Transcript #29. How to deal with losing your job in 2020 - with Career Money Life Co-Founder Sandy Hutchison (COVID SERIES)

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Renata: Hello and welcome to the job hunting podcast. I'm your host Renata Bernarde. I'm a virtual career coach, job hunting expert and a career strategist. I am here to support professionals in the corporate sector, not for profit and public sectors, to have the careers that they want. To job hunt with is and not feel stressed or overwhelmed when they are in between jobs and looking to advance in their careers. If you are an ambitious professional and you're keen to have a robust career plan above and beyond covid 19 pandemic, this is the podcast for you. We will be addressing covid 19 many times, but we're also long-term thinkers and these episodes and these interviews should be listened to. Whenever you access this podcast, they're not time sensitive in any way. I hope that you enjoy this interview with Sandy Hutchison. In addition to the job hunting podcast, I have created a series of tools and resources that I have given for free for my followers and to access them. 

Renata: The best way is to sign up for the researcher career community. This means that I will be able to let you know whenever there is a free resource and I can send it directly to you. I will send you a weekly newsletter with the job hunting podcast, the new episode and I will keep you in the loop about everything that's going on. So if you look at the show notes and go to my website, you will find the link. Give me your an email. I will not share it with anyone. It's just so that we start this relationship with this conversation and I can help you with your career. So just to give you an idea about what I do, I have the job hunting podcast, but I also have a weekly live coaching session that I do on Facebook every week on Thursdays. And then I record it and it's available on YouTube. 

Renata: And also on my website I have an online course called the Job Hunting Made Simple course. You can register your interest at the moment and it will be available again a couple of weeks if you want to register. And of course I have my private clients, which I coach ongoing. So have a look at my website. If you go to my website, you can also see all the links to my social media channels and you can follow me wherever you feel more comfortable or you enjoy doing your social media catch ups so let's keep in touch. Okay. And I don't know where you found this podcast, but it is available on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, Google, and of course on my website. So wherever you found this, don't forget to subscribe. 

Renata: Sandy Hutchinson is the CEO and founder of Career Money Life. Now my company is a certified provider of Career Money Life, which is fantastic because there are not many ways that career coaching and the services that I do can be certified in any other way. What it means is that I have gone through a very sort of thorough review and audit of all of the things that I do and, have been approved to be on the digital platform together with other service providers. And this has completely pivoted the way that professional development and outplacement to, employees made redundant, have been done forever and ever. It gives the employees a lot of freedom and independence to choose how they want and with whom they want to invest, their benefits and how they want to progress with their careers. So for example, they can choose my services and they can see my benefits there and they can compare and contrast that with other service providers on that platform.

Renata: And if they want career coaching, they can of course choose me or other career coaches on the platform or they can decide that they'd rather do business coaching or see a financial advisor. So it's really up to the employees and the former employees made redundant to pick and choose whatever they want. I love this philosophy in this idea of giving more power to the employees and to professionals. If you've been following this podcast, you would know that. So I see Sandy as a trailblazer and somebody that has come before me in this space and Sandy was one of the first people that I reached out to when I was developing my ideas for this project, you know, the project being the podcast and my services and the online course. And she gave me some valuable advice and she's a great mentor and great supporter. So I'm definitely, I'm very keen for you to listen to this interview and I hope you enjoy it. 

Renata: So we will be talking about redundancies, redundancies, you know, her redundancy, my redundancy before covid 19 and how are they being done now? I mean it's such a completely different space. And I was really keen to ask Sandy questions about redundancies during covid 19 and then we move on to talk about options for those that have been made redundant. How to invest their time and money in, in what they should be investing their time and money. I hope that you find this valuable and, hope that you also keep in touch and listen to past and future episodes of the job hunting podcast. Enjoy the interview ciao for now. 

Renata: So tell me a little bit about how you came to have the career that you have and founded Career money life. 

Sandy: Okay. Well thanks. Nice to meet you. Renata. So I'd love to say I was one of those people that had like a really strategic plan and everything had been, you know, on a 20 year plan in terms of my career. But it's not like that at all. You know, I'm originally from Canada. I've moved here like 24 years ago because I've met an Aussie and came for personal reasons, but you know, I had studied philosophy and political science and I worked in politics and I worked in government in Canada. And so when I came to Australia I kind of had to start all over again. I didn't know anyone other than my husband. I had to in my thirties. I had to like rebuild and redefine myself. 

