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Career profile: Sarah Wheatley, resourcing manager, Teach First

Posted on from Changeboard

Get to know your peers in the global HR community through our career profile series. Today, we profile Sarah Wheatley, resourcing manager at Teach First. She shares how important her organisation’s values are to her, her proudest career moment so far, and the best advice she’s received.

Basic details

Name: Sarah Wheatley

Job: Resourcing manager

Current employer: Teach First

CV in brief: 

  • Resourcing manager, Teach First, 2012 – Present
  • Recruitment advisor, Sainsbury’s, 2010 – 2012
  • Recruitment coordinator, British Heart Foundation, 2008 – 2010
  • HR assistant (Generalist), United Response, 2006 – 2008.

A day in your life

Tell us about your job and organisation. 

I’m the resourcing manager at Teach First, a top UK charity with a really important mission – to end inequality in education. 3.6 million children live in poverty in the UK today. Statistically, these kids will do worse at school, earn less and die younger. I work hard every day because of this.

One great teacher can change a child’s life. Teach First work in low-income communities across England and Wales. We find, train and support people to become brilliant teachers, inspiring the young people who need it the most.

Prior to me, there was no resourcing manager. It was a new position created to respond to Teach First’s strategic growth plans. Two years on, 22,000 applications and over 500 filled positions later and there’s still so much more to do. We’re 11 years old and we’re growing rapidly so that makes for a dynamic working environment which I really enjoy.

It’s my job to ensure Teach First recruit and retain the best possible talent. My team and I manage approximately 70 vacancies at any one time, from attraction to selection and onboarding.  A significant majority of our vacancies are filled directly, using job boards or social media. Given the complexity and variety of our vacancies – from business operations to education specialists and various new breeds in between – I’m particularly proud of this.

Continuous improvement, that’s us. We’re results driven and have lot of projects on the go including strengthening our induction offer, talent pipelining, employer brand development, workforce planning and finalising an online recruitment system. I also spend a lot of time analysing data and spotting trends to define our attraction strategies and vision for the future.

Who do you report into? 

The director of HR.

Tell us about your team.

We’re a small but mighty team of three. We sit in HR and work closely with the HRBPs to maximise the outputs of our amazing talent and maintain healthy retention levels. I’m lucky to have two wonderful colleagues supporting me to recruit and retain talent. Our backgrounds are quite different – a combination of corporate, charity and professional services – and it’s that diversity that I believe makes us successful.

What is the most rewarding part of your role? 

Seeing my team develop.

What is the most challenging part of the role? 

Squeezing everything I want to achieve into the short number of hours in a week.

What does a typical day look like for you? 

Every day is different. Some days are spent head-down filling vacancies and other days are discussion led, providing solutions to strategic issues or driving projects forward. Teach First recently implemented an agile working approach and so the office décor is fun and there are different zones to suit everyone (from collaborative booths to private study areas) so I pick and choose depending on the work I need to get done.

Why did you choose your current organisation to work for? 

It’s important for me to work for an organisation which shares my values and vision for the world.

Perks and downsides of your role? 

The perk comes from being surrounded by bright, intelligent and hardworking people every day. The downside is the classic recruiter challenge – everyone wants their vacancies filled yesterday.

What skills are essential for the role you’re in? 

Resilience, strong organisational skills, creativity and a clear vision.

Career path

How did you get to where you are now? 

A good education, honest friends and parents who believe in me – plus a dose of Mum’s ruthless determination. I’m also incredibly thankful to some of my early mistakes; the lessons I learnt continue to drive me today.

What were your best subjects in school? What and where did you study? 

I grew up and studied in London. At School, I liked Maths and Chemistry (strange for a dyslexic!)

What was your first job? How did you get it and why did you choose to work there? 

My first job was as a receptionist at Gray’s Antiques Market, a hidden gem in central London and I loved it! My parents are antique dealers and so I’ve always had a thing for old treasures and was lucky to be recommended for the position (thanks Mum!)

Have you followed the career path you set out to? 

Like most people in recruitment, I fell into it. As a child I changed my mind every week. After my traumatic teens I decided I wanted to be a psychologist. I took Psychology at Bournemouth University and completed a post-grad qualification with the Open University with the intention of applying for an MSc or PhD. It’s still on my cards (my back-up occupation if you like) but for now, I’m enjoying this career path. I think everyone should have more than one career in their life time.

What challenges have you faced along the way? How did you overcome them?

Studying while working full time for three years wasn’t easy. Leaving a small charity and joining a 150,000 large corporate organisation wasn’t easy. Performing my own job and that of two absent colleagues for six months wasn’t easy. Starting a new job and discovering the processes, systems and infrastructure weren’t there at the same time as taking on 100 vacancies in one hit wasn’t easy. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It’s amazing what the human mind is capable of when it has to fight.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to land a job?

A little bit of CV embellishment might have occurred early in my career.

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far? 

Winning a category for the British Heart Foundation at the Recruiter Awards for Excellence 2010 with my then line manager, Rebecca. She showed me that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.

Do you have any career regrets? 

Not getting involved in extra-curricular activities at university. I’m always impressed my candidates who have done this.

What advice would you offer to others who are looking to get to where you are now? 

Put in the hours, deliver on your promises and step outside your comfort zone once in a while.

What advice would you give to your 22-year-old self?

Stop worrying about what other people think and apply your energy to exploring your own beliefs and values.

Either/or…

  • Coffee or tea?: Coffee in Europe, tea in India
  • Jam or marmalade?: Marmalade (Golden Shred specifically!)
  • The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?: The Rolling Stones because they are better (fact)
  • Mac or PC?: Mac to admire, PC to use
  • The Guardian or The Times?: The Times on a Sunday because I like the pull outs
  • BBC or ITV?: BBC, because it was first!
  • M&S or Waitrose?: M&S, I love the brand
  • Morning or night?: I’m most productive late at night and first thing. It’s a tough balance
  • Rain on snow?: Rain, because it’s consistently annoyingly, unlike snow which tricks you by looking pretty on the first day
  • Sweet or savoury?: Sweet, but I wish that wasn’t the case

Favourites

  • App: Instagram because I like to see how other people view the world
  • TV show: Tough Young Teachers because it highlights a problem in our society that most people are not aware of and provides a solution to resolve it
  • Band: Incubus because their lyrics reassured me as a teenager
  • Song: August 8th by NOFX because that’s my birthday
  • Book: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, it’s beautifully sad and hopeful
  • Sports team: I like watching the Olympics but that’s about it
  • Thing to do on a Friday night: Swim at my gym because no one is there
  • Place to eat: Bibendum for the 1920s architecture and the iconic Michelin Man
  • Holiday spot: India, it has a piece of my heart
  • Piece of advice you’ve been given: “Try hard, listen well and do it quickly.” – David Wheatley (my father), recited at the start of every school day

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