How to find a job
Episode 40 - How to find a job during the pandemic, with global recruitment expert Geoff Morgan AM
My guest, friend, and mentor, Geoff Morgan AM, is one of the most successful HR businessmen of our generation and a great entrepreneur, author, and philanthropist. His life and career are aligned with human resources developments, recruitment, and selection globally, and his businesses have always been at the forefront of change in the sector. So, of course, I thought a chat with Geoff at this time would be invaluable for you, the podcast listeners.
Geoff fulfilled his childhood dream of living in the Australian Bush when he became a wool classer following his completion of Rural Studies. After five years of working in the country, Geoff spent several years in the shipping industry. Geoff traveled overseas on a working holiday and secured a job in the recruitment industry in London. His experience in London has been a great source of reference for the rest of his career in the recruitment industry.
Geoff's great love has always been working with and learning from people. His other great passions include Australian Indigenous Affairs, motor racing, cycling, travel, and, most importantly, his family.
Geoff was a co-founder of Morgan & Banks in 1985 and grew the company to become a dominant global recruitment force. Morgan & Banks was publicly listed in 1995, and sales grew to over $700 million before its acquisition by TMP/Monster in 1999. Talent2 was then established in 2003 and grew to be a global business acquired by Allegis Group – the largest private talent management firm in the world.
People are a passion for Geoff, and over 35 years, he has immersed himself in the work environment and employment industry globally and has helped many thousands of people with their careers and lives. Geoff has also been a great mentor to many people, particularly in the Indigenous Community, and more specifically around refugees and asylum seekers.
Geoff sits on several Boards, including McTavish Surf International Pty Ltd, The World Scout Foundation, and The World Scout Committee. He is the immediate past Chairman of LiveHire Ltd, an HR Tech public company.
He has co-authored four books on recruiting and interestingly authored a cookbook of family favorite recipes. In 2004 Geoff was the recipient of the Ernst & Young "Master Entrepreneur of the Year" Award for sustained business success. Geoff became a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2015 Queen's Birthday Honours in recognition of his service to the Scouting Movement and the community through executive roles in business, Indigenous education, and sporting organizations.
There have been significant changes in recruitment and selection in this time of the COVID pandemic. With extensive and significant layoffs, sectors under stress, and tectonic shifts in the job market, hearing from someone with such foresight and experience is a great opportunity. And to boot, Geoff is, as always, full of enthusiasm, positivity, and energy.
Remember, you can always reach out to me to start investing in your career progression. Check my website and find out more about my services, as well as the free resources I have created just for you.
I hope you enjoy this chat with Geoff.
Timestamps to guide your listening
06:54 - It's a family affair: How Geoff got into the recruitment business.
12:40 - Geoff was ahead of the game: fighting for diversity and inclusion since 1976.
17:54 - Geoff's take on the future of job hunting and recruitment - at least for the remaining months of 2020!
25:22 - How remote work and working from home arrangements will affect recruitment and selection?
27:48 - Geoff's a tech HR wizard, but he's not that keen on tech.
34:10 - Is there anyone still doing a reference check?
37:20 - Thoughts on the future of employment.
42:34 - Geoff's personal goals: what helped him succeed in business.
46:38 - On being a mentor.
54:25 - Final words of wisdom
Transcript of this episode
Renata: Hello everyone. A few weeks ago, I interviewed my friend and mentor Geoff Morgan, the co-founder of Morgan & Banks, and Talent2. And I'd love to read his bio for you to give you a taste of the amazing man you were about to meet. Together with his business partner, Andrew Banks, Geoff co-founded, the recruitment company, Morgan & Banks. And later on founded Talent2 International, the HR business process outsourcing provider. Between the eighties and nineties, Morgan & Banks grew to command 17% market share in Australia and Asia with sales that were over $850 million. And it went public in ‘95 and was acquired in ‘99 by TMP/Monster, a U S listed NASDAQ Company. Later on, Morgan & Banks launched Talent2 International, an ASX listed company with a focus on HR outsourcing and executive search and selection. Talent2 had operations in over 20 countries before it was privatized in 2012 with a joint venture with Allegis Group, a U S, and one of the largest privately owned staffing firms in the world.
Renata: The acquisition by Allegis was finalised in 2014. In 2015, Geoff Morgan was voted equal first, together with his business partner, Andrew Banks in an industry poll of the Top 5 Most Influential People in Recruitment Industry in the past 60 years. In 2014, both Geoff and Andrew were the inaugural inductees to the Recruitment International Australia Hall of Fame for individuals who have made a significant contribution to the Australian recruitment industries in their career. There are several accolades like that in their bios, especially in Geoff’s bio. And I won't have time to mention all of them, but for those who are keen to advance their careers, and if you are, bookworms like I am, Geoff has written and co-written several books on recruitment, selection, career development. And if I were you, I would go to the Amazon store and check them out.
