September 2023 Dealing with Difficult People Newsletter

Home Newsletter September 2023 Dealing with Difficult People Newsletter

Last month we discussed Roberta Cava’s book Human Resources Policies and Procedure Manual. This month we will discuss her information about: Applying for a job based on her book What am I going to do with the rest of my life.

During the last t years many of you have found drastic changes in how you do your work. Some of you have become unemployed. Others have been quarantined into their homes. And still others have worked from home.

Many of you have decided that you really don’t like the work you have been doing in the past and feel it’s time to change. This is the ideal time to do so, and I encourage you to do so rather than spend more time doing work you don’t like.

Men spend approximately 45 years of their adult life in the workforce before retirement. Women spend anywhere from 35-45 years. So, if you are 40 years of age – just think how many more years you will be working in a job you don’t like!


During this COVID-19 pandemic there are a large portion of populations unemployed and many in Australia are registered for JobKeeper and JobSeeker. However, they are still unemployed and are probably anxious to get back to work. For decades I was a career counsellor but can’t offer that kind of service now because of the pandemic. But what I can do is give you some valuable information on what employers are really looking for. Here are some of the steps I suggest you take so you are ahead of your competition.

Step 1 – Write down your transferrable skills. Transferrable skills are those skills you can take from one occupational field into another. For example: supervisory skills, interpersonal skills, accounting knowledge, aptitude with figures and scheduling skills are all transferrable skills. This will allow new horizons to open for you.

It’s a good idea to ask your close friends and relatives to help you with this set of questions. They may see qualities in you – that you’ve overlooked.

One of my clients (who was presently working as a nursing supervisor) decided that she didn’t want to work shift work any longer because she had a young family. She felt she couldn’t find work in any other occupation, so did not seek career counselling until her family situation became intolerable. We were able to identify her transferrable skills as follows. She:

  • Knew how to supervise others (junior nursing staff).
  • How to schedule (complete activities within a set time-frame – arranging for patients to have medication – get to X-ray or Cat scans etc.).
  • Had highly honed interpersonal skills (could deal with all kinds of people, from callous doctors, impatient technicians, to unhappy patients and their family members).
  • Could keep meticulously detailed reports (of medication, patient’s condition – general condition).
  • Remained calm in an emergency (there are always crisis in a hospital).
  • Was physically fit (had to be on her feet most of the day and manipulate heavy patients) and
  • Was a quick decision-maker (how to handle unexpected or critical situations).

These were talents that could be useful in many occupations. She just had to find which one she wanted to work in. She admitted that one of her passions was ladies’ fashion. After examining her transferrable skills, I advised her that if she got the necessary retail training, she’d likely have little trouble obtaining a position in a retail woman’s shop. She admitted that she’d never thought of that as an alternative, because it wouldn’t pay her enough.

I reminded her of her transferrable skills:

  • The ability to supervise others (retail staff).
  • Knowledge of scheduling (ordering stock).
  • Highly honed interpersonal skills in dealing with all kinds of people (snarly clients and suppliers).
  • An ability to keep meticulously detailed reports (inventory and sales information).
  • An ability to remain calm in an emergency (with both clients and staff).
  • Physical fitness (stock-room gymnastics to reach and wrestle with stock).
  • An ability to decide quickly (special prices for stock items).

All of these made her a good candidate for a management position in the retail industry.

Step 2 – Apply for the job: Many people don’t feel the need to use a resume. They fill in an application form and hope it will represent them well. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. Usually, the only thing representing you prior to an interview is your resume (or at worst, a company application form). If your resume isn’t ‘up to par’ you likely won’t be asked to come for an interview. Use a resume ‑ a good one that ‘sells’ your unique talents and abilities. This applies to blue- and pink-collar workers as well as white-collar ones! Watch for words in their recruitment information – and be sure to let them know why you think you would fit the position. This is why each resume should identify the qualities the company are looking for (don’t lie!).

Step 3 – Attend an interview: If you’re called in for an interview, remember that you’re there to sell yourself. Don’t let shyness keep you from ‘tooting your own horn.’ Know your strengths and weaknesses and be ready to discuss them with the interviewer. Have facts clear in your mind, anticipate the interviewers’ questions and have information handy that they might need (such as a list of references). If you’re overly nervous, have a friend rehearse with you doing a mock-up interview where you practice answering interview questions.

Make sure your physical appearance is neat and clean and that your apparel suits the position you’re applying for (even labouring or blue-collar positions). Never, under any circumstances, wear jeans or corduroys to an interview for an office position. No runners or trainers. Successful women do not wear cardigans – they wear jackets to match their outfits. They use suitable makeup and both men and women have a good haircut. Men wear matching outfits – shirts, slacks, socks, shoes and jacket if applicable. Wear apparel that is one step up from the level of position you’re applying for.

Other things that employers may feel do not make you a good candidate (whether warranted or not) can be:

  • Visible piercing (except 2 ear rings). No eyebrow, nose, tongue, or lip rings.
  • Visible tattoos.
  • Can’t express yourself well (take Toastmaster or speech classes so you can say what you want to say when you want to say it). Make a plan before attending the interview. Watch for repetitive words or phrases such as: saying, ’uhm’ before you answer their questions. Saying, ‘You know’ repeatedly etc.

Other topics covered in my book What am I going to do with the rest of my life. are:

  • Mid-career changes
  • Employment interviews
  • Entrepreneurship (could you start your own business?)
  • Goal setting
  • Overcoming negative experiences
  • Overcoming your fears
  • How to change your approach to life.

Roberta Cava has over three decades of Human Resources experience and has been Head of Human Resources for firms in Canada and Australia. She is a best-selling author of non-fiction books. In total she has written 70 books; eight of them fiction and 46 non-fiction. Roberta lives on the Gold Coast of Queensland in Australia.

To order her books:

Go to then click ‘Books’ and under ‘search’ put Roberta Cava (which will bring up all of her books).

To contact Roberta or Cava Consulting, please send an e-mail to: