Suzi Sarkis


3 steps to scale-up your career in 2020

posted by Suzi Sarkis 21/02/2020 0 comments

My name is Vanessa Fajnkind, and I am the CEO here at Brook Recruitment.

When I began my career as a recruitment consultant I never dreamed I would own my own agency. I often get asked if I knew I wanted to be a business owner – the truth is, I didn’t, I just knew I loved helping people find new opportunities and fulfilling their dreams. I kept working hard and learning as much as I could, and everything was like a domino effect — one opportunity to the next. This is the same advice that I give all our candidates. You just need to keep focused on trying to move your career in the direction you want. The role you’re in might not be your dream job, but it might be a great opportunity to learn and meet new people.

Here are a few tips to help move your career in the right direction:

Focus on impact

It’s so easy to get lost in your inbox and waste an entire day on responding and attending to small tasks. At the end of the day, you’re left feeling like you’ve achieved nothing. One of the best practices I use daily is to write down the the activity that will have the most impact and do that before I’ve even checked my inbox. I’ll be honest, this is sometimes very hard to accomplish, particularly when you have clients calling you before the work day has even begun, but I never loose sight of that goal and make sure I get to it before 11am. It’s all about actually doing the work that makes a difference for the business.

Never stop learning

Find out how you like to consume your information – it could be through Twitter, LinkedIn or receiving email alerts. Set up the appropriate channel to keep you up to date with business trends, technology and the competition. But learning is more that that – nourish your soul by contributing to things that make you happy like empowering other women in business, supporting people with disabilities to have fair work opportunities, whatever it is that makes your heart feel full at the end of the day.

It’s not work-life balance if you love it!

If you do what you love than your work won’t feel like a ‘job’. For entrepreneurs, success is found when you live and breathe your business. Adopting an entrepreneurial mindset can help shift your thinking into the realities of the working world – if you want to succeed you have to work hard. I’m not suggesting that you don’t see your family or friends or take care of your mind and body – but you need to accept that you need to work hard to scale-up your career but if you do what you love then it will bring you happiness.

So there you have it!

If you are ready to scale-up your career, check out our latest roles in the Career Hub.


3 Questions You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Ask in Your Job Interview

posted by Suzi Sarkis 18/11/2019 0 comments

Looking for a job? Many job seekers focus so hard on answering interview questions well that they forget that they are there to find out more information about the role too.

 Asking the right questions at an interview is important for two reasons:

    1. It’s an opportunity to show a deeper understand and interest in the company and role.
    2. You can learn a lot more about the realities of the position, in particular, those area’s that you might consider deal-breakers.

At the end of the interview you want to have achieved 2 things:

1.    You want to have demonstrated your aptitude for the role.

2.    You want to have a clearer sense of whether the employer is the right fit for you.

There are an infinite number of questions you could ask during a job interview, but if you stay focused on those 2 goals, the questions should come easily to you.

 Here are some suggestions:

What skills and experiences would make an ideal candidate? This is a great open-ended question that will have the interviewer put his or her cards on the table and state exactly what the employer is looking for. If the interviewer mentions something you didn’t cover yet, now is your chance. (Forbes)

Have I answered all your questions? Before you begin asking your questions, find out if there’s anything they’d like you to elaborate on. Not only will they appreciate the offer, but it may be a good chance for you to gauge how well you’re doing.

What have you enjoyed most about working here? This question allows the interviewer to connect with you on a more personal level, sharing his or her feelings. The answer will also give you unique insight into how satisfied people are with their jobs there. If the interviewer is pained to come up with an answer to your question, it’s a big red flag. (Forbes)

Beyond the hard skills required to successfully perform this job, what soft skills you see as fundamental to the role?

Knowing what skills the company thinks are important will give you more insight into its culture and its values. You can read more about the 3 soft skills you need to master here.  


3 surprising ways to improve your interview technique

posted by Suzi Sarkis 22/01/2018 0 comments

Most often, we never know exactly why that coveted job we’re so right for doesn’t work out. The intuitive sense of disconnection you felt after the interview may or may account for not winning the role. (the Collective Hub)

However, if you’re looking to for a few different techniques to add to your performance, consider these 3 strategies.

#1 Put yourself in their shoes

Focus on what you think they would want to know about you – not what you want them to know.

When you’re focused on selling yourself as the absolute best person for the job, it’s easy to overlook some key points of interest from an interviewer’s perspective.