Renata: People are a passion for Geoff, and for many years he has immersed himself in this environment of employment industry, but also social impact, social enterprise, not for profit. He also actively mentors a number of CEOs and executives, myself included, both indigenous and nonindigenous, and he has a passion for supporting indigenous Australians and people that come from other parts of the world like myself. He sits on several boards, he's very passionate about The World Scout Foundation and The World Scout Committee, he's been involved with the Scouts for many years, and he really enjoys spending time with people. I have been very blessed and grateful for the opportunity that he has been given me since we first met 12 years ago. The funny thing is that I've never been a candidate through Talent2 or any of Geoff’s HR organisations. I met him as a client and, I was the client, he and his company were the supplier and we have been connected ever since.
Renata: And he has been a great mentor and always a great reference in all of my resumes. And it's something that I am sure has really boosted my confidence. He has given me a lot of advice along the years and helped me adjust and adapt to living in Australia and also to pursuing my passion for career coaching and supporting people like he has done. I hope you enjoy this chat with this amazing industry leader. I have to say I waited 40 episodes to interview my mentor only to be plagued by counsel workers outside my window, cutting concrete.
Renata: And also I was so flustered by all of the things happening that day that I ended up missing out on recording the first 10 minutes of our chit chat, which is really unfortunate because I really enjoy that informality of when I first log into zoom with my guests. So it's a pity that you've missed that, but the final tail end of it, which is also very interesting, we are going to cut that and add that to the private Facebook group. It's more of a casual content and a real chit chat. So if you're are keen to listen to that and just be a bit of a fly on the wall of me explaining to chat my business and what I'm doing and him giving me advice, and so on, log into Facebook, sign up to be part of the Facebook group. And I hope you enjoy, you know, 10 or 15 more minutes of, Geoff and I having a chat, but without further ado here is the episode with amazing HR leader in Australia, Geoff Morgan. I hope you enjoy it. There is a lot of content here. Take notes. Bye for now.
Renata: Geoff, it's amazing that you moved from wanting to be a farmer and doing that tough job to then moving back into the city and going into recruitment. I find that fascinating. I don't know how you were able to make that shift. Do you remember the steps that you took?
Geoff: Absolutely distinctly. Well, I had the dream of, being on the land and I was on the land for five years in Australia and New Zealand working in shearing sheds and then running the shearing sheds. And then I met a guy and I became, believe it or not, the industrial advocate for the wool classes association. And that required me to work in the city office in Elizabeth Street, in Sydney. And then that guy, who was the president, offered me a job in the office, permanent full time job, paid. And that was after years of living out of a suitcase, travelling around New South Wales and Queensland and a bit of Victoria, and living basically in a corrugated iron shed out in the country. So putting on a suit, getting the train to work, you know, having sort of sit down and have a cappuccino at lunch was very appealing.
Geoff: So I did that for a period of time. And at the same time, I also was lucky enough to get a job in a wool broker company. And in that wool broker company, you know, I learned about business and I learned about office, how offices work and, you know, paying, you know, running the payroll for the farmers to pay them when their wool clip is sold. So, you know, it was evolution. And at the same time, you know, I came from a working class family. I grew up on a returned soldier’s estate from the Second World War. So it was a pretty tough little estate to grow up on. And my mother and father worked hard and my mother was the number one Tupperware sales lady, believe it or not, and also sold kitchens. And then incredibly, somehow she did a kitchen for this guy who was started a recruitment company.
Geoff: And he said to her, she's such a good sales lady. She'd be a great recruiter. So my mother started the first recruitment company in Paramatta in Sydney, placing secretary.
Renata: How old were you?
Geoff: I was early twenties, mid-twenties, and then I got a transfer on my honeymoon to London, with the company I'd been working for here in Sydney. And I didn't realise the geography of London and the job was in Tilbury in, out of London, but it was an hour and 30 minute trip. So I said, Oh, I'm not going to travel, you know, three hours a day in London. So I went to a recruitment company and looking for a job, probably a clerical job and the guy, and I said, I'm really good with people. I've been running shearing sheds. I've been liaising with unions on the waterfront in Sydney. I'm good with people and I'm pretty good sales person I think because my mother was a born sales woman.