Sandy: And, I ended up working in the private sector in consulting and the work I'd done in government related to privatising the air traffic control system in Canada. So it was a huge project, lots of complex HR and people issues. And I'd come from a background in communications and media, and found myself sort of working in the employee space at Mercer, which is ironically a Canadian company originally. But started working around employee engagement career. I started transition and organisational change and ended up spending, I arrived here and got the job within six weeks and spent 16 years at Mercer and Marsh McLennan the parent company, so taking on lots of different roles. It became a partner, was the youngest partner, the first female partner, first partner to go on parental leave to work part time. 

Sandy: So in those days, quite a trailblazer on a lot of fronts ended up working for the parent company and taking on different roles in business development and then, moved in house to, the HRD role for Asia Pacific for Marsh McLennan. And then things shifted structurally and change of global CEO. And I found myself being made redundant, which was an interesting experience in its own right. 

Renata: Yes, no, I remember that. That makes so much sense because I also remember the way that we met was because you used to run a women in leadership series at Mercer and back then, it sounds so normal now, but back then no one did that. And it was lovely. And I remember us flocking into the old office that Mercer used to have, what was that exhibit? And that was fantastic. And that was also, I don't know if you remember this, but that's when I realised how different women are because you would get a wonderful speaker and she would, you know, say how I experience was, and then somebody on the floor was like, but I don't have any kids or, you know, I have five kids, you know, that's so different from me. So, we realised that just because we were all women, we were quite different. I don't know if you remembered that, but that was like, yeah, a very special moment for me. And I stopped putting all the eggs in one basket after that. Okay, so you were made redundant. What next? What did you do next?

Sandy: Well, it was a really interesting process for me because, you know, I had been kind of on a sort of fast track, you know, I was on the succession plan for the CEO and all of these things. And so you have this sort of frame about your career and what you're capable of and then all of a sudden somebody tells you something different. And it's, it's really hard not to internalise that and not to, you know, kind of fundamentally undermine your self-belief, your confidence. It's like who am I if I don't have a business card that says I'm in this role and, and am I still a valuable person and how do I introduce myself to people? And there's a lot of, you know, really raw emotions that you need to work through when you get made redundant. And I think, you know, regardless of who you are, they're saying most people are going to go through that at least two or three times. You know, at the moment it's, it's everyone's going through it. So I think it's been completely normalised now. 

Sandy: But I guess through that process, I started to take a little bit of time out. I had young kids, I've been working full on Asia PAC role, travelling extensively. And over that period of time, I guess I got a chance to really think about what mattered to me and what I loved about my jobs and the work I had done. And you know, it really came back to me about impacting on people and individuals and affecting change in people's lives. And I just saw that the career transition space was one of those areas where the model was still kind of stuck in 1984 binders, you know, bad offices, men in bad suits kind of. And the world had moved on so much since then. So I came up with this idea of creating a model of career transition that was actually centred around the employee and enabling them. 

Sandy: And you know, a lot of the research I did in terms of understanding and building the business, you know, showed from a psychological point of view, giving people choice regardless of actually what the choices are. But just the mere idea of giving people choice fundamentally is a positive thing for their mental health. It makes them feel in control again and it makes them feel like they're competent. And so that was really the premise behind the whole platform of Career money life was to enable people to make their own choices about what services they want and how to use those, that sort of value of the credit that's been provided by the company. So I started very slowly sort of thinking, wow, this is an idea and should I actually build a business and how do I go about doing that? And you know, talk to lots and lots and lots of people. 

Sandy: On the HR side, the employee side, the supplier side. And that was fundamentally so important in terms of kind of designing and building what we ended up building, because we had all of that input early on. And so we've been running now for five years. We have over 60 clients where we're profitable, our biggest client is Virgin and we're working really closely with them, trying to help as much as we can at the moment. So, you know, I kind of feel like I've never been able to sit back and draw a breath and go, wow, we've done it. But, you know, it is nice to sort of hit a few of those milestones along the way. And, but what really drives me and which I'm I guess living and breathing every day at the moment is being able to support and help people through what is usually one of the most difficult times of their life.

