Climbing the corporate ladder rung by rung? How passé! It’s 2022, and the times they are a changin’. With the addition of remote work options and hybrid schedules popping up all over the place, and meetings and networking events available in both a virtual and an in-person capacity, the world of work looks very different than it did in years gone by.
Enter: the nonlinear career path. Instead of focusing on moving up and up and up, professionals are exploring opportunities to make lateral or diagonal moves, embrace twists and turns, learn new skills and let their career journey take them to places they never expected.
Today we’re chatting with Impact’s Training + Development Specialist, Wendy Chiu, about her time at Impact and how falling into recruitment led her to finding her true passion.
Q: Okay – let’s just start with basics! What’s your name and what’s your role at Impact?
A: I’m Wendy, and I’m the Training + Development Specialist at Impact Recruitment. I run the entire two-week onboarding program for all the new hires that join our team – which is quite a few!
Q: How many?
A: Oh, wow – I think since I moved into this role, I’ve onboarded and trained 50+ people.
Q: Okay, you’re right – that’s quite a few! How long ago did you join Impact?
A: I joined right out of university, so that would’ve been October 2019.
Q: And this wasn’t your role at that point, was it?
A: No, at that time I was a Recruitment Specialist, with a focus on industry accounting.
Q: So, you’re a brand-new grad and you’re just starting your career: what drew you to Impact?
A: I was working in a sales role that I didn’t mind, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do forever. One of my friends was in recruitment and he told me that there was an opening at his company, so I decided to give it a try. Right off the bat, I knew that agency wasn’t for me – the culture fit was non-existent. I stuck it out for a while but, honestly, I knew that I needed to get out of there.
Q: And that’s where we come in?
A: Yes! And it’s probably how I got the job at Impact, actually. If I hadn’t had that recruitment experience, I don’t know if I’d have landed here. I remember looking at the Impact website and seeing all these photos of their staff hanging out together at events and job fairs, and they just seemed to have a really great time together. That was a big selling point: I was like, “Okay, now this looks like somewhere I want to be.”
Q: So, okay, you join Impact and it turns out you’re a really, really great recruiter.
A: Oh, come on.
Q: It’s true! You were really successful in that role, so what was it that made you want to make a change and get into training?
A: I genuinely enjoy recruitment, I do! You get to help people achieve their goals and take the next step in their career, which is very rewarding. And yes, I guess I was pretty good at the job – but I don’t think I’m cut out for recruitment in the long-term. I found that I was so invested in the success of my candidates, that it was really tough when things didn’t work out the way they’d hoped, and I was starting to feel a little bit burnt out because of that.
Q: That makes sense, so what did you do at that point?
A: I knew I needed a change, but I also knew that I wanted to stay in recruitment or HR. I decided to get my CPHR certification, but after the exam I wasn’t really sure where to go from there. I have a great relationship with [my manager] Brett, so he knew what was going on and that I was thinking about what I wanted to do next in my career. We had a number of candid conversations about what was coming down the line for me, and then, all of a sudden, this internal training and development position popped up at Impact.
Q: Well, that’s clearly fate or something.
A: It was definitely a right time, right place kind of thing, that’s for sure.
Q: This kind of role change that sees somebody shifting from a recruitment or business development role into an internal, non-production position with Impact, that’s not unusual is it?
A: No, and that’s something I really appreciate about this company.
Q: We’ve had people move from production roles into internal HR administrative and marketing positions. Being someone who’s made this type of move in your career, what do you think the key is to doing so successfully?
A: There aren’t a lot of people who plan to get into the recruitment industry, a lot of the time it sort of just happens by chance and you might really enjoy it and make a career out of it, but other times, your career goals become more clear and you realize that it’s not necessarily sustainable for you in the long-term. If that’s the case, the best thing you can do is to be honest with yourself and your manager about it – be open and vocalize how you’re feeling. At Impact, management is really understanding, and, in most cases, they’ll work with you to try and accommodate and support you on your career journey – but it’s up to you to get the ball rolling.
Q: It’s not always easy to approach a conversation like that.
A: No, it’s certainly not. It can be really nerve-wracking! That’s another thing I’ve learned from working at Impact, how to really articulate my thoughts and figure out why I’m feeling the way I am and decide what I can do about it, how I can get closer to reaching my goal. I’m very grateful to be here, honestly, and I’m really glad to be with a company that encourages you to explore your passions.
Q: You sound very wise, you know.
A: I told you, I’ve learned a lot since graduation! I wish I knew then that you don’t need to have everything planned out right away. You don’t know what your future’s going to look like, so don’t overthink it. Work hard, try your best and be open to opportunity when it comes your way – you’re capable of so much more than you can even imagine.
Q: Well, this kind of segues perfectly: tell me what you love most about what you do now.
A: Being in a training role, I get a lot of fulfillment from seeing others succeed – it’s such a great feeling! Knowing that these individuals value my expertise and trust in my ability to make sure they’ve got all the skills and tools they need to find success in their new role, it’s so rewarding.
Q: And is there an accomplishment that you’re particularly proud of?
A: I think it comes back to asking for what you want. It’s funny, because in recruitment we’re always telling candidates to know their value, to ask for what they deserve – but it can be tough sometimes to take your own advice! Since being here, I’ve gotten much better at that, and it’s something I’m really proud of. If you don’t believe in yourself, how’s anyone else supposed to?
Q: And on the flip side, what’s the most challenging part of your current role, and how do you deal with that?
A: Figuring out how to effectively train other people. In a role like this, you encounter so many different personalities, and it’s up to you to figure out how to navigate that and ensure everybody’s getting the kind of support they need. Being in a position where I was responsible for managing people who might not learn the same way that I do – that was very new to me. Sure, I’d done the job myself [working as a Recruitment Specialist], but understanding how to do something yourself is one thing, but showing somebody how to do it is entirely different. It was a little intimidating, especially because I knew our new hires were really counting on me.
Q: Well, you clearly figured it out because your trainees are big-time Wendy fans.
A: It was a bit of a learning curve, but I was really determined, and I’m very grateful for my manager at that time for helping me build up my confidence and reminding me that the best thing you can do if you’re feeling overwhelmed is to just slow down and refocus. Don’t second guess your system, because you can’t help somebody else when you’re stressed out yourself.
Q: How has the company changed since you’ve been here, and what are you excited about as we continue to grow moving forward?
A: Well, to start – we’ve grown a ton! When I joined, I think we were about 60 people at that point, and I’m not sure exactly what we’re at now in terms of numbers, but it’s probably somewhere around 110, which is close to double! So, yeah, big time growth, it’s been exciting to see the company expand in both size and reach, establishing a presence in new markets and adding new employees who are located all across the country.
Q: And we’re not slowing down.
A: No, we’re not! Jeff [Impact’s CEO + Founder] is really future-focused, and he’s really excited about what we’re doing and where we’re going, and that’s really reassuring. As the head of the company, you’re steering the ship, and knowing how much faith he has in us and the company is awesome, it’s an exciting thing to be a part of.
Q: We’ve made it to the last question! What’s the best advice you have for someone who’s either just joined impact, or who’s thinking about coming on board?
A: That’s not easy – I don’t know if I can pick just one!
Q: Go with your instinct.
A: Alright, well, how about this: remember that there’s going to be tough days, things are going to get stressful sometimes, but don’t let it get to you – try and have fun with it. The people in this company will be there to help you get through it, and they’ll get it, because they’ve been through the same thing. That’s the big difference at Impact: the amazing people. You’re never alone, you’ve got endless support and, as long as you keep pushing, big things will happen for you here.