Geoff: And this guy said, if there's one job that you will never be any good at, I reckon in my professional opinion, it's recruiting.
Geoff: Just because I'm a bit fractious. The next morning, I sat in a red phone booth in London with a bag of 10pc coins, started ringing recruitment companies for an interview. And I got a job through a Lady Josephine Salman was her name. She had about seven companies in London and I secured a job there as a recruiter for nearly 18 months. And that's how I got into recruitment.
Renata: Big mistake that man made.
Geoff: Ah, yeah. Well, we laugh afterwards actually. Yeah. And I fell in love with it. You know, I actually just didn't fall in love with recruitment as such. I fell in love with the people that I really had a passion for people. When I was in the country early on as a young kid, our next door neighbours was a, an Aboriginal family who were all drivers. And running around as a little kid, I didn't know about the discrimination in those days against indigenous people here in Australia, working in the shearing sheds in New Zealand, which I did for nearly a year and a half. I saw the discrimination against the Maoris. And again, I was always, it troubled me the discrimination, the harassment, even the sexual harassment, you know, so inside of me, you know, whether it's from my mother or not, I don't know, but it was this sort of this angst about discrimination and also wanting to help people. I got to, I remember the first lady I placed in London was an accounting clerk from the West Indies. And, you know, she was a very big woman and she also had hair above her lip and I got her this job and I got such a thrill out of it. I just thought it was the best thing I'd ever done, you know? Because she was so thankful.
Renata: And I think recruiters as agents and brokers have this opportunity to, is the right word, educate clients do you think? When they get these assignments and put forward people that are better suited for the role, regardless of background, ethnicity, culture, how do you see recruitment working to solve that? Because you've had some amazing companies along the way, we'll jump and talk about that in the future. But since you've brought it up, you've been such a, you know a champion for the support of Aboriginal people, migrants and civil society in general. I mean you mentor dozens and dozens of people and, you're so passionate about equality. How have you merged that with your jobs throughout your career?
Geoff: Well, I suppose back to that first woman in London, I knew she was black, you know, an African woman and the personnel manager rang up. She said, she's in reception and she's really, really big. I went, yeah, I know I've met her. And she said, she's also black. I know. Yeah. I know I've met her. I said, you don't have a problem with that do you? In Australia, everyone's allowed to get a job. And I know it's against the law to discriminate. So you don't have a problem with black people, do you? And she went, uhhhhh, no.
Renata: When was this? Do you remember?
Renata: Wow. Okay.
Geoff: And by the way, the Irish were bombing London in those days, early in the mid, early mid-seventies. So discrimination was something that, you know, I mean I placed the first female sales rep in the medical industry in Australia. And they went,’ a girl as a medical rep? You're kidding me’. But it was just a natural, they're nurses and they're going in to visit doctors, selling pharmaceutical products. It just was to me, a no brainer, you know, and of course now 80% of the people are female sales reps.
Renata: So it's very successful businesses and also able to make those leaps and bounds and springboard people into the roles.
Geoff: Well, I think it's a deep thing. You know, in all the businesses that I've started, the culture of the business and the values have been critical to making us different to everybody else. So everyone hates recruiters. If you put into Google recruiter, hate comes up. Not dislike or uncomfortable, or so when I started in recruitment, people wouldn't talk to you because you were a recruiter. You know, and they questioned the ethics, but part of the reason, and it's only one of the reasons that people don't like recruiters, if a hundred people apply for a job through it in those days, a newspaper ad, only one person can get the job. So by definition, you're saying no to 99 people. So if you are successful, you're saying no to more people than anyone else in the country. So people don't like to be said no to over and over again.
Geoff: So what we did was we said, we're not in the recruitment business. We turned the whole thing on its head. We're in the rejection business. When we reject people, we've got to reject them the best possible way we can, and totally understand and empathise with their position. So the 99 became nearly more important than the one. So we did things like that. And we just had critical values. If someone broke a value, they knew what would happen. They had to walk out of the business. If they kept someone waiting in an interview room for one more than one minute, I was told about it, no matter where it was in the world. And I had a phone call with that consultant about keeping someone waiting. Because when you, when you're looking for a job or you're going to a doctor surgery, it's a very nervous time. So, you know, little tricks like things which are really important for thinking and caring about the candidates, was a whole market, all of our businesses.
Renata: Yes. And it's really interesting because, right now we're going through this situation where the 100 are more like 500 for a job. We have 50% less jobs. This point in time when we're recording this podcast, then we had this time last year.
Geoff: That's 50% less advertised jobs.