Renata: Yes, I agree. I agree. And it seems like, that your redundancy was sprung on you or were you prepared over a few, few months that was surprised? 

Sandy: Look, there was a change of, my boss who I had a fantastic relationship with left and, and somebody else came into the role. They, it wasn't so much a personality thing, they just had a different idea about structure. And, and so it was, there in New York, I was here, they called me for our regular catch-up. I remember it was actually on my son's birthday at like seven in the morning. And, you know, and she did a great job for what she had to do. And, and like I, I didn't blame her or any of those things, but you know, that moment still sticks with you. And I think that's really important for HR and managers to know that, you know, each time you're having that conversation with someone, it will, it will be something they remember and they remember how you treated them and how they felt and, you know, that can really make a difference if there's respect and dignity there. 

Renata: Yeah, no, that's what I was trying to figure out because what I have, I don't know and I want to know from you what you were experiencing is that this covered 19 situation may have been such a surprise to business that I'm not sure if they have been taking the time to do this properly. And you had, you know, a good, somewhat good experience in the case that it was done the proper way. Same with me. It was a surprise for me. I wasn't expecting to be made redundant, but my boss did it the best possible way. I had full control of how the communication was going to be made. I had the best possible, you know, exit out of the organisation. I chose, you know, how to exit. It was really well designed and, in a very caring way. I'm not sure that this is possible now, what are you seeing in the market? I mean, you're on the thick of it, supporting organisations that are making their employees redundant. What's different now?

Sandy: Look, I think a couple of things and you know, these are kind of drivers of when you're looking at change management models, two of the factors that really influence change or the scale and the pace. And what we're experiencing right now is the pace of change is happening, and the scale of change is happening in a way that it hasn't happened before. So for many organisations, they're laying off more people than they maybe ever have in their whole history in a matter of days or weeks, or completely shutting down parts of their business that will probably never reopen. And so there's so much more complexity in that is some ways kind of, ironically there's, there's almost this I guess safety in numbers. So if I'm made redundant, maybe that's about me. But if everyone in my team or company or department is made redundant because of covid 19 and it's clearly not about me, it's about a wider set of circumstances. So I think from an individual point of view, it maybe is a bit easier to process in some ways. 

Sandy: In terms of your own self-worth. But, from an organisational point of view, the complexity of trying to navigate individual needs and caring for people, while managing at scale, it's a real tension. And I really feel for HR teams right now, they are absolutely at the pointy end of all of this. You know, trying to lay people off and manage the job keeper and manage working from home and manage, you know, client's needs and have pretty much all been told to not spend a cent. And, you know, it is a very tough time for our HR community right now.

Renata: It is, it is. And I think that we, because we know now about the mental health issues and, how empathetic and caring we need to be, it's very different from the eighties. I don't know if I'm old enough to remember. Right. And I think you probably remember as well, and I was young, but I remember my dad as a manager of people making others redundant, how much he struggled with that and how that impacted his well being. And my dad went through months of being quite unhappy and feeling really down, because of what he had to do to keep the businesses going. So he was in telecommunications at a time when things used to go up and down and there would, I remember there were times when he had to make 400 people redundant in one day. And that was really troubling for him. And especially in a country like Brazil, where I'm from, where there's no safety net. We know better now and governments know better as well. So there are a lot of incentives for businesses to keep workers if they can. Are you seeing that happening? Is it how are businesses coping between keeping them on job keepers versus, restructuring and laying off completely? 

Sandy: Look, it's a really complex dynamic. So you've, you know, I was, I was speaking with a friend who has a 17 year old that works a casual shift and her daughter is eligible and is getting $1,500. And she does one shift that you've got. 

Renata: Same with my son. My son is doing zero shifts and getting $1,500 because he works for the Rod Laver Arena. And Etihad, they're closed. So he's getting job keepers. 

