Balancing the Grind with Caitlin Fairchild, Global Head of Talent Acquisition at Xplor

Caitlin Fairchild is the Global Head of Talent Acquisition at Xplor, where she leads a team of 18 across APAC, North America, and UK & Europe.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I moved to Australia from the USA in 2011, right after uni with the idea of it being a one-year adventure. I quickly fell in love with Australia and “fell into” recruitment like many of us in the profession do. I started my career in agencies including working in a very niche area of Information Management recruitment – I recruited librarians! 

Fast forward a few years, I was working as a tech recruiter and was approached to join a small start-up. The energy, vision, and values really drew me in, and I loved the idea of being part of building something totally new. I’ve now worked at two start-ups and feel I’ve found my place working with founders and scaling teams. 

My current role is at Xplor, which has gone through significant growth over the past 18 months including being acquired. During my time here, I’ve now had 4(!) different roles and been able to expand my responsibility outside of recruitment to try my hand at all things people related.

Right now, I lead the Global Talent Acquisition team, which has grown to 18 team members across the 3 regions of APAC, North America, and UK & Europe. We’re working hard on merging multiple ways of working and systems to establish the first global talent function at Xplor.

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

My role is primarily a mix of communicating with and supporting the team day to day, working on global projects and strategy, and reporting. 

A recent day for me started with an early call with the ATS Project Team, to update each other on progress and discuss key issues as we prepare for a roll out of the system to our US based colleagues. Then, a weekly meeting with part of the US team to talk through open roles and challenges they’re facing operationally. 

Next, I’ll speak with one of the Regional TA Leads in our weekly 1on1, discussing requirements for next year’s budget. The rest of the day I’ll work on a report to show trends in volume and challenges in each region, catch up on emails, book in meetings for the week ahead, and post any important updates to the team on Workplace. 

There really aren’t two days that are the same, which is part of the reason I have loved working in People & Talent roles. 

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

We’ve always been flexible at Xplor, but now being part of a global team meant I needed to work out how to juggle covering the many time zones within the team.

This has meant I may start late or finish early to balance my hours, and I try to group meetings together to keep my schedule more practical.

What makes it all manageable is being disciplined with scheduling (and sticking to) when I will be off from work during the day and planning things like date nights on my free evenings. 

I’ve recently moved out of the city to the Mornington Peninsula, so will now be working remotely with the occasional visit to the Melbourne office. I’m looking forward to adding beach walks as a must in my daily routine now. 

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

Being in a role that has a high variety in the number and timing of hours required, has meant more effort in finding a balance. I’ve had to shift my mindset that each day isn’t going to always strike a balance, but instead look at my life holistically.

For me, this means I try to ensure that I manage my energy to be able to give attention to all parts of my life. I’m a very introverted person, so working remotely has helped me have more energy outside of work than pre-COVID, since I am able to do quieter, independent work between meetings. 

Overall, I am always checking in with myself to make sure I’m taking care of myself first, to be able to perform and be present for everything that is important to me. 

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

The most life changing thing that happened to me in the past 12 months happened earlier this year when I hit a mental and physical wall as a result of multiple stressors I was dealing with in my life.

I decided to reach out to the EAP service provided via work, which led me to getting professional help. At 33 years old I found out I have anxiety, and a lot of what I had been experiencing finally made a lot of sense. Working with a therapist has empowered me by helping me understand my emotions and triggers, and giving me new tools to help myself day to day. 

With the advice to learn what worked specifically for me to not just rest but also restore my energy, I worked out that having time in nature and learning something new (not work related!). It really helped. Something as simple as walking around Albert Park Lake while listening to a podcast ended up being my saving grace during the lockdowns this year in Melbourne. 

I’m still learning how to be more open and comfortable talking about my own mental health journey, as I want to be able to help normalise talking about it in the workplace. We’re all human with our own unique challenges and changing lives, and at the end of the day we need to look out for each other.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I have a huge crush on Jennifer Kim – she writes about recruiting and D&I in start-ups and is gifted at distilling the complex into simple, great advice. 

I’ve found the following books have helped me during my career journey so far: Powerful by Patty McCord and Mindset by Carol Dweck. 

Then there’s everything that the legend Hung Lee does with Recruiting Brainfood. An absolute must to subscribe to if you work in recruitment or simply care about what’s happening in recruitment around the world. 

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

My day is run according to what my Todoist app tells me to do. 

I save everything interesting to read into my Pocket account.

I’m learning how to be better at just “being” instead of always “doing”, so using the Downtime setting on my iPhone and taking up mediation using the Balance app have both helped me tremendously.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?  

Adam Grant. I’d love for him to do a deep dive into this topic.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Learn to be comfortable with being a beginner at things, meaning you’re going to suck a bit at first. That’s part of the journey. 

I love the quote by Jim Rohn – “Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” Embrace the change in your life and use your energy to see the positive – that there is growth and opportunity ahead of you.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.