Renata: Advertised jobs. Let's talk about that. Yes. And we have way more, um, candidates out there, high quality candidates out there. But in addition with, to the less advertised jobs, Geoff, what I'm also finding is that, because of the inability to forecast business, going forward in how people are now having to use foresight and critical thinking and, and using dynamic strategies to think about how to pursue businesses in the future, they may not yet have strategies to put together position descriptions to hire people they're in this sort of in between phase of adapting to a new reality. I think that new jobs, new jobs, as in completely new jobs will start to come towards the end of the year where people are going to start planning ahead for this new world post COVID. But right now we're in this, in between phase and its making, job hunters really incredibly anxious because, they don't see a lot of opportunities out there. Am I, maybe I'm working with a different segment of clients, but you have a much broader picture of what's happening. And I would really like your feedback about job hunting in June, July, 2020, July, 2020.
Geoff: It's very different. I mean, this is a, in 40 odd years, I've been through, you know, a number of recessions. I mean, and the weirdest thing of all was Y2K. So we all prepared Oh, globally like this. It was similar to this. Every people expected planes to fall out of the sky when the clock ticked over. So, but nothing happened, you know, there was all this preparation and that took, you know, 18 months of hiring people and training people in disaster scenarios. And then we've had recessions in and around that. And all of those things happen if you like slowly, this pandemic has happened fast. It doesn't, it's extremely weird in that it's happened so quickly and unexpectedly and no one was prepared for it. And if you like globally, the economies of the world, weren't going too badly. So we're in a pretty good situation.
Geoff: So it's actually someone jammed the break on the world, stopped spinning, and the people kept spinning. You know, so people are falling over and unfortunately people have died, and governments haven't managed it well, you know, and people don't know what to do. So people panic, they get scared. And of course a job is the key to everything else in people's lives. If you don't have a job, how do you pay your mortgage? How do you pay for your car? And you pay your healthcare, you don't even think about holidays. So this thing has had the biggest impact on employment in my time in recruitment in 40 odd years. And therefore it's incumbent upon people like myself to try and think and help people to think, what am I going to do? So the first word I've said to them is survival.
Geoff: Okay. Don't think about what you used to do in your Amex card, where you used to go to lunch on the company and think about, how are you going to survive? What have I got to do? And then sit down and start to think what all of these businesses have stopped dead. What are the businesses have had that could be created to cope with this crisis? And there's a lot, there's a lot of things take a couple of examples. I don't necessarily like to talk about alcohol, but a lot of people there’s a company in Byron Bay, near our surfboard company that make gin, rookies gin. Overnight, they had to hire a whole lot more people. Of course, they have started to make hand sanitizer. And they were trying to recruit staff from our company and some of them from our company that we had to let go in the surfboard business, because our retail businesses were stopped dead, we're hired by this company to start making hand sanitizer.
Geoff: So, and I'm not saying all of those businesses that have started up because of COVID will, can absorb all of the unemployment, but you have to start thinking completely differently. And I think survival, what have I got to do to survive? And no matter if you look back in history of the world, human beings are incredibly clever at surviving and coming through, you know, very bad periods of history, which will look back, back on this. We will look back on this. Like we look back on Y2K. So I mean, and the other thing that's the employee side, I think the biggest thing that I've seen for corporations is that for the first time ever, and I could give a hundred examples, employers have had to start trusting their employees because they're all remote. So they've had the word trust is the newest value in Australia or global corporate life.
Geoff: Because you don't know when they get out of bed, you don't, you know. My youngest daughter is a school teacher. And she was telling me that when all the kids were on, on the zoom meetings, these little kids, even these little three year, three and four kids, it worked out that they could do a repeat push up. So instead of when they were doing physical fitness, I do 20 push ups, they just did one. And they had this link to make it look like they were doing 20 push ups. So, you know, so a lot of change will occur from this. And a lot of it is bad, but a lot of it's going to be good and trust is to me the first one. And then the second one is geography. You're in Melbourne now. You know, if we were having meetings every week, we'd be having people. I have meetings with people from all over the country. And now I'm having board meetings, global board meetings. And you know, the irony about these meetings, we've had the best attendance for any of the board meetings ever. And everyone's on time. I'm a stickler for time. And when people wander into training sessions or board meetings, and they're late, I lock the door, but they're not. They're all on time. So you could go through all of these characteristics that this crisis has created.