Sandy: So, you know, kids still living at home. So, and then you've got, you know, other organisations where there's real confusion about the number of hours and, you know, people are saying, well, if you're getting paid this much then you need to work this much. But they say, but I only worked one shift a week. So why should says, I think there's a lot of confusion. I mean I understand the programme was put in place really quickly and it's kind of, you know, it's the 80, 20 rule. But, I think that that's created some challenges because sometimes people feel like maybe they'd be better off on job seeker than job keeper and you know, different things. But look, I think what I've seen is organisations kind of went through this shock phase where it was like, Oh my God, you know, what is happening? And then thinking, how do we function? Moving people to work from home, looking for government support. And I think as that started to flow through and people have understood the complexity behind that, they're now at the point, I'm seeing a lot of companies making decisions saying, you know, the financial year end is coming. 

Sandy: Our projections for the next six to 12 months are not what they used to be. So even if we get through job keeper and things come back, they're not going to come back the way they were. And so we need to make some cuts now. So I'm starting to see a lot more redundancies happening in organisations at this time. And I think that will carry through, you know, I think there has been some of that, you know, trying to have people reduce hours, reduced salary and many companies have put those practises in place. Having people take leave, move forward, move to part time hours. So all of that's happening. But I think, you know, it really depends on the business and their economics, but I think there is still a need, sadly for many organisations to make the tough call to let people go. 

Renata: Yes. So it was going to be my next question. So I really want to, you kind of answered it, but I wanted to get a feel for you. Do you foresee, in Australia, more redundancies as a domino effect in the coming months? 

Sandy: Yeah, sadly. 

Renata: Yeah, that me too. And do you think, comparing, I mean you're from Canada, I'm assuming that you're keeping a finger on the most of other countries as well. It's very interesting how similar countries in terms of being developed, developed countries are kind of going very indifferent directions for the first time. Like it seems like they're going in completely different directions because of the policy levers that they're taking. Right. So do you think that Australia will be better off or worse off like, compared to a country like Canada for example? That's a complex system because Australia is such a service economy that if other countries don't do well, I'm not sure that we can do well. 

Sandy: That's exactly it. So I think in terms of the public policy and the health settings, Australia, you know, we're so lucky to be here. The lucky country, like, you know, often Canada and Australia are very similar on, you know, most economic indicators and things. But because of the proximity of the U S I mean Canada's sitting at over 60,000 cases and over 3000 deaths and still spiking, you know, where we've got so much lower. So I think in terms of the impact on the healthcare systems, we're better off. But the challenge will be, you know, Australia is hugely reliant on tourism. No one's going to be travelling to Australia. We're also hugely relying, as you know, on international students, a huge part of our economy. Those students aren't going to be coming either, you know, our export markets are going to be impacted because those countries won't be, building buildings and using steel and doing all the things they do. 

Sandy: And the service economy is also going to be impacted. And, and you know, there's a lot of organisations here that are, you know, part of multinational companies. So with the parent company in the U S or Canada or Europe has badly impacted, you know, they're not going to have the budgets to be investing in growing the businesses here. So I think, you know, there's going to be a long period of , kind of transitioning to a new new, and I think the idea that we'll just turn the switch and go back to the way things were isn't going to happen. I think it will be a tougher job market. You know, that was on the cards even before covid 19, the economic indicators were suggesting that we were heading into a slower growth period. The future of work automation in the workplace. 

Sandy: And I think what we're seeing is organisations being forced to pivot and say, okay, well how are we going to do things more effectively, more, you know, technologically based. And so all the AI and bots and all the stuff that was kind of in the plans, people have had to go, right, let's start making this happen now. So I think that's actually going to potentially escalate some of those job losses that were going to happen anyway. So there's a real period where there's going to be a lot of shifting and changing in terms of what jobs are available. And I think what that means for the job seeker is the importance of reskilling and upskilling and doing that in the areas where there's going to be demand.

Renata: Yes. So what are you seeing from, having this platform and having so many professionals in between jobs using the platform? What are people interested in right now? What are they doing? Or do you have recommendations, you know, as an experienced expert in this area of what people should be doing when there's so much uncertainty? 

Sandy: So there's kind of, I guess a few levels to it. So there's the, if you're thinking Maslow, there's kind of the base stuff. So I need a resume. I haven't been in the job market in 20 years. I don't even have a LinkedIn profile or I have one, but there's got very little content in it. So it's that kind of hygiene factor I need to get, you know, job search ready. And so helping people with that, so understanding, you know, nowadays, you know, we were saying on our social media, boring is the new sexy when it comes to CVs. So all the fancy fonts and images and your pictures and tables are all gone because you put that through an applicant tracking system and forget it. You're spread out the other end. It can't read it. So, you know, for a lot of people that's like revolutionary. 

