4 Critical Mistakes that Hold Most Teachers Back From Finding a New Career Path

I have thought a lot about what teachers who want to make a career change should do to successfully change careers. The longer you have taught, the more difficult the transition may be. You need to understand the moving parts of the job search process if you want to be successful. You also need to appreciate how a future employer might see you as a potential candidate.
Success scheme on notepad

Success

Watch a video I recorded on this topic by clicking here.
 In a nutshell, here are the 4 mistakes teachers make:
1. Not spending enough time with the question, what do you want to do next? Few teachers–few job seekers in general, actually–spend as much time on this question as it deserves. Changing course mid-career can feel daunting. It takes time. You need to take the time to consider your purpose and your passion. Consider what you feel is your mission in life is. Take time to complete some aptitude assessments. Find free and inexpensive aptitude tests online. Check your Myers-Briggs profile. Revisit it if you haven’t thought about your natural dispositions lately. Shouldn’t your career be in alignment with what you enjoy doing? And shouldn’t your work duties be things that come to you naturally? Why do so many people work in jobs where they feel like they are “swimming upstream” much of the time? Also, consider your core values. Your next career should also be in alignment with your deeply held beliefs.
2.  Rushing into writing a resume or worse, paying someone else to do it for you. You can’t write a resume until you have gained clarity around the question of what is next for you. People think that their resume is a chronicle of their complete work history. Many teacher resumes include lists of duties and responsibilities. They should focus on achievements and successes instead. I also see many resumes that fail to make the connection to the job description at hand. Your resume should be a good match with the job description if you are going to apply. I heard one recruiter say that the resume must be at least a 60% to 70% match.

Unemployment.

3. Applying for anything and everything that you think you might like to do or CAN do. Too many teachers either undervalue or overvalue their transferrable skills. For example, teachers often tell me that they are considering corporate training. That seems to be a good segue from teaching. The trouble is that there is a big difference between teaching 2nd-graders and adults. There is even a big difference between teaching high school kids and adults! Most hiring managers will be leery of hiring anyone without direct training experience. If you would like to be a trainer, make sure to offer some training as a volunteer if you need to. Gain some real-world experience to include on the resume. Taking that initiative signals that you have already branched out into that area. Your success there might predict your future success in a training job. The best approach to changing careers is a strategic one. Think through what it is you want in the future and work your way backward to where you are now. What logical steps should you take to get you to where you want to be? Think of it as a chess game. You need to understand the rules of the game to win.

4. Not understanding how important LinkedIn is to your job search. LinkedIn is currently growing at the rate of 2 new members per second. Headhunters, recruiters, and hiring managers look for talent there. They prefer passive talent–those who are not searching for a job–to active job seekers. If you can build a rock star LinkedIn profile, you move a step closer to finding the job of your dreams. Frame your profile around what it is you want to do next (see #1). Keep the focus more future oriented than past oriented. Highlight your transferable skills rather than on duties and responsibilities. Make sure your photo is professional looking, and don’t forget to customize your URL. Build connections with colleagues as quickly as possible. Get to the 501 mark. Connect with alumni and friends from your personal circle. Look for people that you know who work for companies that you think you might like to work for in the future. You may wind up using LinkedIn connections to get your resume in front of the right people.

These are 4 of the critical mistakes I see teachers making when they want to change their career. Learn more about how to avoid costly mistakes that job seekers make. Register for my FREE webinar here: http://bit.ly/JumpstartYourJobSearchWebinar. You will learn 10 things you should know about job hunting or changing careers.
Top view of the working place with woman's hands. A laptop, notepad and a cup of coffee are on the table. A job search flowchart is drawn on the table.
Job Search
Join me May 2, 2017, at 7 pm Eastern. To register, click here: http://bit.ly/JumpstartYourJobSearchWebinar.
Until next time.

Stress Management Tools for Teachers: 7 Tips for Surviving the Rest of This Year

Spring has sprung, April is upon us as we are already a week in. Easter is a week away, and for many teachers and students around the country, that means a much needed and well-deserved Spring Break.

Once Spring Break is over, everyone comes back to school with a single purpose in mind:  get through the last weeks of school as quickly as possible. I have written before about how some teachers and students begin a countdown until the end of the school year, checking off each day as one day closer to “freedom.”

counting the days

The hard fact is that teaching is an increasingly stressful occupation. I receive calls every day from teachers all over the country who confess with some chagrin and no small amount of regret that they are experiencing symptoms of burnout. They need to escape, and while I can help in that area, the more immediate concern is what to do about the stress until they can make their getaway?

Unchecked and uncontrolled stress will make you sick!

Because I want to help, I have developed a short course on how to keep your sanity and navigate these final weeks of school with some sense of peace and ease.

Want to know more?

Take a look at this video, and I will explain.