Renata: It's very interesting. I have a client and she has always worked for Australian companies. And now she's interviewing for an organisation that's based in the U S they have no office in Australia, no connections here, but she had one interview, with a team on the East coast and our, sorry, the West coast. And now last Friday, an interview with the main office on the East coast. Yeah. It could happen that those barriers will kind of disintegrate because as long as she has the right skills to support this business, it really doesn't matter where people are. I'm assuming that there will be some HR policy issues, that internationalisation might make it challenging for large organisations to hire overseas. But if you're a start-up or, you're a smaller organisation, there's definitely that opportunity that you don't need to only look in your country. You can start looking overseas as well. Have you considered that as part of this new change?
Geoff: Absolutely. And I'm just using your example. My eldest daughter lives in Geneva at the moment, but she just got a job in Copenhagen. So they're moving to Copenhagen and her husband's in IT, and he can live anywhere and work. So, but she never met anyone face to face.
Renata: She needs to move to Copenhagen?
Geoff: Selling their house in Geneva and moving. And the first time she'll meet the people is when they arrive after driving for three days.
Renata: Right. There you go.
Geoff: And she said it was the most intensive process she'd ever been through.
Renata: The selection?
Geoff: Interview process yup.
Renata: Now this is, has been enabled by an amazing technology that facilitates zoom meetings and board meetings to occur, and interviews and all of that. And you have been involved in technology and recruitment and selection for decades now with, you know, the famous Monster that was such a pivot in the way that recruitment and job ads were presented to candidates and kind of even democritize the way that you will be able to access it. As long as you had internet, you were able to access that. And now we have other platforms that have flourished since then, and having known you for over 12 years. Now, I know that you have always been a step ahead in technology, in the recruitment and selection space, both to support employers and to support candidates as well on both sides. I remember a lot of technology and talent too for bays lips and things like that that you guys used to do. That was fantastic. You basically had all of the universities at one point, I remember as clients of talent too, didn't you with that technology that was so well designed to support payment of staff and all of that.
Geoff: I think we had the first internet HR, anything internet HR in Australia, and one of the first in the world before Monster actually started. But, you know, I'm, I've got, you know, an eclectic view about what you've just talked about, because I think technology has slowed a lot of things down. Today, if a recruiter made seven placements in a quarter over three months, people think they're fabulous. Back, when I talked about with my mother and when I was in London, we would make seven appointments a week.
Renata: All right.
Geoff: So, and yes, I get the employment market's changed, but you imagine if you run an ad in the newspaper and you've got a hundred responses. If you put something on the internet, you could get 500 responses and there's an efficiency about it, but there's also an inefficiency about it. It clogs up the systems. So out of all of this has created these big systems called ATS as applicant tracking system. And they talked to the job boards, but from the click of a mouse, someone can now do, you know, 10 different resumes to 40 different jobs overnight.
Geoff: So, and you've got to look at all these different resumes and, you know, so it's made things in a certain way, a lot more difficult, but certainly the reason we developed the internet when the internet started, the reason we developed job hound was tried to take away the administrative part of a recruiter's job, which today is like 70%. We would interview back in the old days, 20, 30 people face to face. Now they might interview seven or eight in a week because they're on the computers processing all the time. So in a way, the recruitment processes become even more administrative than it was before, but it's systematised. Now, is that a better experience for the candidates and employees at the moment? I’d debate that because I love like, love looking at you now. I love that human interaction. So we're having to all, having to adjust in these current times, these big technical systems to people's ability to apply to hundreds of jobs if they want, and also not see people face to face physically face to face, get used to seeing them on a flat screen.
Renata: Well, now, candidates are interviewing without looking at anyone via video interviewing software, where they look at the camera, they receive a question then they look at the camera, answer it in three minutes, and then they get another question. And then it's so awkward to do it.
Geoff: But you and I don't have to do that on zoom. I can look at your eyes. Now, there's only some technologies where you've got to look up at the camera to, to appear, to look into the person. So that's a new skill people have got to learn to do. It's a bit like if you, if I'm going on TV, doing a spot on TV and I'm in Sydney and the studios in Melbourne, I'm looking just into a camera lens. I can't see that the host on the TV show, I'm just looking into, which is disconcerting at first.
Renata: That's the word I was thinking about and for a candidate that really wants that job and has never done it before, it can put you off and take the mojo away of answering the question with confidence and showcasing all your skills and experience. So the practise of that is really important. LinkedIn just launched a prep tool where you can practise on LinkedIn. And I guess more and more people need to practise because it's becoming more and more high tech, the recruitment and selection process for candidates. Whether we like it or not. It doesn't really matter it's happening.
Geoff: Well we always used to practise interview people.
Renata: Yes. It's different the way that it's done now.