Sandy: They have no idea that's how the game works. I'm understanding that you might have to do a video interview where there's not actually even another person on the other end of it. There's just a set of pre-set questions that you need to record and send in. So how do I learn to use zoom? How do I learn to do a video interview? This is all completely new to me. Like there's all that kind of basic stuff that people are scrambling to get their hands around and understand. And so we're offering with some of our big clients, we do regular daily webinars and you know, they're very well subscribed on all of those things. Job search, networking, LinkedIn, to help them understand all that. And then there's kind of the next level, which is kind of the bigger question. So you know, who am I and am I just going to go back to my, my old job or am I going to use this time to retrain and do something different and what skills do I have and how do I take those skills and transfer them?

Sandy: And so that deeper thinking piece, and you know, we're seeing that with the pilots right now from Virgin for example, you know, some of them just want to hang tight until they can come back. Others are saying maybe, you know, maybe it's time for me to get out and re-skill and move into something else. So what does that look like? And so in terms of the services that then support that, you know, we partner with a lot of organisations like AIM and other education providers like general assembly and different things. So we're saying the skills piece is really important and we do recommend that for people. So what we say is, you know, even if you say you've been working in project management but you don't have any credentials, so consolidate that experience by taking a course and getting a credential. 

Sandy: So when you go for the next job in project management, it's not just I have experienced, it's, I've undertaken a course while I was on my, you know, job search phase to consolidate my learning and to have that credentialed formally. So I've got this skillset, this experience, but I've also got this credential and that can just be the thing that edges you into the yes pile rather than the maybe pile. Because they, it's showing you're proactive, you're taking initiative. You’re committing to your career and to your personal development. You have a growth mindset. All of those things are really important. So I think it's important that people think about that, but not just any random course. It's, you need to be strategic about what's going to make sense for your career. So those are the things we're seeing, you know, a lot of the coaching people really value right now, some career coaching and getting that support. And then there's kind of a mix of things where, you know, some people are getting some help with their financials because they're really not sure. They've got a redundancy payment. Do I pay off the mortgage? Do I, what do I do with it? You know, should I take money out of super that whole side of it as well and their wellbeing. So yeah. Have you doing some yoga? 

Renata: There's so much to do. It is a lot to do, but it's, it's really important. So we interviewed two guests previously on this podcast. One was Alistair Freeman who wrote a very great post on LinkedIn that went viral about his experience leaving NAB, having been made redundant. And you know, how the market understood or misunderstood him and how he didn't manage to find a job in the not-for-profit sector in regional New South Wales. So he was Melbourne based and that was the episode we called it a positive redundancy because he was so philosophical about it. I mean he did go through some tough experiences with recruiters and so on, but ultimately he did exactly what you said, you know, took the time to think about what he actually could do with that opportunity. And he saw it as an opportunity and like, what do I need to be in Melbourne?

Renata: And I think more now than ever, especially with remote work as an opportunity and a bargaining opportunity for future work, you could actually consider moving somewhere else. And we also interviewed Paul Burrows who left BHB as a very senior exec and realised that he had always loved finance as in his personal finance to reskill and then worked in banking for many years and is now retired. But we always like it in the podcast to give those opportunities. What do you think is the difference between somebody that's made redundant in their thirties versus somebody that's made redundant, let's say in their mid-fifties? Have you noticed or do you have any advice that's different between one and the other?

Sandy: Yeah, look I think the emotional context is quite similar and it's not necessarily age related. It's kind of more about the individual. But I think some of the differences that we're seeing is people in their thirties are early to mid-career. They maybe haven't had as long in one area of specialisation. So there's still I think a lot more flexibility to perhaps, you know, pivot or transition into different areas. Also they haven't been away from school that long that the prospect of going back to study is so daunting and so foreign. I think for people that are 55 plus, you know, that some of those things are a bit more, bit scary, to imagine. Also often, you know, they're in a position where financially they built a lifestyle around probably a higher income. 

