna would love to support you. Services include career advice, resume and interview coaching in Brisbane (and by telephone or skype nationally), and return to work workshops for mums. Call today on 0419 120 601.


Being happy helps everything!

Are you feeling ‘stuck’ at the moment? It’s something that many of us feel at some time or another and it’s a situation I come across a lot in my work as a career coach. It’s difficult to separate the different parts of our lives – if career isn’t working for us it’s going to impact on our general happiness and likewise if we’re not feeling happy with other aspects of life, it’s going to influence the way we feel about ourselves and our work. Have you  noticed how exaggerated everything can feel when something seems crappy?

About four months again I initiated a gratitude practice with a group of friends after hearing about Pam Grout’s practice on a Sean Croxton Sessions podcast. I’d been interested in gratitude for a while due to the positive psychology research proving that it can enhance our life satisfaction and wellbeing but had struggled to maintain a daily gratitude diary. Often as my head hit the pillow I’d remember that I didn’t record that day’s gratitudes. While I’d mentally note them, I found it difficult to be consistent.

Our current practice involves a daily text to members sharing three gratitudes. Not only has this helped me to recognise the many things I have to be grateful for, it has created the unexpected benefit of allowing me to vicariously live the joy of each member of our group. Our group recently got together and everyone agreed that the practice was positively affecting their mindset and quality of life. One of our members shared that she used to pray each night for help to fix her problems but as her practice developed has instead found herself thanking God for the great things in her life (what’s more she can so clearly appreciate them now). The accountability of the group, the reminder from seeing someone else’s pop up and the regular injections of joy have been key to success.

Here’s the framework for our practice in case you’re also looking for more happiness in your life:

  • 4 members (will go to a maximum of 5)
  • Each person sends a text containing 3 things they are grateful for each day at a specified time (eg. in the evening or you could do the following morning – we allow either)
  • Ideally we can’t say the same thing twice, encouraging you to dig deeper and recognise more of the great things we take for granted
  • Everyone needs to commit to sending the gratitudes even if they are not feeling it (that’s probably when it has the most effect anyway).

If you have any questions or would like to chat about gratitude or planning a career, reach out at or on 0419 120 601. Be happy!

“Every day may not be good but there is good in every day.” – Unknown

Is something holding you back in job search?

This week one of my clients in job search mentioned some advice she’d received – “The people who get the jobs are the ones who don’t give up trying”. While it has become clear to me with years of providing career guidance that job search is best viewed as a marathon than a sprint, I would argue that persistence alone isn’t always enough for success.

One of my past clients spent close to nine months smashing out around 200 applications to find himself shortlisted for just one role. His email enquiry with “Help” in the subject line definitely caught my attention. When I spoke to him in our discovery call I realised something wasn’t adding up and once I saw his resume I quickly realised what it was. This client was exiting the air force and his resume was peppered with terminology such as “garrison”, “regiment” and defence ranks.

Our work together focused on him altering his resume and tailoring it to specific roles so that his target market could understand it and see his fit for their roles. Sadly, there are many other ways that resumes might not be speaking to our audience.  My client went on to secure a new role aligned to his skills and interests about a month later (around his official discharge date), saying to me “Wow if I’d known that was possible I could have been playing golf for these past nine months rather than enduring all that rejection and stress”.

It’s worth noting that the more senior the role the longer it can take to land a position because there are less of them and organisations often apply more rigorous recruitment processes given the importance of the roles. Having said that, there are many occasions where I’ve seen clients at all levels go from what seems like no interest in their applications to having multiple offers simultaneously.

Yes, be persistent but if your approach isn’t working, please keep tinkering with it until you see better results. If you’re still not getting the results after a few months you might consider seeing a career coach to confirm that you are giving yourself the best chance of success.

Go forth and get those jobs!

Yes you can have a career after 50!

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This week one of my career workshop participants asked whether it is actually realistic to think a career change is possible in your fifties, especially after a break from paid employment. It’s not the first time this has come up in my careers practice so I thought I’d share a few thoughts on the topic.

As someone who is turning 50 this year, I can see how my perspective on age has changed over time. I used to think that 50 seemed old but now I’m here I have to say I feel youthful, fit and healthy and love that I have wisdom and significant work experience to complement these attributes. I have absolutely no doubt that I still have a lot to offer the world of work and can demonstrate that.