Put yourself in the shoes of someone with a complex, crowded working day that includes interviewing multiple people, trying to find someone that will be the ‘right fit’. You can picture them, locked away in a room, asking the same series of questions over and over again. Make their job easier – make yourself stand out from the crowd by giving them an informed response that answers their needs first.

#2 Steer the conversation to the future

Behavioural interviewing is still the baseline for recruitment. This means you’re most likely going to be asked about your past achievement, why you want to leave your current role and what interested you in the current position.

These types of questions can tell a recruiter or employer a lot about who you are. Be prepared so you can demonstrate that you are the amazingly accomplished person you described in your resume. You can then try to steer the conversation into what you would like to achieve in the role and why you think your experience will allow you to provide exceptional value to the organisation.

#3 Cultural fit is everything

Researching a company thoroughly is paramount to getting an inside look at what’s important to the business and its staff. Use sources like LinkedIn and other social sites to deep dive into press releases, staff profiles, events. Try to talk to someone who works with, or for, the company or someone who uses their products and services.

Showing you fit the company’s culture can be more important than your experience or qualifications.

If you’re looking for more tips and advice on how to prepare for an interview read our interview survival guide.


The rise of Gurner TM Executive Assistant – Rachel Bergstrom

posted by Suzi Sarkis 16/01/2018 0 comments

It was only eight years ago when GURNER™ first launched Oxley in Collingwood. At the time, Collingwood was perceived as a dangerous, run down location. Today, the inner suburb paints a very different picture, especially in the Foy and Gibson heritage area where we have developed eight buildings with another six in the pipeline. You see a thriving retail, arts and cultural hub, surrounded by some of Melbourne’s most popular restaurants and bars. Urban regeneration goes beyond converting former industrial zones into desirable residential precincts. It is the catalyst to cultural, environmental and community transformation, creating new opportunities, jobs and places people can enjoy. (

After completing university and then her Agent’s Representative Diploma back in 2008, Rachel Bergstrom parlayed her passion for property into a coveted role as an Executive Assistant at property development firm, Gurner TM. We interviewed her back in 2015 to see what a typical day in her life as an EA for a top property developer was like. Read more here.

Today her role has evolved and expanded across all areas within the business. We sat down with Rachel to hear what she has learnt over the years in her time as an EA in one of Melbourne biggest most highly sought after property developers.

You started with Property Development powerhouse Gurner TM in 2012. What was your first day like?

My first day was exciting and intense. I spent most of the day getting to know the team and getting a deeper understanding of the role as there was no prior EA to train me. I needed to come up to speed with the all our current projects that were in the pipeline quickly and at the same time was tasked by our Director to come up with clever out of the box way to survey Gurner TM purchaser satisfaction. Purchaser satisfaction underpins the Gurner TM difference. We collaborate only with the finest calibre of architects, designers and consultants from across the globe to set new benchmarks for luxury living in Australia and have a commitment to innovation and attention to detail across all aspects, from design to construction.

Looking back over the last 5 years in your role as Executive Assistant to Tim Gurner, what are the 3 things you would say to someone starting out in your position?

#1 Industry knowledge
Having an understanding and experience in the real estate industry was fundamental to my success at Gurner TM. Having prior knowledge allowed me to be able to learn quickly on the job, and absorb the lingo and concepts used every day in the property development sphere. The more industry-specific knowledge you have, the more valuable you become. By learning as much about the industry you work in, you become a great resource for your company and a valuable asset.

#2 Time management
You won’t survive the fast pace deluge if you can’t manage your time in an effective manner. An EA needs to not only handle their own time well but also that of the Director you work for. That means coordinating their needs and often multiple people, in order to create a workable schedule that is in a constant state of flow and as urgent matters arise and priorities shift and maximize efficiency.

#Proactivity & Reliability
Showing initiative, proactivity and reliability are all vital to remain on top of your game as an Executive Assistant. Being proactive within the business is crucial as you have the opportunity to implement ways to make processes and procedures providing administrative stability and relentless attention to detail. Also to have the confidence to make decisions and adopt new ways of working that will support your Executive and the companies’ objectives and ultimately become the minute-by-minute problem-solver for them.

How has your role evolved over the last 5 years? Have there been opportunities for you to shape your position? 

As the business has developed sound confidence in my ability to manage my priorities effectively it has meant that I can now work on different areas of the business. Some of these more varied aspects including; Interior design, display suite fit-outs, furnishing and decorating of completed apartments, marketing collateral & PR support and the running of company events, to name a few. Being able to continuously learn and grow my knowledge has kept me challenged and engaged.