Geoff: Exactly, exactly. And that's what it weighed in my oldest daughter, the example I gave earlier, she had to do assignments, send them assignments and they’d read it and then come back with questions. And so it's actually was a very, it can be very thorough because today, as I said earlier, people can create profiles on themselves. And unless you check things thoroughly, you don't know who you're hiring. I say to people, 60% of people start work without a reference check. And everyone goes, oh not in our company. Well, then you start to dig deeper and ask questions and you find people are joining companies without being reference checked properly.
Renata: Well, you've been a reference of mine since 2010. How many people called you?
Geoff: None that I can remember.
Renata: I remember you would be annoyed when I was hired and you hadn't been contacted. Remember that?
Geoff: Exactly yeah. Because I knew exactly that. So if you ask anyone and you say to them, Oh, I just hired so and so, and you'd say, well, what did the referee say? Oh, the other people, the HR, they did that. And you go and say, okay, well, how many calls, you know, go and ask them? And what you find out is same thing you just said, I didn't get one call. And this happens over and over.
Renata: It happens a lot. But I have a feeling it's because people just couldn't believe you were my reference. They're like, no it must be a joke that Geoff Morgan is her reference. We're not going to call him. They never did.
Geoff: Well, I did a, I placed someone late last year, a very senior communications person. And I had to reference check in with the deputy, current deputy prime minister. And he rang back. He said, you're kidding me. What are you calling for a reference for? I said, because I referenced check every single person. And when I was asking the questions, you said, you're not allowed to ask that. You know, like I said, Oh yes I am. But it was, it was like, it was really, I had to ring the candidate and say, Oh, he was a bit, you know, awkward because he said, I can't remember the last time someone's called me about a reference. Yeah.
Renata: And I think it happens a lot. But when we think about the future now for these candidates, we have a lot of people rethinking their careers, reflecting upon what they're going to do. They are in their thirties, they are in their forties. Some are in their fifties. And I have friends that have left Quantas that have left Virgin, their sectors have disappeared. I have clients from the non-profit sector from higher ed, people that have been made redundant and people that have, that are just waiting to get the bad news. They just, they see it coming, you know, because I think the next redundancies will come in waves as we start to adjust to, a trimmed down version of bricks and mortar.
Geoff: Well, yeah. And what's going to happen after the job keeper?
Renata: What's going to happen after September? So September will be in Australia a milestone month for the economy because the government support might end then for job keeper, not job seekers, I'll explain that in the introduction when I do it. Well, even job seeker as well. I think it might reduce back to the levels of the welfare system as it was before. And then what do you think is the best way for professionals in the corporate and non-profit sector and public sector to start considering their options? If they still have 20 years, 30 years to go in their careers, what is it that we need to do to think about it? Are we looking at long-term employment? Is it time to think about a portfolio of options and embrace the gig economy and start looking at contracts and consulting and a mix and match of things? Or should people still look for full time employment? These are the questions that some of my clients are struggling with.
Geoff: I’m going back to my first word survival. So you need to sit down with a list. You know, I like lists, you know, like I always still have lists and I start with the lists and work the options and then work on one after the other, you know, it's a bit like sitting in the phone booth in, London's getting out the phone book, starting at A and going through and just keeping going. It's tough. But, you know, as I said earlier, that humans are very resilient and we find ways to survive. And that's what we've got to do now. So as an example, there's a couple of businesses that I work with, which are small, very small businesses. And out of this has come. The fact that they have very long service leave owed to employees and holiday pay. And I say to them, or, you know, in this mentoring moment, if you were a public company, you wouldn't be allowed to do that. You can't keep accumulating those debts on your balance sheet. Right? So, well, how am I going to do it? Well, what you need to do, I've said for years, you need a nonexecutive director outside of your family.
Geoff: So just in this last little bit three people, and they're not all high end directors. One of them is a lawyer. One of them is an accountant, but I've said to these people, you, to these other organisations, you need to look at these accountant person. You need to look at a lawyer to come in and sit as a board member in your family company, because some of them have hundreds of thousands of dollars of long service leave and holiday pay owing. And then the people say, Oh, I've been with you 22 years. And I've had no sick days. And I had 10 days sick leave and they multiply 22 years by 10 days. And that's how many days like, like it's, so that's one little niche for people who are prepared to say, okay, there's something I'll get 30, 40, $50,000 a year to sit on that family company. They're the sort of changes that are going to come around small business. And another people I've helped is this lady had a, believe it or not true story, across the road from, you know, I race cars as a passion. And my race car engineer is across the road from this lady who used to go to work for four hours a day, two days a week. She had this little company making masks.
