Confession: I Have Been Leading a Double Life

What – did you think I had just been sitting around in our apartment for 5 months, twiddling my thumbs?

Nope. Matter of fact, I have been gainfully employed since December! That’s right – I’ve had a secret job for months now; but I can finally talk about it!

Why reveal this now?

The reason why I can talk about it is because finally, I have my residence permit!

“What?”, I hear you ask; “How is that possible, given you arrived in Europe on October 26th, and your 90 Schengen time would have been up in January?!”, I also hear you ask.

Well, that is a story for another post. So let’s talk about how this job stuff came about.

Ending holiday mode

When I first joined Jacqui here back in October, I treated the first few weeks more like a holiday. I thought it was fair enough to have a little break after such a full-on spell of months prior to leaving Australia.

Of course, I couldn’t do nothing forever; and with the number of days increasing where Jacqui would get home from work and ask me, “So what did you do today?”, to which my answer was: “. . .”, it was time to start seriously looking for a job.

Job hunting in Estonia

Job hunting in Estonia has a few quirky differences compared to back home. is the equivalent of Seek here; albeit a little less mature in its functionality.

Recruiters, I’m told, are slowly becoming more prominent; especially those who specialise in bringing foreign talent to the tech hubs like Tallinn and Tartu.

Then you have Meet Frank, the funky Estonian company changing the way recruitment works.

Meet Frank is designed more like a chat app to connect employers with candidates.

It’s a novel approach that allows a candidate to enter their field, their skills, salary expectations, etc.

Frank acts as the mediator between the two and asks if the candidate is interested in the role. Depending on the employer, they might ask you to answer some questions and they’ll contact you, or you might even be chatting with them right then and there, as I had done a couple of times!

It also presents some information about the company, including the perks of working there, and even interesting salary information.

It’s a cool little system which probably works quite well with candidates under, say, 35? But I think it does a good job of screening from both the candidate’s and employer’s ends.

Getting a job, then making it work

I saw an ad for this job and thought it would be a good start. It wasn’t as senior as I’d had previously, but that wasn’t a worry; I was more interested in actually getting to work in the first place.

I submitted an application, and a few days later got a call from the co-founder. We had a really good chat over the phone, and he invited me to come to the office to discuss things further, so I did, a few days later.

The interview was good; a nice balance between casual chat and the more run-of-the-mill interview questions. I knew it had went well, when at the end, he invited me to come and meet the staff I would potentially be working with, should I be the successful candidate. I kinda already knew at that point.

As I had kinda expected, I got an email a couple of days later offering me the job. Woo!

There was just one problem. I forgot to tell them I wasn’t legally allowed to work in Estonia yet! Shite.

I let them know, and thankfully they were cool with it. I suspect that, being a startup, they really needed to get someone. So we agreed that I would work as per usual, but I would instead invoice the company using my ABN (Australian business number, in case you’re not from Oz).

So the reason I made no mention of this job either here, or anywhere else like social or LinkedIn, was because it could easily jeopardise my residence permit application. I’m guessing it’s illegal to do some work as a foreign contractor whilst in Europe only on Schengen visitor time.

Now that I have my permit, I’m now gainfully employed and a tax payer in Eesti!

I work at a startup in the startup capital of Europe!

Mission accomplished.

Cliche unlocked.

So what am I doing? My official title is Customer Success Specialist, and I work for a little startup which makes really cool software that helps out folks in the hotel sector.

I say “official” title with tongue firmly in cheek; this is a startup in every sense of the word, and any time you can put your hand up to help out and wear another hat, you do.

In my official capacity, I do the following stuff:

  • Onboard new users to the system. I hesitate to use the the term “train”, because this system is so much simpler than the one in my previous company. Training for the previous system could take as long as a week; whereas now, the training is usually done and dusted in less than an hour!
  • I am the help desk. All support is fielded by me.
  • Customer success and retention. We keep an eye on the performance of the system for each of our customers. If it looks like a customer is starting to slip, I jump in and try to help them improve. We don’t like churn!

But given all the different things I was able to do in the last 10 years, I also have a lot of experience and skill to contribute with:

  • UX/UI/feature design. Like any good piece of software, it constantly gets reviewed, updated, and improved. And of course, new features get added and need to be designed and skinned. I already chip in quite a bit with all this work.
  • Customer communication. The thing that, in my previous company, was not done at all, let alone done poorly. So I’ve pushed new ways to keep in touch with our customers, including writing a regular newsletter, running regular webinars, improving direct communication in the UI of the software.
  • Copywriting. The company operates entirely in English, and I happen to be the only native speaker. So, if somebody has written something, at some stage it will come through me, which is a great opportunity to keep the same voice and tone both in the system, and with all our sales and marketing materials. As well as that, I write a lot of it in the first place.

And anything else that needs doing, basically! #startuplife

About the company

The head office in Tallinn has 8 people (soon to be more), and then the rest are all remote workers.

We have a dev in Tartu; a front end dev and a sales rep both based in Serbia.

We’ll soon have another remote salesperson dedicated to the Czech Republic, so in a few weeks, we should have a grand total of 14!

Best of all, the office is just a 15 minute walk from home, and that will shrink even further once I buy a bike, now that the weather is starting to improve.


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