In this short course, I cover 7 specific strategies designed to help you manage your stress more effectively…not just during these final weeks of school, but all the time. The strategies are:

  1. Mindset (Attitude)
  2. Healthy habits (staying physically strong and well)
  3. Controlling your environment
  4. Managing your workload more effectively
  5. Using the 5-Second Rule (thank you Mel Robbins!)
  6. Setting better boundaries
  7. Asking for help when you need it

Each module in the short course includes information and instruction along with recommendations and suggested resources selected to help you implement the strategy for the week.

Each module is designed to help highlight areas where teachers, in particular, tend to fall into certain traps.

For example, get a group of teachers together and listen to their conversation. I can guarantee that in less than five minutes, the complaining will start. Not that the complaints aren’t legitimate because I would venture to guess that they probably are. The trouble is that complaining without doing something about the object of the complaint is not only not helpful, but it can also become counterproductive.

I hope you have new complaints

The trouble with complaining with a friend about things at work is that it validates your perception of reality, and if you feel aggrieved, it adds to your sense of righteous indignation. Venting can be healthy, but too often, complaints devolve into gossip which can be dangerous and even more counterproductive.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not above gossiping. (I am human, after all.)

I was especially guilty of it when I was teaching, however. The lounge invited gossip of all stripes. Gossip about students, their parents, the principal, and anyone who happened to be out of the room at the time.

Here’s the thing about gossip. While it can seem harmless enough, sometimes, it becomes harmful. Especially if it turns out to be wrong or untruthful, it can certainly hurt the person who is the object of the gossip.

Gossip seems to be built into our DNA. I don’t know anyone who is above engaging in it although my grandmother was pretty good about avoiding it. In fact, I never heard her say a single negative thing about anyone. She would listen silently to a conversation about someone in the community or at church, and invariably, if she did speak, it was to offer something positive about the person in question. But she was the rare exception.

In fact, if you think about it, we thrive on gossip, don’t we? Why is the National Enquirer so popular except that people love the juicy headlines on the cover each week. Even if you don’t buy it, you take a look at the cover as you wait in line at the grocery store, don’t you? Magazines like People and others thrive on gossip about celebrities, and we are eager to hear all the details.

Too often, teachers thrive on gossip about each other. And it is hurtful to the culture of the school in general.

Women gossiping.

I would like to suggest that one way to better manage your stress between now and the end of the year is to become mindful of your own habit as it relates to gossip…even gossip that seems harmless.

You see, it is not just an empty phrase that mindset is critical to your success or that attitude is everything.

Your attitude creates the frame through which you view your life. If you are constantly on the hunt for something that you can criticize or complain about, you will find plenty of things about which to complain and criticize and you will be extremely unhappy with your life.

During these last few weeks of school, strive to find positive things to say, and look for the positive in each situation that arises. It may feel hard at first. But it will become easier with practice. Changing the way you view things can make a huge difference in your attitude, and once your attitude changes, everything around you changes…like magic.

If you would like to know more about how to manage these final weeks of school with ease, click here and learn more about the program I am offering. It is a great deal as far as your investment of time and money, and it may make a huge difference in how you wind up this school year.

Happy Spring!

 

Another Resource for Teachers Headed for Burnout (But Not There Yet)

I mentioned in my last post that I am always on the lookout for a new reimgressource for teachers who are feeling the pain and confusion of burnout. I found another one that you might find of interest. It is The Happy Teacher Habits:  11 Habits of the Happiest, Most Effective Teachers on Earthby Michael Linsin. I hadn’t heard for Mr. Linsin before, but I learned that he operates a web resource for teachers. He also offers personal coaching. His website is Smart Classroom Management, and if you check him out, you will find other books that he has written and other resources that he provides.

Here is what I said about this book in the review I just wrote for Amazon:

“As a Career Transition and Job Search Coach who specializes in helping teachers who are suffering from burnout, I am always on the lookout for resources that might help them. I might suggest this one to a more experienced teacher who hasn’t hit the wall of total burnout. I don’t think the suggestions are as practically useful to a new teacher, however. You can’t figure out how to narrow the focus of your lesson before you know what you are doing. And you don’t have the luxury of saying no to your new administrator when you are the new kid on the block. These are more useful suggestions to the veteran teacher who knows their subject matter well and for the teacher who has already earned the confidence to be able to set healthy boundaries and say “no” when asked to do something they don’t have time to take on. Having said that, as a veteran teacher who has now been out of the classroom for a while, I enjoyed the stories and anecdotes very much, and I get where the author is coming from and the value of some of his other suggestions. This book could be offered to anyone (not just teachers) who have gotten caught up in the vicious cycle of too little balance between work, home, and personal hobbies. Unfortunately, some of the first to five-year teachers have already hit the wall before they can get to the place that the author suggests…having the freedom to run their classroom more or less independently of anyone else’s interference. As a veteran teacher and one perceived to be a master teacher, no doubt, he has earned the flexibility that he seems to think any teacher can claim for themselves any time. I wish it were so easy. Perhaps if it were, the shortage that is looming in the nation’s classrooms would arrive later rather than sooner.”

