Dr Villiers’ Bio

Dr Ann Villiers is a leading expert in public sector staff selection and retention. Specialising in the sensemaking process, her approach stems from her combined business and public sector management experience, spanning more than 20 years, on both sides of the selection process.

Selecting staff, preparing a job application and performing well at interview are all exercises in sense-making and managing meaning. Selection panels must make sense of the job vacancy, the selection process and what applicants are offering. Applicants must make sense of the job vacancy, the organisation, the process and what they have to offer, both in writing and orally, plus the result of the process.

To perform well, both as an applicant and as a selection panel member, you need to think flexibly, build language practices for confident speaking and make quality connections throughout the selection process.

Author of How to Write and Talk to Selection Criteria, (6th edn.) Ann has presented at conferences and professional association meetings. She coaches individuals so they unlock their potential and grab the keys to greater job success.

Australia’s only Mental Nutritionist®, Dr Villiers is a learning guide and coach, professional speaker and author, specialising in mind and language practices that help people build flexible thinking, confident speaking and quality connections with people. You can learn more Mental Nutrition® at www.mentalnutrition.com.

Dr Ann Villiers pioneered the concept of Mental Nutrition® to capture the essentials of how we manage meaning and make sense of our encounters with people. Being mindful of our thinking and building skills in managing meaning are high-order capabilities vital for both applicants and selection panel members.


PhD, BA (Hons), Dip Ed. Graduate Certificate in Career Development

Certified trainer, Fellow Member CDAA, NLP Practitioner, a graduate of Professor Martin Seligman’s Positive Psychology program in Authentic Happiness. Achieved Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) status with National Speakers Association of Australia.


2019, Life Membership, Career Development Association of Australia

2015, President’s Award for Professional Leadership, Career Development Association of Australia

Professional memberships:

  • Fellow, Career Development Association of Australia

Conference and meeting presentations:

  • 2019, Integrating financial literacy via 25 ways to boost your income, CDAA National Conference, Canberra
  • 2018, Understanding the pitch approach to job applications and what this means for your career, Indigenous Career Management Workshop, Canberra
  • 2018, 25 ways to boost your income, CDAA ACT Spring Workshop, Canberra
  • 2018, Reflecting on career practitioners’ role in identifying values, CDAA ACT Private Practitioners Meeting, Canberra
  • 2018, Three factors to help you stand out from the crowd, Masterclass, Australian Institute of Office Professionals, Canberra
  • 2017, Career practitioners as sense makers: practical skills, uncomfortable questions, Keynote presentation, CDAA National Conference, Brisbane
  • 2017, How to write pitches for APS Jobs, CDAA National Conference, Brisbane
  • 2017, How to write pitches for APS jobs, CDAA ACT
  • 2015, How to write and sell ebooks that support clients and grow your business, 50 ways to present, train and emcee with elegance, poise and engagement, CDAA Tasmania
  • 2015, 50 ways to present, train and emcee with elegance, poise and engagement, CDAA ACT
  • 2015, Essential know-how for public speakers, Webinar, CDAA
  • 2015, 50 Ways to present, train and emcee with elegance, poise and engagement, CDAA National Conference, Perth
  • 2014, Practitioner business models: Stories of change, CDAA National Conference, Adelaide
  • 2014, Contributor to Get into the ‘Write’ mind: How to successfully contribute to the ACP magazine and improve your practitioner profile, CDAA National Conference, Adelaide
  • 2013, How to write and sell ebooks that support clients and grow your business, ACT Division, CDAA, Canberra
  • 2013, How to write and sell ebooks that support clients and grow your business, CDAA National Conference, Sydney
  • 2013, Three tools to capture clients’ strengths, NCDA National Conference, Boston, Mass. USA
  • 2012, Co emcee, CDAA National Conference, Canberra
  • 2011, Three tools to capture clients’ strengths, CDAA International Conference, Cairns
  • 2010, Five selection criteria rresponse strategies to help clients make a difference, National Career Conference, CDAA,  Adelaide
  • 2010, Managing transitions in a professional speaking career, National Convention, National Speakers Association of Australia, April, Gold Coast
  • 2009, Forum Moderator, AIM Your Career forums, Australian Institute of Management
  • 2009, Preparing a job application, Career Development Week, ACT Library
  • 2009, Forum Moderator, Career development coaching, ACT Division CDAA
  • 2008, Forum Moderator, AIM Your Career forums, Australian Institute of Management
  • 2005, Australian Health Promotion Association, 15th National Conference, Building better thinking skills to foster wellbeing
  • 2004, National Speakers Association of Australia, 14th National Convention, Boosting your Business Courage
  • 2003, Nursing Leadership – cutting to the core Conference, Nursing Leaders as Sense-Makers

Leadership roles:

  • Chair, Public Affairs Committee, Career Development Association of Australia, 2013 – 2015
  • National Executive Committee, Career Development Association of Australia,  2012 – 2015
  • Secretary, Career Development Association of Australia, ACT Division, 2012
  • President, Career Development Association of Australia, ACT Division, 2010-2012
  • Executive Committee, Career Development Association Australia of Australia, ACT Division, 2008-2009
  • HR Committee, YWCA of Canberra, 2009 – 2011
  • President, ACT Chamber of Women in Business, 2004-06
  • Board member and Finance Committee member, YWCA of Canberra, 2002-04