Sandy: And at that stage of their career than a 30 year old, they have potentially children and school fees and mortgages and other obligations. So sometimes those pressures around being able to look after your family and, you know, provide and meet those financial needs are a lot greater. And so the stress on that group of people can be much greater about. And frankly, sadly there is still a lot of age discrimination. So, you know, some of the things we remind people about is, you know, I'm not putting, when they went to high school now, if they've been out of university for over more than 15 years, don't put the years you graduated. You know, you don't have to include every job you've ever had. So leave off the early ones. Don't let them know how old you are because you know, we know there's a lot of that discrimination out there. So, you know, use what you can. But I think too, at that age group, there's also sometimes more financial security. And so sometimes people are then in a position they can take some risks and you know, we're seeing a lot of kind of that entrepreneurial activity happening amongst that group where they're in a position to say, you know, I've always wanted to start a business doing this or that and they're in a position to do those things. So there's kind of some swings and roundabouts but different heads. 

Renata: That’s an interesting point. I think that you had this opportunity to have your own business. And I guess you have to go through certain things in life to enable you to actually have the financial security and the time even to enable a business to flourish. I have been asked, should I open a business now? And normally it is a consideration when you're a career coach and somebody is made redundant and has, you know, a savings and, and the redundancy package to play with and to consider opening a business. What would you say to somebody who is seeking to open a business in this current environment? Because it's kind of a risky environment to open a business. Right? And so I've been asking people to think many times before taking that route. 


Sandy: Yeah, look, I think you know, obviously it depends on what the business model is and what the services are and whether there's something that are going to be in demand. But at the same time, you know, you don't want to set up a business for a service that's going to be in demand for a short period of time and, and you know, it's just a bubble and then, and then, you know, you haven't thought about the long-term. So, my advice would be that if people are going to do that, they need to take this you know, incredibly seriously. I think people get excited about the logo and the, you know, the ideas and, you know, not the boring stuff. Like, actually building a cash, cash flow projection and building a detailed business plan and you know, putting those numbers together and then cutting them in half and then taking that to five people you know, that are super cynical and get them to review it and then go out and talk to a whole bunch of people to find out if they would actually buy this product.

Sandy: Is there a need for this product or this service? Who else is doing it? I'm amazed at how often people run off because they've come up with a good idea and start to build a business without doing any of that research to only find out, Oh, actually, you know, three companies already do this and they're, you know, three years ahead of you. And you know, I don't want to be discouraging. I've done it by myself, but I did spend a long time researching first and you know, I, I think you need to be super, super careful. Particularly, you know, if you're using your, your personal money, your family money or friends to set this up, you know, it's a big step. And you need to be careful so you can, you know, you can do it as a sidekick.

Sandy: You can have another job. You can slowly build up, you know, your confidence that what you're doing is working, you know, try and get one client that will partner with you and you know, even if you're doing it for free for them, you know, make sure this is a viable product, make sure it's going to work. 

Renata: That's great advice. Sandy, do you have any final words of wisdom for the podcast listeners there? 

Sandy: I don't know about words of wisdom. It is absolutely, you know, the most kind of unprecedented, my know that word's been so overused, but it is unprecedented times right now for job seekers. Hang in there, do what you need to do to get through. You know, we've recommended people, there's a whole lot of ideas around short term cash.

Sandy: So you know, whether it's volunteering for medical studies or Uber driving or you know, talent agencies or selling stuff on eBay. Like, you know, if you need to manage your cash and do things to get by while you look for your dream job, that's okay right now. And everybody understands that. The other thing I would say is just get out. I know you can't be physically out, but get out on LinkedIn, contribute, build your network right now. If you can't find a job right now, think about in three or four months’ time when I start a job, what are all those things I would have liked to have done in my life? You know, so if there's things I want to learn or things I want to experience or people I want to reconnect with, you know, make sure you're doing those things. So you're doing things that add value. Just spending day after day, kind of on the job boards and searching is going to be a bit soul destroying. So be kind to yourself. 

Renata: That's good advice. Thank you so much, Sandy. Thanks for your time. 

Sandy: Oh, absolutely. My pleasure Renata, thank you for the opportunity.

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