While, as I said above, I hadn’t heard of Mr. Linsin before reading this book, and this is the only one of his books that I have read, I appreciated his clear understanding of the problems teachers are facing. I understood many of his recommendations, but as mentioned in the review, I just don’t know how practical they are for the new, inexperienced teacher who is still trying to find his or her sea legs.

What I really liked about this book was its easy readability and the fact that he uses many anecdotes and little-known stories to illustrate the main point in each chapter. One of his main points is that teachers might learn a long-held principle that is referred to as the 80/20 rule. In its simplest form, the 80/20 rule states that 20 percent of results come from 80 percent of the causes. Linsin uses this rule to illustrate that it is possible to streamline curriculum and to narrow the focus of any particular lesson to one or two key points. This would eliminate extra, unnecessary planning. He also offers that teachers might cut down on some of their work at home if they streamline the assignments they give.

While these may be fine strategies for that experienced teacher that I mention in my Amazon review, I don’t think it is useful to the new teacher who hasn’t gained enough experience yet to discern what is okay to keep and what is okay to leave out. That kind of judgment only comes with experience.

I am also not certain that the suggestion that a teacher declines a lot of extra-curricular activity is practical for the newer teacher. Most administrators frown upon members of their faculties ignoring direct requests for help or assistance with after-school programs or evening meetings that members of the faculty are expected to attend. Again, this may be a fine strategy for the teacher who has reached a level of job security that stretches beyond the first few years, but a teacher on probation chooses to use this type of discretion at their own risk.

With all of that said, I enjoyed the book and the anecdotes, so I was entertained while I was also being offered some food for thought.

If you are already at the point of burnout, this book won’t help a lot, but then, there are not many books that can help once you have hit the point of no return. I am talking to more and more teachers who are just not having any fun and are grappling with what to do next professionally.

Perhaps the most gut-wrenching message I have received lately is the one left on my website as a comment:

“Hi Kitty,

I’m literally sitting in my school parking lot dreading the day…waiting for the last possible second to go in. I’ve been teaching for 17 years, and I’m trying to make it to 20. I asked one of my now retired principals as what to do. She said go to the doc and get some anxiety meds to get you through. I don’t want to take meds to get me through work. I feel stuck. I make decent pay and love the summers off, but there has to be something out there where I don’t have to deal with all this that is comparable…Help!”

The troubling thing is that I know many teachers who are on anxiety medication to make it through their day. What does that say about the state of our profession?

If you are feeling that kind of pain and anxiety, your health is at risk. That is the bottom line. Stress can and will make you sick, so at the very least, if you are struggling with the symptoms of burnout, you should learn what you need to do to take better care of yourself. Teachers are expected to give, and give, and give to the point of exhaustion or the sacrifice of their own well-being and family life. This is not a fair or viable expectation.

If you aren’t sure if your stress level is dangerously high yet, take advantage of a free stress assessment that I offer in my stress management workshops.

Answer each question honestly without analyzing. Just go with your first reaction to the question. If you wind up with 10 or more “yes” answers, you need to get help somewhere.

Life is simply too short to spend it wasted in any endeavor that doesn’t make you happy. Don’t wait until you are like the person who wrote me yesterday. By then, it is getting too late.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#1 Thing You Need To Know if You are Thinking about Changing Your Career

I am obsessed with the notion of being a “Career ‘Makeover’ Coach.”

I think the reason for this is that I want to help people who find themselves at a career crossroads figure out what they want to do that will be perfect for them because I think work to be fun and fulfilling!

I want people to be doing work that is in alignment with their core values.

I want them to be working in a career that taps into their unique gifts, talents, and aptitudes.

And I want them to be happy to go to work every day instead of dreading it.

I recently posted this message on my Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter pages:
If you hate Mondays

Photo by Shutterstock.com

It isn’t enough to know that you want to make a change, however. You have to know what you want to do to replace what you are already doing. 

Lack of clarity is the #1 problem I hear from most of the individuals with whom I meet on a regular basis. 

Along with a lack of clarity, however, is a misunderstanding around the purpose of your resume. Most people mistakenly think that the first thing they need to do when they are ready for a job change is to write their resume. They think they should sum up all of their qualifications from their entire working career and plop it in a resume that they then upload into a database and they wait for some magical combination of events that might land them a new job.

It doesn’t work like that anymore if it ever did.

Today, you must first decide what it is you want, get crystal clear about the direction you want to go, and THEN you are ready to write your resume making sure that your resume matches the job description for the job for which you are applying.

