Heather Hillier’s Comeback from Redundancy

Waking up on the morning of 5th March 2020 my husband and I found our entire household income had ceased overnight. Our employer, the british regional airline flybe, had entered administration. Along with roughly 2500 of our colleagues across the UK we found ourselves redundant. That word – Redundant – is harsh and impactful.

When you have dedicated your life to a career, to be told everything you have worked hard to achieve and the loyalty you have given – gone – you literally feel the rug has been pulled from beneath you. Everyone’s experience of the next few weeks is unique and personal. You either feel compelled into action or totally lost and unsure where to turn. This is where my previous article – adjustment – fits in. It is recognised that it takes 2 weeks for you to absorb and adjust psychologically to major life events. This 2 weeks are a blur of activity or inactivity dependent on your own personal coping mechanisms.

Once the dust settled, I took a step back. Something that pilots have drummed into them is – in an emergency, sit on your hands! Essentially, don’t run at a problem like a bull in a china shop, pause and evaluate the situation, diagnose the problem, weigh up your options, take action, reassess that action, adjust your plan accordingly.

Feeling a little lost and unsure where to begin I turned to LinkedIn and found offers of support for flybe staff from a number of sources.

And then I found Simon Scantlebury – Executive Career Coach. I was sceptical. What could he tell me that I couldn’t figure out for myself? I decided to reach out to him, we had an introductory chat and he told me about his process – he would send me a questionnaire to complete, and one to send to friends/family/colleagues. Ok, I thought. I received the files, and did nothing. I was writing and rewriting my CV, I’d get round to this exercise at some point. Simon followed it up a week later – and I realised actually what had I got to lose. Armed with the feedback we had an in depth consultation – it was challenging and exhausting – but, I finished feeling motivated and focussed. THIS is why a good career coach is worth their weight in gold.

Over the following weeks Simon regularly kept in touch, encouraging me to stay focussed and motivated. He helped me channel my energies in fruitful directions. Armed with the CV we had worked on together and the self belief he had helped me find – I directly approached a recruiter who had previously sent me the dreaded ‘thanks but no thanks’. My phone rang 5 mins later – he was impressed by my approach and took the time to discuss some possible upcoming opportunities he thought I may be a fit for. This wouldn’t have happened without Simons coaching. I’m still the same person with the same skill set – but working with a career coach had helped me market myself effectively. We had drawn out all of the experience and skills that I considered as normal for ‘just a pilot’. Turns out that sometimes your normal is actually extraordinary and valuable, you just need someone to help take your blinkers off.

Simon regularly says that it is not job seeking – its job hunting, it is a hunt and you are the predator. You have to go out and make the opportunity, and be prepared to seize it when it shows itself. As with my experience with Andrew MacAskill – I am amazed more people are not making use of the resources these experienced professionals have to offer.

I hope that this article will help at least one person. Unemployment can feel incredibly lonely, frustrating and overwhelming – I hope this article helps to share that these feelings are normal. You are not alone. Support and guidance is out there – I encourage you to take the opportunities that present themselves – you never know where they may lead you.

Heather Hillier – Leadership & Development Manager