I also act as a mentor to new staff – ensuring new members thoroughly understand the brand, our goals and the team dynamics.

In 2015, when we first interviewed you, you said that ‘diary management’ was one of the hardest parts of your role as EA. Has that changed?

Last year was one of our busiest years which saw lots more interstate travel and being on the go non-stop, so it hasn’t changed in that aspect. I often joke that we need to clone Tim! In saying that we have become a lot better at managing what things are absolutely crucial and have implemented procedures to allow for some work-life balance.

Lastly, how have you seen the expectations shift over the last 5 years of an Executive Assistant. What are the core skills you see as being necessary today?

Resilience is definitely something that is required in today’s ever-changing fast pace environment. As an Executive Assistant you are constantly faced with changing and at times challenging situations this can be quite overwhelming. We have to rely on our self-confidence to bounce back quickly and tackle the next challenge.

Additionally, strategic Executive Assistants pay attention to clues in the Executive’s behaviour and shifts in temperament, because timing and judgment are the foundation of a smooth working relationship. Priorities and concerns change, and we have to be on top of these shifts all the time. We have to have the emotional maturity to manage distracted behaviours, the endurance capacity to sustain ourselves in environments where we may encounter an ever-changing rapid pace; conflicting instructions; behaviour that deters productivity; and, the demand for high levels of intelligence and superb response skills.

As an Executive Assistant you will often look at packed to-do lists and the management of your Directors as well and we have to have the ability to make a decision which tasks to tackle first when all of our work may be a priority with imminent deadlines. Due to the nature of our job we have to remain adaptable whilst handling multiple priorities so flexibility & adaptability are imperative to have.


The 3 biggest career trends for 2018

posted by Suzi Sarkis 20/11/2017 0 comments

Demographic changes and technological advancements may lead to the net loss of 5 million jobs by 2020, according to a report published by the World Economic Forum.

Just like trending hashtags, things are moving very quickly in the world of work these days.

So, what are the critical trends you need to watch out for in 2018?

#1 Changing Gears

As technological advancements continue to disrupt industries, there will be a growing need to be able to quickly come up to speed on new concepts to determine the impact on your business or remit. You’ll need to keep your brain razor sharp and flexible to be able to use the various ways of thinking, e.g. creative, mathematical, etc. to keep up with changes.

Cognitive flexibility is how quickly (and easily) you can swing, leap and twirl back and forth between different systems of thought. To make your mind more flexible you need to learn new things and stretch yourself to areas that you may not be so comfortable in, e.g. if you’re the creative type you may need to learn more about finance.

#2 Leading through transformation

Senior managers will be needed in industries across the board to lead companies through periods of transformations.

Industries like property, legal, marketing, etc that are ripe for disruption will also need a new type of senior manager to help companies navigate the rough waters of change.

This will include things like upskilling employees to develop new skills sets to deal with the change in their roles, understanding new laws and how to work with government regulators and increase how a company embraces new technology.

#3 Data is king!

The ability to analyse data is a skill that is touching almost every role. There is greater demand for data analysts and for people to be able to understand an translate data for commercial use. Critical thinking and the ability to solve complex problems are in demand. In a recent report released by the World Economic Forum, ‘More than one third (36%) of all jobs across all industries are expected by our respondents to require complex problem-solving as one of their core skills.’

Don’t panic! These skills aren’t necessarily something you’re born with or have a natural aptitude for. It’s something that gets honed over time and is built on a strong foundation of critical and lateral thinking.


Our tips on Resilience in the Workplace for EA’s

posted by Suzi Sarkis 14/11/2017 0 comments

#1 Industry Knowledge

Knowledge is about building your brain bank around your sector, it is about becoming an expert in your field.

  1. Read the financial review even if it’s one article a day. For me personally, this has made a huge impact in building my industry knowledge.
  2. Subscribe to one or two good sites that are in your sectors and try and get across the key topics, issues and people in your company’s sector.
  3. Reading books, I think learning particularly reading about business or a person that you can resonate with can be great, there are so many out there.

#2 Reading your Executives mind

In our experience EA’s are one of the most highly emotionally intelligent candidates, so use this with understanding your manager. Work out their character and be one step ahead, you will nd this is how you can be truly invaluable.

This could mean supporting them in how they want to communicate or understanding how they like digesting information. Are they analytical, visual, how do they like to process things?

