I didn't know what I didn't know.

(And other insights from a client* who recently completed the Huddle Gold Programme.)

by Lisa Vermaak

Director of Operations at Huddle



I didn’t know what I didn’t know. (And other insights from a client* who recently completed the Huddle Gold Programme.)



Can you tell me a little bit about your career and how you found yourself at this crossroads? 

When you’ve had over three decades in the advertising and marketing game, you think you know just about anything about everything.

But when I found myself back in Sydney with no job after a large piece of business left the agency almost as soon as I started in my new role. I began my search and suddenly doors start to close and I found myself on the scrap heap still with another good 20 years left in the tank. I had no idea where to go next. 

I thought I had a pretty good network but one suddenly realises that when you don't have the big title, people stop returning your calls and emails.  I also contacted recruiters and quickly realised I had the same problem – when I can’t be of help to them, they aren’t that interested in my story. I sent off countless job applications for jobs I was qualified for and ones I wasn’t. I called companies and tried to talk to them directly, but I just wasn’t hearing back from anyone except the odd automated reply telling me they had someone more suitable except I was perfectly suitable. It was soul destroying and I wasn't sure exactly what the problem was.

How were you feeling by this stage?

Despondent. After knock back after knock back, I became incredibly frustrated and confused. I couldn't understand why I wasn't even getting a nibble for jobs I was completely qualified for. I also didn't know what I wanted to do with the next twenty years of my life and how I was going to figure it out.  

Why did you contact Huddle? 

After reading about their programme, I realised I couldn’t continue to do the same thing I had been doing for the past eight months with no result. What I was doing was just not working and there’s nowhere to turn to get specific help. Eventually an inner voice said, “Give them a go, what have you got to lose?”

What was your initial reaction to Huddle’s approach?

I was stunned with how simple, yet highly effective their program was in steering me in the right direction. I thought I was more than capable of doing what they offered myself but after my first session with Andrew, their executive coach, I quickly realised how much I didn’t know what I didn’t know. How despite spending decades repositioning and repackaging brands for global companies, I could not look at myself objectively and dispassionately and do it for myself.

 What was the single most important thing Andrew, The Transition Coach helped you with? 

Andrew’s process was rock solid in helping me focus on a new career pathway using my existing skill set. There was no “retraining”, but simply trusting that the Huddle process would get me going again. He identified and legitimised strengths in areas that I had experience and interest in that had long been dormant but that I thought I wasn’t really qualified in. This pointed me in a direction I had thought was out of my reach.

How do you feel about how The Huddle team rebranded your career profile?

Catriona’s overhaul of my resume and LinkedIn profile was light years ahead of my previous ones. My new resume has effectively repositioned me away from my past. She understood exactly what was important in my existing experience and how to communicate it in a way I may never have had the confidence to. In fact, what I now realise is that she saw me in a way I could never see myself.

After the Huddle Programme do you feel differently about personal branding?

Just reorganising my wardrobe has pulled me back into the contemporary world without having to buy a single garment. Kim’s sage styling advice in the comfort of my home, gave my depleted confidence a massive boost and reminded me that how and what we communicate is more than just verbal. It was the area I didn’t think needed attention and I realise how important it actually is.

What else were you surprised about?

How poorly I was treating my body (little wonder I was so down in the dumps). Huddle’s health coach soon had me looking at areas of my life like sleep, movement, eating and the ways I was approaching them that has completely transformed my mental and physical health. The behavioural changes she identified have enhanced my personal performance in so many areas in order to approach my new start.  

Anything else you would say to someone considering a Huddle programme?

The Huddle process is not just a simple resume rewrite, but a holistic shot in the arm that has revived my will to venture forth into a new career world during these uncertain times. It’s given me focus, new confidence in my existing skills and how transferrable they are and the realisation that I’m not ‘over-the-hill’. I was going through groundhog day every day but didn't know why. Why I was never even getting a reply or a return phone call. I realise not only had others pigeon-holed me but I had pigeon-holed myself. I now have a new view of how to present and position myself. I now know how to approach this exciting next chapter of my life. In the few weeks since I finished the Huddle programme I’ve already had more traction and responses than in the last eight months.


* We’ve kept the identity of our client confidential. As a Huddle client, it’s important our clients know their information will be kept private.

Header Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

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