Geoff: Now she's working seven days a week, 24 hours a day. And my engineers, the race car engineers with the business opposite her are over there all the time, fixing her machinery to keep it going. And she's had to employ 14 people. So, and she’s saying to my friend, I didn't want to do that. You know, I didn't want to have run a business like this. So, you know, I'm not saying there's people making masks everywhere. But as I said earlier, there's a company making gin making hand sanitizer. So, and there's lots of examples of that here on my building site, building my new house, all the builders are walking around every day with these covers on their boots because they're messy. Well, I've gone through cartons or these covers, you know, so there's, it's a new world and what are the new things that are happening? And that's back to my point about sitting down with a list and thinking about it. And there's a guy here keeping the site clean, who was an accountant.
Renata: Geoff, as an entrepreneurial businessman, have you always had a focus on like a purpose and future minded goal that you wanted to achieve? Or did you let some organic opportunities come to you and you would embrace them when they come? What's your philosophy about getting yourself beyond what's happening right now, which might be a bit overwhelming at times and sort of keeping that sort of goal in the future?
Geoff: Well, most of the things to answer your question, that one part first, most of the things that have come to me dropped in my lap, haven't been that successful. If I've tried to invest in things like wind technology or AIDS cure, which I've done too, because I was concerned about that. It's either been too early or start-ups are too difficult. So 95% of start-ups fail. Right. Having said that every second young person that leaves uni or school today has come up with a business idea. And now in this new age, they can set themselves up on the internet and they look just like a big corporation. They can have a website look at your own business. You know, you're, you're a global business woman. Right. But no one says, Oh, you're working from home. That's no good anymore.
Renata: That's true.
Geoff: So most of the things that I've tried to do, like we tried to transform recruitment. That's what we wanted to do. We want to, and we always said, we wanted to care more about the candidate than the client. And the only reason recruiters care about clients is because they pay the bill.
Geoff: Okay. And for many years it was illegal for candidates to pay a recruiter, for anything. So I've always tried to, you know, the underlying purpose is always about people. It's a bit like all the work I do with the indigenous community and the refugees and asylum seekers. I mean, we have the longest living culture on this planet, the Australians first people, and they didn't survive 60,000 years because they're incompetent. They're clever. Look, we've just been through the biggest Bush fire disaster in a hundred years. We didn't need to do that. But again, this community society, we're not utilising a lot of the resources. So I push for the resources to be used. I work with, you know, I'm a scout, as you know, I'm on the world board of two scouting boards and the chair here of their foundation. And it's in it's because I believe in young people.
Geoff: I mean, young people are just stimulating to be around young people and they're, they don't know that they can't do things, right. And they're adjusting really, they're doing things in this environment now. Yeah. They adjust fast, you know, and I like to hang around them because I'm old now. And I like to hang around young people. And also, I like to hang around with new people that have come to this country where we've been, you know, and I love it that the, you know, the snowy mountain scheme was built by people from central Europe that couldn't speak English. And then the Italians came and the Greeks came and after the Vietnam war, we had the Vietnamese come and we've had the Iraqis. And those people like the education system in Iran and Iraq and Persia for many thousand years was way in advance of anything we've ever known. And they're all smart people. And they add to the climate here, the culture, which is fabulous.
Renata: I think it would be great for us to finish off by talking about how you choose to invest in people and the importance of your advocacy and your mentoring to people like me. Now, you and I met back in 2008. And like I said, since that time we've known each other and you've always been super supportive. And I know it's not just me. I know that you and Ross together probably mentor, I don't know how many people I'm going to guess 40 ish plus.
Geoff: And I get told all the time to stop it, but it's a bit hard.
Renata: You guys are really amazing. And on and off I meet some other people that you or Ross are engaged with and supporting and very excited about their careers. I've always felt that even though nobody has called you just by having you as a mentor and a reference has meant so much to my career and has not only boosted my confidence, but has given my resume credibility when I send it out. And of course, where I am today and having this coaching business that I have today, is partly because I've met you and because all the conversations that we had and the projects that we did together early on back in, you know, 2008, 2010, that has also always been an influence, right? How do you know who to invest your time in? There hasn't been a time where I called you that you haven't answered.
Renata: I don't know if you've ever noticed that it's really, you know, and I'm sure that you know, that you have, you have to make a choice at some point, but it's, it's so important for people like me that are new to the country that have no network and no connection, but highly ambitious, to have people like you. And I try to pay it forward as much as I can, you know, to make sure that I'm giving support to others as well. Do you see other people in your situation doing the same thing? I don't see many people doing this. I wanted to ask you if this is part of a league of extraordinary people out there that are supporting a younger generation of leaders coming through, and, you know, I want you to know that this is super important.
