One Year On

Today marks one year since I’ve gone from a front end developer to be a technical recruiter at Lookahead Search. In my previous jobs, making it to one year just felt like another day. But this time it’s different. It feels more significant because it was a career change.

When I was a developer, I would feel quite settled into my role after a year of being at a company. I’d have a good understanding of the code base, the processes and the people. But one year on at Lookahead, I still feel new to the job.

So how do I feel about it after a year? Gosh, it is a fucking hard job. Firstly, there are lots of meetings and that gets quite tiring. Everyday I am talking to people on the phone and in person. Some days I have back to back meetings, meetups at night and I’d feel completely wrecked by the end of the day.

I also can’t google for answers anymore because every situation is unique. Sometimes people ask tricky questions and I’d need to think on the spot how to answer them well.

It really is the most challenging role I’ve ever had because nothing is ever the same. People and situations are unpredictable. Even if you do all the right things, you might still not get the result, simply because there are things outside of your control, and that’s been hard to adjust to.

Having said that, it has been the most amazing year of learning and growth. It has amplified many aspects of myself. I’ve become more confident, more empathetic and more self-aware. I learnt to be a better communicator and listener. I understand people’s behaviours and their language better. I’ve learnt so much about people. They really are fascinating and continue to keep me on my toes!

As much as I enjoyed building software before, I didn’t always get to practice what I believed in, such as accessibility, maintainable CSS, pattern library etc. Now, I feel proud and happy about the work I do everyday. I don’t need to compromise my personal values and beliefs, which is to genuinely help people find great jobs and help companies build great teams. But on top of that, being able to provide advice and be a bit of a sounding board to people when they feel lost makes me feel so humbled and privileged.

I certainly wouldn’t be able to achieve all the things this year without my team. We all look after each other and I’ve had so much support from everyone. I feel completely comfortable being vulnerable amongst them and that requires a lot of trust. I know they have my back.

When I started my career in tech, I certainly didn’t think 10 years later I’d be working at Lookahead, but I’m so glad the journey and everything I’ve done have led me to this point. It’s the best job I’ve ever had.

(And thanks for my face snow globe, Lookahead team! For those who don’t know, we have this tradition of putting faces on things haha!)

A photo posted by Fiona Chan (@mobywhale) on

The Privilege Of The Human Connections

I’ve been at Lookahead for almost 9 months now, and have spoken with over a hundred people. I’ve never been in a job that allows me to connect with so many different people. They tell me about their work, their life, what they love doing, what they want to do in the future. They ask me for advice about their resume, career path, hiring process, company culture and much more. Sometimes they even share with me the ups and downs in their personal lives.

Through every conversation, I get to know them a little better. I feel very privileged that I get to do that and share some of their experiences: I feel their joy when they find their dream job, are able to hire someone they really want on their team or finally have their permanent residency. And I feel their disappointment and sadness when they don’t get that job they want, someone turns down their offer, or something sad happens in their personal lives.

I’m humbled that so many of them trust me enough to have me as their sounding board and someone they’d come to when they need advice. Some of them even become my friends. Thank you to all the people who’ve trusted me.

I Love Our Community

As I’m writing this, I’m on my way home after a very long day. It started at about 11am when I got a call from my SydCSS co-organiser David to say that something came up and we had to change venue for our event. And that was happening in about 7 hours!

I probably let out the loudest F bombs anyone has ever heard me yell. So much so that our friends next door asked me later, “Was that you swearing before, Fiona?” 

So we needed a plan B. David and I started figuring out who we could call for a last minute venue. We rang people we knew from the community, emailed people, I started asking if work would let us crash the office. No one hesitated to help us. While I was panicking, everyone was reassuring me that things would be ok. We finally decided we’d use Lookahead’s office and we started setting things up at around 2pm. Our neighbour whom we share the office with were lending us their office equipment. David’s team from Finder carried these metal chairs from their office (5 blocks down the road) so we could have more seats. My colleagues helped move all the furniture away and got the popcorn machine going. Friends came to help us get the place ready… I can go on and on.

The night was a success. We had about 75 people turn up and I think everyone had a pretty good time! Throughout the night I was thinking, “Wow! What an amazing community I am in”. Everyone has been so supportive of us. Even before today, John Allsopp from Web Directions was connecting us with CSSWG speakers, and they offered to give a talk on the night. Support was coming in from all directions. We really couldn’t have pulled it off without everyone’s help. 

I feel so lucky that I chose a career which lets me be a part of such a caring and sharing community. I don’t know what other industries/communities are like, but this web one is pretty f*cking amazing.

Thank you everyone.

(Ok I’m done with all my F bombs for the week)

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Ten Weeks In At Lookahead

10 weeks in at Lookahead and I’ve made my first placement! Super happy about it. I was kind of lucky that the timing worked perfectly: the right job came up for the right candidate. But that’s not to say I didn’t work hard in getting the candidate the offer.

Flowers from the candidate I placed
Flowers from the candidate I placed

If anyone says to me being a recruiter is easy, I may have to punch them. It’s a challenging job because people are hard. I’m really enjoying it though because I am learning SO much, like how to write good emails, how to ask the right questions, how to understand people, how to deal with difficult situations, how to multi-task etc. I find these are good life skills that I can use on a day-to-day basis. Even if one day I decide I want to do something else (not anytime soon!), I can still see myself using these skills in any jobs I take.

Although I’m not coding on a daily basis, I’ve really enjoyed meeting developers and chatting with them. Having that technical background definitely helps me in being able to understand what developers and companies are after. I’ve also spent a lot of time in giving people general advice on job search and resume writing. Some of them were really appreciative of that.

I’m slowly learning that a lot of things can go wrong in this job even if I put in 110%, because people are unpredictable. But when things do work out, it really is quite satisfying :) I’m happy that I can do what I’ve wanted to do when I joined Lookahead: helping others without compromising my beliefs and integrity.