A growing number of individuals are venturing beyond their home countries to explore employment opportunities. The United Nations estimates that over 270 million people live and work outside their country of birth, a number that continues to rise. This wave of emigration and the surge in cross-border employment have paved the way for remarkable stories of individuals who have embraced the challenges of working in a foreign land. Sharmini Yapan joined Fastnet in November 2022, taking on her first full time role in Ireland. Below Sharmini discusses her brave move from Malaysia and what she has learned along the way.
My career in recruitment began after my graduation in Malaysia. I started off as a Talent Acquisition Associate and then got promoted to Senior Recruiter in an international BPO company. At that time, my role was more focused on managing end to end talent acquisition to hire talent from customer services, IT Technical support, manage internal promotions, lateral transfers, redeployment at the same time managing immigration issues and employment permits for foreign hires. Needless to say, I have learned so much in my first role that gave me the confidence to pursue my career in recruitment despite being a Biotechnology graduate.
Later, I decided to pursue my recruitment career in a different industry hence I made the move to an international chemical and gas manufacturing company as a senior recruitment executive where I was focusing on hiring talents for the Finance Shared Services and the engineering department. It was a great exposure and I feel it really added value to my CV. On a given day, I could be hiring talent from an accounting background as well as hiring chemical engineers and managing a graduate trainee program.
What did you enjoy most in your previous roles?
My colleagues who became my friends. When some days can get a little hectic with the fast paced hiring and turn over rate especially in a BPO company, colleagues made all the extra hours worth it (not to mention the Starbucks treat from our boss for staying back 😂) Secondly, I enjoyed the full recruitment process exposure that I gained working with international stakeholders from both the companies I have been with, learning about different working styles, engaging with different hiring managers, being able to share inputs on interviews and gaining knowledge on employment permits and at the same time being able to share suggestions on mitigation plans for tough hiring needs.
To be honest, I didn’t have any real expectations – I was just looking forward to starting my first full time role in Ireland as soon as I came. I was open to anything in recruitment because that’s where my passion lies. It was a long road getting into the Irish workforce, between the bureaucracy involved in getting a work permit, a PPS number, finding a place to live, and of course some setbacks due to the pandemic. I will always appreciate how Fastnet gave me a chance and believed in me as I was just starting out in a new country and looking for exposure to the local talent market.
My job search was tough. Initially, I did not have the right permit to work when I started looking for a job, but I didn’t lose hope. I attended several interviews which gave me a well-needed boost in confidence, reassuring me that my experience and skills were valued. I got offered my first role in Limerick, but the permit conditions did not allow me to work at that time and unfortunately the company was not able to sponsor me either. Thankfully, Irish laws have changed and here I am now with Fastnet pursuing my career in recruitment and the future looks bright 😊
The market itself is a big difference. The hiring needs in Malaysia usually goes by multiple language requirements in most cases (not all) with English being one of the must-have spoken languages along with the Malay language or the Chinese language. Whereas the hiring needs in Ireland predominantly focus on the English language. The employment laws are also vastly different from one another such as the leave entitlements, benefits, maternity/paternity care, income tax, employment permits etc.
Otherwise, just like how we struggle pronouncing a Vietnamese name or even a Malaysian name for that matter correctly in Malaysia, here I am finding my bearings trying to pronounce ‘Ailbhe’, ‘Dearbhla’ or ‘Eoghan’. Google has been my friend through and through for this 😂
Professionally, I must say the biggest learning curve is that agency recruitment is far different from talent acquisition. I have also learnt that I am very adaptable and should always be open to change especially after starting up a new personal life and professional career in a new country. Being an immigrant also meant that resilience is my best friend. I have always been told that I am good at making new friends, however I learned that cultural difference can come into play when living abroad and so being open to making the right social connections can be so invaluable. I am grateful to Fastnet for providing me the platform to meet new people, having new colleagues who have become my friends, and expanding my social circle as an immigrant.
Whether you want to get into agency or in house recruitment, it is a rewarding career that gives you the opportunity to make a meaningful impact on people's lives. With dedication, persistence, and a genuine passion for connecting people with the right opportunities, you can progress so much further in this field.
The trust a candidate puts in you at the end of the day will be worthwhile and it is one of the key factors that allows you to gain deep and transparent insights into industries, client’s progress and achievements, and having the knowledge to wedge any gaps between candidate and client expectations. It is a great feeling to build relationships and be trusted to find the right candidate for each job and the right job for each candidate. So, I’d say do it!
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