#3 Strong networks in your industry

Building a robust network is an invaluable resource. It gives you the ability to gain; immediate feedback and advice, learning opportunities and exposure to other professionals.

  1. LinkedIn has become the staple tool for professionals to stay connected with each other in a low-impact manner. Your LinkedIn profile is critical to your personal brand.
  2. Attend events or networking groups within your sector. There are lots out there to get involved in. They should be in your sector and ideally in sync with your experience.

#4 Boosting up your skills

If you were to interview the most successful people in the world today, there is a common denominator: they say they are always learning.

  1. Read, Read, Read. Books are an incredible resource to open your mind and your soul.
  2. Do a short course online. There is a myriad of courses – both certified and not online. Do your research and a course that’s right for you.
  3. When you’re with other people, especially people with skills that you want to have, listen. Ask them about themselves, show your interest in them by listening to their dialogue and ask genuine and relevant questions.

#5 The ability to overcome challenges

Your ability to overcome challenges so that they don’t derail your day or your week is something every employer looks for. There is seldom a day where you won’t experience pressure in the professional world.

We have a saying a Brook and I believe this is true for everyone in business: keep moving forward. Focus on the positive, label your emotion, own it and then move on.

#6 Mentors: Have people around that inspire you

A mentor will give you access to a wealth of knowledge that you may not get access to in your job. A mentor can help elevate you from the daily grind and keep you focused on working toward your dream job.

For some people, they stumble upon a great mentor along their career, but for most people you need to find someone you respect and ask for their guidance. Take your time before you take up any of their time. Be clear about why you are engaging this mentor.

Finally, look at resilience and what it embodies. You need:

  • a Vision for your goals
  • to collaborate with your networks
  • to be composed, calm and in control
  • Tenacity, chutzpah and some bounce back
  • a good dose of reasoning and problem solving to anticipate and plan
  • And to live a healthy well-balanced life

Resilience also means to live your life without fear and reach further for your dreams and goals.


How to build rapport for the win

posted by Suzi Sarkis 08/10/2017 0 comments

A few years ago I worked with a large Professional Services organisation that was going through a global merger. There were a number of issues at play, and in an effort to mitigate some of the negative conversations that were being had the CMO made a statement to his global team to ‘assume the best intentions when working with each other’. While this was a lovely sentiment, good intentions are rarely assumed. If we’re honest with ourselves, people are often on the lookout for manipulative tactics.

The ability to build strong rapport with your colleagues is vital to your career progression and your happiness at work. Stepping into someone’s world authentically and actively listening can make it easier for someone to express themselves – allowing you to forge deep connections quickly.

There are many ways to build rapport. Here are two that have been suggested by Christine Comaford from Forbes:

  1. Physical Body Mirroring. By mirroring a person’s posture full body position you step into what it feels like to be them. So for example if someone is leaning back and has his arms crossed, you do the same. Always pause before mirroring so that changing your position isn’t rushed or abrasive.
  2. Keyword And Gesture Backtracking. Mirroring the words a person uses to describe their experience, and the gestures they use too furthers “same as.” If someone says, “I’d like to go the extra mile!”, while slicing the air with their hand—you can respond by gesturing similarly, and backtracking their keywords, “Yes! Let’s go the extra mile.”
tablet on desk

3 important things you need to know about attracting the best talent

posted by Suzi Sarkis 02/10/2017 0 comments

Companies are competing more than ever for top talent. When someone can work pretty much anywhere, what is it that will entice them to come work for you? Survey after survey finds that pay is actually low on employees’ lists when measuring what makes them most engaged at work. 

A Gallup poll from 2016 found that less than 40% of “fully engaged” employees would consider leaving their job even for a raise of 20%, and employees ranked money fifth on a list of six forms of recognition for their work.

So if it’s not money, then what does make employees engaged? Employees, and particularly millennials, are seeking a sense of purpose in their careers and an opportunity to do what they love.

So how can employers attract good people and keep them engaged? By empowering individuals, building teams and connecting them to a shared sense of purpose. Here are 3 approaches we’ve seen businesses adopting in the last year to attract and retain their staff.

1. “Millennials are very aware of the rate of change in our world and see the opportunity to work in large corporates as a way to pioneer that change at scale. Therefore, it’s vital that we create space in our organisations to allow them to experiment, take risks and pioneer,” Jeremy Basset, head of Unilever Foundry

2. Offer your employees an opportunity to collaborate with other people in the business and work on challenges that will have a direct impact on the business. “Within our business, we currently offer six-month secondments for junior staff to lead hackathons and build prototypes that are showcased in our Innovation Hub. We’ve found that employees relish the opportunity to manage these projects as this offers them a chance to think outside their traditional roles, learn new skills and work collaboratively with others from across Accenture,” says Nick Taylor, managing director at Accenture Digital.

