TALES FROM THE FRONT: From headhunter to cleaner

Headhunter Stacey Wilkinson (above right) is proud to list her job as a cleaner in prime position at the top of her LinkedIn profile.

Not many others in her position would call attention to this role, one so different than her usual headhunting turf. But that is exactly what Stacey Wilkinson, founder of Techsearchers, has done.

In December, Wilkinson, from Manchester, was enjoying the high life on Necker Island, Richard Branson’s private getaway spot (above). However, the last couple of months have marked quite a change for Wilkinson, who has seen her income slashed by between a fifth and a 10th of what she was earning previously, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“If somebody had said to me three months ago that I would be cleaning toilets at Tesco, I would have laughed in their face. I don’t mind admitting it at all, that I was one of those smug types who probably thought I was better than ‘that type of job’,” she acknowledges. However, since taking the cleaning job, Wilkinson says, her attitude has changed.

Wilkinson decided to take the job with an industrial sanitisation company working in a Tesco store after work at Techsearchers dried up. “It was partly to give back, partly for my mental health and partly to keep the money coming in as well,” she says. “Everything was turned on its head mid-March. I just had to do something to keep busy, as I live by myself and am not the stay-at-home type, so I was really concerned about loneliness and isolation setting in. It’s about resilience and adapting to a changing environment... and I am enjoying the contrast, to be honest.”

When Recruiter spoke to Wilkinson, she was in the final week of her temporary job as a cleaner, and would soon “be ramping up” her headhunting business. However, although her time working as cleaner was only brief, she says the effects on how she operates her business when it is up and running again will be permanent and profound.

“I have always counted or discounted job applicants based on CVs and career histories, but now it doesn’t matter what people have done in the past anymore,” Wilkinson says. “I even put my Tesco cleaner role on my LinkedIn profile, because I wanted to prove a point. From now on, each time I get those hiring managers asking me ‘What’s this gap?’ and ‘That job isn’t relevant’, I will be sticking two fingers up because those things [attitudes] don’t matter anymore; it’s what value people are adding at the moment, and what they can add going forward.”

She adds with self-deprecating humour, reflecting on her own past attitude: “I have egg on my face, don’t I?

I don’t think that I am above scraping chewing gum off a shop floor at all now – I don’t think any of us are. It has definitely taught me not to judge a book by its cover, though I think we’re all guilty of doing this.”

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