Geoff: Well, it's a funny thing. I mean, it would be good to put wisdom into young people's heads, but I mean, I've always said to candidates that come to see me, I'll try as hard to get you a job as you try. So the funny thing about life is, and business and success in life, all you have to do to be successful in life is to do something. Now there's a book on how to do everything in the world, right? People love to write books about how to do something. So if you say, I want to cook scones, there's a woman that's written the recipe for the best scones ever. I've written a number of books with myself on my own. And with Andrew on how to get a job, how to start a recruitment company. And then you say to people, you want to go into the recruitment industry, get my book, get Greg savages book, get all those, read all those books and then just copy it. And if you need any help, ring up and I'll give you my advice. So do you know how many people actually do that? A tiny fraction, a tiny.
Renata: I know this because I'm always offering for podcast listeners to call me and book a time, you know, to have a consultation with me. And not many people do.
Geoff: Well, people say, Oh, I wish I could ring you. I say, well, my phone number's there, but you won't, you won’t. But you do because it's, that's the thing to the people out there that listen. And I've always said, people say, Oh, I get knocked back. I say, I've been knocked back so many times I cannot tell you. But the more I try, guess what? The more I get so successful people fail more often that unsuccessful people and people say that doesn't make sense. I say, yes, it does. They try more often. Okay. So they might fail nine times. But on the 10th one they'll succeed and someone tries twice and fails. That's it? So to answer your question to everyone, and it's not just me, it's other people, you know, like people said, well, how did you get the deputy prime minister ring you? I could get the president of the United States to ring me for a reference check.
Renata: Not this one though.
Geoff: No, but, so that's the key they do try and, it's self-help in a way. I mean, and so that's how you get to know who, because those people will come back and you know what, it's not always the smartest people. It's the ones that try and commit. And they're the ones that I say to employers. You know what, yes. I don't think they're as smart as Jeff, but I reckon they're work harder and they seem more practical to me. So think about, so people always say, oh, when people leave, you know, I knew there was something wrong with Jeff when I hired him. And I said, well, why did you hire him? Or I've just had to let them go because of these characteristics. And I say, well, were those characteristics there, when you employed them? Because a lot of us that employ people when someone doesn't work out say, are they no good?
Geoff: Well, wait on, they didn't just walk in off the street and sit down in your office. You welcomed them in. So they blame the person that they hired for not being good enough. But, you know, it's a simple thing. Try hard and keep at it because everyone else will give up, you know, and everyone will say, Oh, that's not, I'm living here. I'm living there. Well, I've seen a lot of people in a lot of tough situations in Sydney. There's 41 suburbs in Sydney that are below the poverty level of world health, 41 suburbs. So Macquarie fields, Claymore, or all of those places where you've got second, third, fourth generation unemployment, 41 suburbs in Sydney like that, the biggest indigenous community in Australia is in Western Sydney. And people go into the middle of Australia to help people who are struggling. You don't need to go very far, get on a drive out West and stop well down South, you know, and that's where I’d go.
Renata: Yeah. All right my friend. Well, I think we've spoken enough. Do you have any last words of wisdom for the podcast listeners before we finished this?
Geoff: I'm not a religious person, but have faith. Have faith in us as human beings have faith in the fact that we will survive this and we'll work our way through it, but it won't be easy. The next two or three years are going to be very, very hard.
Renata: I agree, thanks Geoff.
Geoff: But believe that we are all us recruiters are all out there, you know, with our hearts open, trying to help.
Renata: Okay. All right. Wonderful. Thank you so much.
About the Host
Hello, I’m Renata Bernarde, the Host of The Job Hunting Podcast. I’m also an executive coach, job hunting expert, and career strategist. I teach professionals (corporate, non-profit, and public) the steps and frameworks to help them find great jobs, change, and advance their careers with confidence and less stress.
If you are an ambitious professional who is keen to develop a robust career plan, if you are looking to find your next job or promotion, or if you want to keep a finger on the pulse of the job market so that when you are ready, and an opportunity arises, you can hit the ground running, then this podcast is for you.
In addition to The Job Hunting Podcast, , on my website, I have developed a range of courses and services for professionals in career or job transition. And, of course, I also coach private clients.
Contact Renata Bernarde
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My free resources for job hunters: The Optimized Job Search: Weekly Schedule & Masterclass.
Learn more about my services, courses, and group coaching: RenataBernarde.com