Category Archives: Career Guidance Service

Why losing his job made him a winner

Dean and Career Coach Donna

Recently I caught up with past client, Dean. I was Dean’s career transition coach when his previous employer made his credit management position redundant back in 2014. At the time Dean and his wife had a new baby and he was the primary breadwinner. Needless to say it was a little scary for Dean to have unexpectedly found himself unemployed.

As I’ve since learnt is Dean’s style, he eagerly embraced the career transition process. He incorporated the new knowledge I shared about planning for job search, writing a highly effective resume and standing out at interview. He approached the consultations enthusiastically and delivered on what he committed to. Unsurprisingly, within a relatively short time he secured a new role. First in a start-up before moving on to another role after six months. Dean says that the achievement-based resume he’d developed during the coaching process clearly stood out and gave him the confidence he needed to move on easily to future roles.

A couple of years down the track, and with twins added to the family, Dean received a life changing call. Long time mate, Justin, had just registered his new credit management company and wanted Dean to join the team. Dean jumped at the opportunity to be involved in creating this new business and knew that he’d be able to contribute many of the skills he’d developed since redundancy.

Initially Credit Solutions’ Queensland branch operated from Justin’s home office but a few months in they opened an office at North Lakes in Brisbane and employed their first team member. Now, less than a year later, they employee over 20 staff and one of their trainees has been nominated for Queensland Trainee of the Year. The day before we met up Dean’s team helped him celebrate his one year of service, awarding him a Certificate of Excellence as a Team Leader.

Dean has hit his career stride. He’s working to his strengths and doing what he loves. What fulfils him most is watching their staff grow and helping them to reach their potential. Justin and Dean work on the floor with the team. There’s no fancy corner offices, simply a work culture that strongly values people. Their staff turnover, at practically zero, clearly defies the industry average of around 50%.

Credit Solutions goes from strength to strength, extending their services to include multiple offices of a law firm this year. With so much growth, the future for Dean and the team is looking bright.

Today Dean loves his role, team, conditions and the company and its values. In fact, he has never been happier at work, something he definitely did not foresee when unemployed back in 2014.

Do you love your work or is it time you considered working with a career coach? Call Judith on 0400 739 919 to work with a Brisbane career coach or visit the Career Development Association of Australia to find a practitioner near you.

Simple steps to finding a job you’ll love

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Finding a job you love and are good at is a common goal. Some may even feel it is some unattainable dream. It doesn’t have to be a fantasy, you can do something you enjoy for a living and excel at it.

To do this you need to identify what your strengths, skills, and passions are. Once you know where your strengths are you can use that information to find a career that allows you to thrive.

Strengths and Passions

There are many ways to find out where your strengths lie and what gets you excited. You could simply make a list of things people tell you that you are good at to start your strengths list. Then take that list and ask friends, or coworkers if you have them, what they would add to it. In terms of passions, try thinking of what you love to do at work and in your spare time. Don’t worry about whether or not it could be something you can do as a career at this point.

Another option is taking a personality test to help you see where your personality lies. These tests ask a series of questions and has you rank your agreement or disagreement to each. 16 Personalities is one of my favorite free versions of the popular Myers-Briggs assessment. Once you take the quiz the site gives you a very detailed insight into your personality.

Connecting with a career counselor to help you to identify your strengths and passions can also be a great idea. It can be hard for us to work out what we are good at and enlisting the help of a professional can be very insightful.

Applying it to a Career

 Once you’ve worked out what you are good at and what keeps you engaged and excited, what do you do with that information? If you have found that what you enjoy doing is completely unrelated to what your current profession is, brainstorm some ways you can move into the field you would be more passionate about. What skills or certifications would you need to gain? Is there a way you can start out as a side gig or volunteer to gain the experience you need?

If you took a personality test, there are tons of ways to see career options based on your personality type. Business Insider has a great infographic showing popular career options based on the Myers-Briggs assessment. You will have to do some internal reflection to see which role types align with your passions for the best outcome.

With such a big decision, talking to someone about what you are thinking is a great option. This can be family and friends or a professional career coach. Take in their advice but remember to choose based on what you are truly feeling. We spend the majority of our day at work, so why not make your career something you are great at and love to do!

At Career Vitality, we specialise in helping people find a job they’ll love. Call Judith today on 0400 739 919 if you’d like a chat about your career.

There’s no room for technophobia in job search!

Technology is all around us. The internet is a part of our daily lives, so it is no surprise it’s a huge part of the job hunt as well. You’ll certainly want to use technology to your advantage.

Creating a professional brand that attracts the employers you are interested in joining is key to using technology effectively.

So how exactly can you make sure you are promoting yourself appropriately? Read on to find out!

Job Search

 There is more than traditional job boards online to find a great position. LinkedIn is the largest professional social media site in existence today. Use this site as an online resume to show employers why you will be a great addition to their company.

Recruiters search the site frequently for keywords related to the positions they are recruiting for. Make sure your profile includes the keywords you want to be in the results for. Use a professional picture to show them you are someone they want to work with.

Connect with recruiters and hiring managers in the companies you want to work with. They will also post opportunities on their profiles, so make sure you check your feed!

Opportunity is a newcomer to the professional online networking scene. It isn’t anywhere near the size of LinkedIn, but it wouldn’t hurt to create a profile on this site as well.

Facebook is also a spot to connect with companies to locate roles. Many companies engage on this platform to share company news and opportunities. Career counsellors are also a great option to connect with on social media. They may share opportunities and job search tips that will aid in your search!

To research potential companies, make sure you review them on sites like Glassdoor. Make an informed decision on where you would be the happiest. You can also see important information about salary and benefits.

Online Presence

 Employers use technology to research candidates as well. Try googling your name to see what pops up. Likely one of the first links is your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn ranks really high in search engine results, so make sure your profile is a great representation of yourself.

Your other online profiles will also show up in search results. If you are in the job market and don’t want employers to troll your social media, adjust your privacy settings. This may not keep everything from showing up, but it will make it much harder for them to find personal content.

To be on the safe side, review your social media accounts. Do they represent the brand you want to promote? Take down any pictures or posts that don’t reflect your professional image. This way if your settings aren’t enough, there won’t be anything negative for potential employers to see.

Technology has made the job search more simple yet more complex than ever. There are numerous career sites, with new ones added every day. Sometimes it is too much to navigate alone. Consider hiring a career coach to help you use social media to your advantage in your job search.

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!

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

Career Coach Brisbane

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 0400 739 919. 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.