3. Companies can distinguish themselves from competitors by creating an environment that is fast-paced and high-energy, without compromising people’s well-being. In fact, they can make a conscious effort to improve it.

Meditation isn’t just about the individual; it can also improve relationships. Making mindfulness part of your company identity sends a positive message to your team.

Today’s valuable employees feel like the values of the company are as important as its performance. In the end, that is often far more satisfying than take-home pay.



Frock-up this October!

posted by Suzi Sarkis 12/09/2017 0 comments

Brook Recruitment is proud to support the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation (OCRF) by spreading the message about the OCRF’s 2017 Frocktober campaign.

Throughout October, the Frocktober campaign invites women to band together and don their most darling dresses and have a bit of fun while raising funds for the OCRF.

Frocktober empowers women of all backgrounds, lifestyles and fabulous fashion senses to support a common cause: ovarian cancer research. It’s a chance to connect with like-minded women, share personal experiences, and play a pivotal role in the journey towards an early detection test for ovarian cancer. Frocktober is an opportunity to:

  • Celebrate your own style
  • Appreciate the joy in life and make the most of it
  • Contribute to an important cause affecting women

For a day, a week or the whole month, something as simple as the clothes you wear can start important conversations, raising awareness of the lack of early detection test and of how we as a community can do more to support ovarian cancer research.

A bit more about the OCRF

One woman dies every ten hours in Australia from ovarian cancer.

It’s a painful statistic and one we are working hard to change.

Each year, around 1500 Australian women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, making it the ninth most common form of cancer in the country. Without an effective early detection method, women who are diagnosed are faced with a huge challenge. Unlike breast and other more common cancers, ovarian cancer has a very poor survival rate. Currently, only around 20-25% of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the advanced stages survive beyond five years. The key goal of the OCRF is to develop and implement an early detection test for ovarian cancer. Because symptoms are often vague, or don’t present at all, an early detection method is the only reliable way to improve women’s chances of survival. With an early detection test, the chance of survival moves towards 90%.

How do i get involved?

You can now register as a Frocktober fundraiser for just $25 at This year the OCRF has exciting new support packs to help you with your fundraising efforts.

There is also the opportunity to upgrade to the Premium Frocktober Supporter pack for $65, which includes:

  • An exclusive Review Gift Card to the value of $50 for the first 500 registrations
  • Exclusive GO-TO Cosmetics for the first 500 registrations
  • Frocktober drink bottle

We look forward to following your Frocktober journey for 2017 on #Frocktober2017!

If you have any questions or fundraising ideas please do not hesitate to contact



The secret sauce to entrepreneurial success

posted by Suzi Sarkis 08/09/2017 0 comments

I recently watched a video interview from entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk. You know – that guy that has four New York Times books, serial entrepreneur and just all-round nice guy? Yup, him.

He was making comment on how fortunate he was to have come from nothing and had to work hard to get where he is, how being less-fortunate actually made him more fortunate and how no successful entrepreneur as ever gotten to where they are without having to do a sh*t tone of work.


So what makes Gary and other entrepreneurs successful? We’ve scoured the net to find you some of the best pieces of wisdom on offer. Hope you feel as inspired as we do.

Show up with some hussle

When Gary Vaynerchuk arrives at his Manhattan office at 8 a.m. There’s no slow ascent — no sipping coffee while scrolling through emails, no idle chitchat to forestall the onslaught of responsibility. (Entrepreneur). He is straight into meetings, interviews and workshops at his digital media agency, VaynerMedia.

Spot the next big shift and get there first

Easier said than done I know, but they critical key to the success of every well-known entrepreneur has been the ability to stay ahead of the curve and monopolise on the trend before too many people get there. “It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.” – Scott Belsky, co-founder of Behance.

Work, work, work

Guy Kawasaki, founder of AllTop once said “Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.” No truer words were ever spoken. Ariarna Huffington famously sent her second book to 36 publishers before it even got a nibble. “As the CEO, when you make the biggest commitment, work the hardest and run the fastest–your energy becomes contagious and everyone around you is inspired to double down and make it happen.” David Lucatch, Founder And Ceo Of Yappn Corp


Register for the Brook career hub to get exclusive content to cannonball your careerMORE