Meet Nancy Pham, CPA, Senior Recruitment Associate on our Permanent Search Team

Meet Nancy Pham

Before joining Clarity Recruitment, Nancy worked in finance and accounting for over a decade. Now she’s using her expertise to help candidates land their dream jobs and support fast-growing companies looking for the right talent to scale.

Tell us something interesting about you that’s not on your resume.

I had a “side hustle” as a voiceover artist for a couple of years post-university. I started taking on contracts (doing radio commercials in Vietnamese) as a favour to a friend whose family ran a media agency. It turned out to be a really fun and interesting experience, so I kept experimenting with it and eventually worked on over 30 radio and TV ads/announcements.

As a CPA with over 10 years of industry experience, making the move to recruitment is a significant and exciting career change. What was the most surprising thing you encountered when you became a recruiter?

Sometime in the last decade, I discovered that I love working with people. Having already embarked on a rather long journey as a CPA, I tried to reposition myself in various roles and projects within Finance that allowed me to be a business partner and build relationships, but it never felt like enough. What surprises me most so far about recruitment is that what I do everyday genuinely does not feel like work; it comes a lot more easily to me than technical accounting ever did. However, I will say that I really appreciate the work of a recruiter now that I am privy to this side of the business. At Clarity, there is a lot of collaboration and communication among our team before a profile even gets in front of a client. Having had not-so-great experiences with other agencies in the past (as a candidate), I am pleasantly surprised with what I’ve learned from my colleagues at Clarity in terms of providing a good candidate experience.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about making the transition from accounting to recruitment?

I believe you need to genuinely enjoy helping people in order to succeed in this profession. I had considered other “sales” opportunities in the past but what attracted me to recruitment was the opportunity to make a profound impact on someone’s life. I am excited by the prospect of helping someone land their dream job or helping a client find that “superstar” hire that will transform their team. Having my CPA training and industry experience has definitely helped me connect with both candidates and clients, so I appreciate that I am still able to leverage that knowledge in this line of work. I guess my advice is that it is never too late to listen to the voice within; there is always an opportunity to pivot and give yourself a second shot.

You now spend most of your time talking to candidates about potential opportunities. What advice would you give to someone who is deciding between a career at a firm versus industry?

I find it so interesting to listen to candidates when I ask them what their next ideal role looks like. A lot of the time, their answer is focused around what the optics of “progression” looks like in terms of title, salary and responsibilities. When I take a minute to ask them again what it is that they truly want to do, regardless of these factors, many of them don’t have a clear answer. Looking back, I wish I had spent more time networking and talking to different people across various professions early on in my career. This would have allowed me to get a better understanding of what certain paths look like (beyond titles and pay) and would have enabled me to make more informed decisions for my professional and personal life. I don’t have any definitive advice to give to candidates other than to network and ask as many questions as you can and be genuinely interested in getting to know someone, because it is through their successes or failures that you may learn what it is that you want or don’t want.

We’re always looking for recommendations, what are you currently watching/listening to? (Netflix, podcasts, etc.)

I have not been able to get through a full season of anything since my second son was born; it is questionable what I watch versus sleep through when Netflix is on these days. With that said, Succession was the last series that I absolutely loved. When I just want to decompress, vintage classics like Friends, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Modern Family always do the trick.

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Job interview with interviewer and candidate

What’s your favourite interview question?

“Why should we hire you?” This question can be intimidating for candidates, but it’s an excellent opportunity to sell yourself, especially if you’re making a career change or your university major was different. Before going into an interview, I encourage candidates to reflect on attributes that make them unique – their “personal value proposition” and think about how it brings value to the role and the organization.

Cashier using point of sale system

What was your first job?

I had a short stint as a crew member under the Golden Arches (McDonald’s) during high school. I usually got the worst shifts, typically 5-6 am on weekends. But now I like to think that it prepared my circadian rhythm for this very trying chapter of raising infants and toddlers.

Laos Monks Walking

What’s your favourite place in the world, or your top vacation spot?

One of the most memorable travel experiences that I cherish is having visited Luang Prabang, Laos, and observing the Alms Giving Ceremony at sunrise. This ancient tradition takes place at 5:30AM where local residents wait quietly as hundreds of Buddhist monks walk silently on barefoot to receive the alms, the main source of their daily sustenance. It was a very spiritual experience.

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