I guess this brings me to my first point, mindset. What are you own thoughts about your employability? If you think companies are not going to want you, guess what, you’re right! You will go into the process inadvertently looking for signs that they are judging you as too old for the role, particularly if the interviewer(s) are younger, and this will unconsciously impact your performance. It is important that you get in touch with your skills, strengths and achievements and go into the process feeling confident and knowing how you can add value to the target role.

One of my past clients found herself unemployed in her 60s after her position was made redundant. While she wasn’t planning to embark on a totally different career path, she said to me “I don’t think I’m going to get another job because I’m too old”. I had no problem convincing her that I felt she would be successful because she had had a wonderful attitude and many achievements and skills to offer a future employer. While it took around two months, and some proactivity on the part of my client (she took her resume to organisation she was interested in working for), she secured an excellent position with a great company which was replacing a retiring staff member.

Knowing, and being able to communicate, what you can contribute to a company is paramount to success. Take stock of your skills, prepare your achievement stories (refer to my 27 March blog – “How to Ace Your Interview Responses” for a guide to doing this), and focus on establishing a strong link between yourself and the role. These don’t have to be limited to a work context and can be transferable from previous roles.

A few years ago I attended a workshop at the Career Development Association of Australia’s (CDAA) annual conference discussing a study which looked at the outcomes for a group of unemployed mature age adults. Of the 55+ age group (155 people), 62.3% secured employment and 65% of those who placed in a role had undertaken a career and resume review, engaged in job search training and/or career coaching. This information suggested to me that age is likely not what restricts those of mature age from accessing employment.

If you don’t already have a good understanding of career development and what it takes to be successful in job search reach out to someone who does. If you don’t have those skills in your network, the CDAA has a great tool on their website to search for a career practitioner. Of course, you can always call Donna at Career Vitality on 0419 120 601 for local or remote career coaching consultations.

Simple Ideas for Choosing a Career

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Are you still wondering what you’d like to be when you grow up? Believe me, many people are! As a career coach I am often asked to help adult clients to find the answer to this question, or at least what they want to do next.

This used to be my least favourite type of work but I’ve realised that’s changing with experience and achieving some great outcomes with clients – I’m often now excited about going on a journey with clients to discover more about who they are, what excites them and what next career steps they want to explore.

Usually when working with a career change client we are able to draw out a lot of valuable information through conversation and some questions. We can all get so many valuable insights from our everyday lives. On the weekend I was camping with a friend who is wondering what occupations might suit her. I asked her what she had wanted to be when she was a child? What had been easy for her that others found difficult? What held her attention? When she said she had no recollection, I suggested she speak to those who were around at the time – parents, siblings, friends, etc.

Over the course of the weekend she spoke to a chef friend of ours and talked about her love of food – saying how she ‘gets food’. Her face lit up when she spoke. I asked her what her feelings had been towards cooking when she was young and she replied “OMG that’s it, isn’t it – it’s food”. I think she would have worked it out when she reflected upon her childhood but those moments of inspiration and insight can come at any time and in many different contexts and it’s about recognising them when we see them.

Have you ever experienced a strong pull to a particular activity in either your private or work life? I once went to a story telling event at the Woodford Folk Festival and walked away saying to friends that I needed to tell a story. It was the strongest compulsion and in the next few months I spoke at three story telling events and realised how much public speaking excites and energises me. One of our CareerSmart Mums guest speakers shared her experience of immediately recognising that she wanted to be a Lifeline counsellor when she heard a radio advertisement for them – bounding out of her car to write the number down. While not everyone might experience such moments, I suspect it happens much more than we recognise or act upon. Tune in to your intuition.

If you’re still wondering what to do when you grow up, a good starting point might be:

  • Think about what energises or engages you to the point that you don’t notice time passing
  • Consider what you wanted to be as a child
  • Be open to, and seek out, the clues around you
  • Reflect on what everyone has always said you are good at
  • Seek out new experiences, learn a new skill, be curious

If you need some help or inspiration, contact Donna on 0419 120 601 or Life’s too short to not love what you do.