Hey, Asher 👋 Great to meet you! Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?

Hi! I’m half Greek, half English - born and raised in South London and currently in my second year of being a full-time employed Software Engineer. I left sixth form at 18 as I didn’t think further studies was for me and wanted to go out and get some real-world experience in a full-time job, which lead me into the wonderful world of recruitment. After working in the recruitment world for 5 years, I felt it was time for a new challenge, which is when I became more and more interested in software engineering.

In my spare time, I like creating content for Instagram, working out, learning about Web3 and generally just spending time with friends/family.

What inspired you to change roles from a background in tech recruitment to becoming a developer?

I was originally recruiting within the Cyber/IT Security space but branched out into the software development world due to the number of companies/existing clients who were looking for software devs. I spoke with devs from all different walks of life and covered everything from Front-end to Back-end & Full-Stack, as well as other roles within the engineering space.

Through talking to hundreds of developers, I became more and more interested in the space and in the type of projects these individuals were working on. That led me to take a course on Udemy covering Front-end development and I did some research into the back-end, mainly around Java. 

I enjoyed the course I took and wanted to pursue it further so, over the summer of 2019, I researched the best ways to transition into tech and if things such as a degree were a necessity (they’re not) and how you could learn everything you needed to know in order to transition over. 

When I learned that you can pretty much teach yourself everything you want for near enough free, I decided that was going to be the new route that I go down. It’s always been my dream to build my own mobile apps knowing that anyone around the world with a smartphone could have access to it at any time - and timing wise, I felt it was right to pursue a new challenge and to step away from the world of sales/recruitment and fully dive into software engineering. 

Looking back on your tech recruitment experience, what do you think the biggest pain points are for techies when looking for a new role?

From individuals I spoke to on a daily basis, most of the pain points which were generally mentioned to me were not having the opportunity and freedom to work remotely, or from anywhere. As we’ve seen over the last couple of years, in a lot of cases, there’s no correlation with being chained to your desk in an office and being productive.

Opportunities to progress were also prioritised, but another important reason I think is transparency. When looking at job specs these days, it seems a lot of buzzwords are just used when it comes to work-life balance and culture etc. Being able to really see what a company is like to work at and what their core values are that they hold is important, as with any job I think you’d like to feel that you’re valued and that the work you’re doing is important. 

I don’t think a bunch of bean bags or a pool table determine what a company’s culture is like, it's more so how people within that company treat each other that's important. Devs also wanted someone they could trust and who actually understood their needs and requirements, as opposed to a lot of recruiters trying to persuade them to go for any role that came across their desk. The recruitment world’s definitely become a bit saturated and, unfortunately, there are a lot of bad recruiters out there who give the industry a bad name.

Flipping the coin, as a tech recruiter what were your biggest gripes? For example was it unanswered messages, lack of transparency from your clients you were representing in terms of salary etc?

Dealing with clients who don’t really appreciate just how much work recruiting takes. A lot of clients just assume you find a couple of CVs online and send them over and it doesn’t take long and, as they don’t appreciate your time, they don’t understand that you have to move quickly in a market such as this and that good candidates are hard to find. 

I think lack of transparency is certainly a factor too and not just in terms of salary but with what clients are looking for. The goalposts are constantly changing with clients, a lot of the time they’re not even sure of what it is they’re looking for in an individual. 

On the other side of things, working with candidates is always tough, and understandably too. There’s so much noise out there that it can be easy to forget that candidates are people with their own stuff going on. They’ve probably got another hundred recruiters chasing them which is in itself an obstacle. Great candidates are often fielding multiple offers at once, you’d like to think that if you’re honest with your candidate and don’t waste their time, that they’d also do the same - but it doesn’t always work out like that. In my experience, I think transparency and honesty are what’s needed more from all sides.

As a self-taught developer, are there any coding bootcamps or websites that you’d recommend?

I’ve heard good and bad things about coding bootcamps, it depends on how you learn. I spoke to a few people when I was in recruitment, just by networking, as I was interested in going to a coding Bootcamp - some people said they just needed the structure of being there from 9 am till whenever, as opposed to being at home trying to avoid distractions and study by themselves. 

I couldn’t recommend a coding Bootcamp as I haven’t got the experience of going to one. I decided to go down the self-taught route as I was confident in my ability to sit down day-in-day-out and study. My favourite website for self-teaching where it’s either free or very cheap are:

  • Udemy - great for courses covering a range of different subjects/languages and courses are often on sale for £10-£15 each. 
  • YouTube - you can learn how to do almost anything for free, from front-end to back-end, to learning about everything in-between.
  • FreeCodeCamp - has hundreds of hours of resources to work your way through and learn at your own pace, they have a full curriculum for learning front-end development and tons of articles to dive deeper into certain topics.

I also used Leetcode a lot when starting out to understand how to better solve problems with JavaScript, but you can do so in languages such as Java, Python etc. etc.

Do you have any advice you’d like to share with others who are thinking about changing careers into tech?

I’d say why not roll the dice. You’re never too old to make a change in my opinion and if you’re scared you may not like it, at least you won’t regret having tried as you can always fall back on what you’re currently doing. 

If you’re struggling to make the decision, go out and talk to people who are doing it, network, message someone on LinkedIn, ask them to go for a coffee or for a video call and pick their brain. You’ll probably be surprised at just how willing people are to give advice and tell you about their experiences. The tech community on a whole is amazing and there are some great people out there who’d want to help you. 

And, if you finally decide it's right for you and you’re ready to make that leap, put a plan together of what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it and how long you expect it to take you. With the right plan in place and the right attitude, nothing will stop you.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years' time? What are your career goals, if you have any?

My career goals have always been to run my own successful business, so in 5 years' time that’s what I’d like to be doing, and if I’m not doing it by then, I’m at least still working towards it like I am today. When thinking about transitioning into tech from recruitment, my ultimate goal was always to create my own App/SaaS which I’d end up working on full time in the long run. 

I believe that if you learn how to sell, and learn how to build, you can go on to accomplish anything. I feel my time in recruitment was great as it taught me the sales side of the business and now I’m learning how to build applications. I also love being able to work from anywhere with just a laptop and a wifi connection, so living the laptop lifestyle has always been a goal in mind for me… I’m excited to see what the next 5 years bring.

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