  • How to Write and Talk to Selection Criteria (6th edn.)
  • Gorgeous Daring Dames, How to grow in confidence, clarity & commitment


  •  Grandparents’ guide to career learning for kids
  • Hate boring conferences? Turn your draft conference proposal into a must-have, must-attend drawcard
  • How to apply for APS Graduate Programs
  • How to write and talk to selection criteria (6th edn.)
  • Job statements and expressions of interest made easy: How to write quality suitability statements
  • Informational Interviewing: How to interview people to inform career decisions
  • A Manager’s Guide to Career Conversations
  • Winning Performance at Job Interviews
  • 101 Ways to erode trust in public sector recruiting
  • Tips from career practitioners, in collaboration with the Career Development Association of Australia

Audio MP3s

  • A Six Pack on Selling Yourself
  • 101 Interview Questions


Communities deserve the certainty of strong climate transition plans, February 3, 2020, The Canberra Times

Why we should stop using ‘soft’ skills, Career Convergence Web Magazine, National Career Development Association (USA), 1 February 2020

Partisan views on everything have ruined the ability to have a serious conversation, January 10, 2020, The Canberra Times

Ditching ‘the pitch’ may improve APS recruitment, Public Sector Informant, April 2019, The Canberra Times

Time to dump ‘soft’ skills, Australian Career Practitioner, Summer 2018

Are public servant job applicants now their own selection panel? Public Sector Informant, March 2018, The Canberra Times

Hold off the celebrations: gender equality ‘progress’ is not ‘success’, Public Sector Informant, April 2017, The Canberra Times

Why photos fail the ‘You’re on before you’re on’ test, Australian Career Practitioner, Vol 27, Issue 4, Summer 2016

The ‘Integrated Leadership System’ has no place in government recruitment, The Public Sector Informant, February 2016, The Canberra Times

How to read an online job advertisement, How to write a suitability statement, 10 ways to reduce words in job applications, My Future

Re-imagining public service recruitment in a future without selection criteria, The Public Sector Informant, October 2015, The Canberra Times

Public service job interview questions that star-struck panels need to ditch, The Public Sector Informant, August 2015, The Canberra Times

Shining a light on occupational inter-relationships, Australian Policy Online, June 2015

Career practitioners as sense makers, Australian Career Practitioner, Vol 26, 2, Winter 2015, pp. 15-17

Elusive treasure: a useful public service job description, Public Sector Informant, October 2014, The Canberra Times

25 Reasons to belong to CDAA, Australian Career Practitioner, Vol. 25, 2, Winter 2014, p. 5

Waiting politely outside power’s closed doors, Public Sector Informant, March 2014, The Canberra Times

Practice issues using strengths tools, Australian Career Practitioner, vol. 24, 4, Summer 2013, pp. 8-9

Time to rethink recruitment’s pointless hoops, Public Sector Informant, March 2013, The Canberra Times

Recruitment’s sacred cows remain unchallenged in ‘best practice’ advice, Public Sector Informant, August 2012, The Canberra Times

Career Matters: Seeing the world through new eyes, Baby Boomer Magazine, Spring, 2012

Prepare for the never-ending workplace farewell, Public Sector Informant, April, 2012, The Canberra Times

Career Matters: What will you do? Baby Boomer Magazine, Autumn, 2012

Career Matters: The Art of Ageing, Baby Boomer Magazine, Summer 2011/12

Writing as CDAA ACT President, ‘Invest in career education: it pays off for everyone’. The Canberra Times, 2 August 2011

Career Matters:What is your retirement song? Baby Boomer Magazine, Spring 2011

Budget cuts prompt career decisions, Public Sector Informant, May 2011, The Canberra Times

Keep good staff by training their bosses, Public Sector Informant, February 2011, The Canberra Tmes

The muddled thinking that muddies merit, Public Sector Informant, August 2010, The Canberra Times

Selection criteria that send recruits running, Public Sector Informant, July 2010, The Canberra Times

How to use capability frameworks, Australian Career Practitioner, Vol 20, Issue 4, Summer 2009, p. 6

How to structure responses to selection criteria, Australian Career Practitioner, Vol 20, Issue 3, Spring 2009, p. 6

What is an expression of interest? Australian Career Practitioner, Vol. 20, Issue 1, Autumn 2009, p. 10

Haven’t found what you’re looking for? The Public Sector Informant,  (The Canberra Times) June 2008

Snooping around Flynn’s legacy, National Library of Australia News, May 2008

Flynn’s photos, Australian Geographic, Apr-June 2008, p. 16-17

How to erode trust in selection on merit, The Public Sector Informant, October 2006, p. 25, The Canberra Times

How to be a savvy board member, Working Women, Autumn 2005, p. 19

Nursing leaders as sense-makers, Nursing Review, January 2004, p. 5

How sense-making impacts your business, Work from Home, December 2003, Pp 18-19

Communicating myths cost us dearly, Management Today, November/December 2000, pp.6-7