Most people don’t get that in the beginning, and that is why they struggle so with the whole process of job hunting. Few people really know what they are doing when they start out which is why people increasingly need some sort of professional help.Clarity…knowing what you want and then having the courage to go for it. That is the #1 thing you need to know before you start looking for a new job or a new career.

Read, journal, meditate, pray…do whatever you need to do in order to get in touch with yourself and consider what you want to be doing with the time you have left on the planet. Do you want to be working in job or career that is meaningless even though it may pay the bills? I think most of us would opt for less money, frankly, if they knew that they were doing work that was meaningful and would impact the lives of others in a positive way.

It isn’t just hype to consider that your work and your mission and purpose in life should be aligned. I happen to believe that it is why we are here. We don’t want to leave this life feeling that we didn’t make a difference to someone. It is in our DNA to want to leave a legacy.

What do you want yours to be?

Career and Passion

Photo by Shutterstock.com

Until next time.

Photos by Shutterstock.

For questions, contact me by email or call me at 804-404-5475.

 

It's Time for a New Job

Developing Healthy Habits for 2016

 

healthy habits

My mom used to say that if you had your health, you had everything you needed. She was a nurse, and she had seen people lose their health and subsequently lose jobs, families, and even their lives. She was a great proponent of preventative health care. She urged me to keep regular check ups with my doctors and my dentist. She also urged me to get vaccinations when recommended. To this day, with few exceptions, I follow her advice because I recognize the soundness of it.

Health is result of good genes to some degree, and as we get older, this is a factor, for sure. Another factor in health, however, is dependent upon whether or not you practice good health habits. Good health habits include eating for good nutrition, drinking recommended amounts of water, getting adequate and appropriate exercise, and so on.

During this time of year, with the Christmas holidays just behind us and the New Year just ahead of us, it is the time when we start to think in terms of fresh starts and New Year’s resolutions. Many of the most common resolutions are centered around health and fitness. I am certain that every fitness club on the planet is braced for an onslaught of new memberships that people will likely abandon almost as quickly as they sign up for them. That is a not a disaparagement…just a fact. Take a look at the graphic below to see why I make such a statement.

habits

Note that “85% of New Year’s resolutions fail by the first week.”

We don’t need to be resigned to bad health, however, just because creating new healthy habits is challenging. We just need to heed the two tips above, “Start slowly; Be consistent.”

I am starting a new program next week which I am calling “7 Months to 7 Healthier Habits for 2016.”  Click on the link for more information.

Are you as healthy as you would like to be? Consider:

  • Are you at your ideal weight?
  • Is your BMI (Body Mass Index) what you would like it to be?
  • Do you practice healthy eating habits regularly?
  • Do you drink the recommended amount of water most days?
  • Are you getting the exercise you need in order to be fit for your age and your current physical condition?

These are extremely important questions at any time of the year, but especially at this time. While everyone is thinking about making a “new start” in the New Year, why not think about how you might make 2016 a healthier year than last year?

If you have questions about the “7 Months to 7 Healthier Habits for 2016,” please let me know. I will be happy to work with you if you are interested in making this a healthier year ahead. In this program we will be working slowly and incrementally as we incorporate one new health habit a month for 7 months. In that way, the habits we create will last longer and by the end of July, 2016, we will be healthier, and if the adage is true, happier as well.

I invite you to join me.

Until next time.

 

 

5 Steps to a More Successful 2015

As you approach the New Year, you may be considering how you might change some of your less helpful habits—habits that are holding you back from being your “best” self. Or, perhaps you are thinking about which of your “bad” habits are preventing you from being happier, healthier, and more successful.

As a stress management coach, I offer specific strategies on how to manage and reduce stress in the lives of my clients. These strategies also help them become more resilient in the face of life’s inevitable challenges.

For the purposes of today’s message, I would like to focus on 5 steps that you can start taking today to take you to a better 2015:

1)  Make a decision. The first step you must take before making any change, much less maintaining a better habit, is actually to make the decision that you are going to change. You must first decide that you are going to change and maintain an improved habit (or habits) in the upcoming year. A decision is different from a wish, a hope, or a dream, and making a decision to change something in your life is the first step toward making any meaningful change that is likely to last.

2)  Change only one thing at a time. People don’t keep their New Year’s resolutions—and let’s face it, most don’t—because they overwhelm themselves with making a dozen “resolutions” when they need to focus on one change at a time. If you have multiple areas of your life where you want to make significant changes, you need to choose the top one that you feel is the most urgent to your health, happiness or success, and start there. If you try to make more than one change at a time, you are dooming yourself to failure before you even get started.

3)  Create S.M.A.R.T. goals. “S.M.A.R.T.” stands for “Specific, Measurable, Achievable (or Attainable), Relevant, and Timely (or Time Limited).” A habit is something that is deeply ingrained. You engage in the behavior in question automatically and without thinking. That’s why it is called a habit. There is no denying that habits are hard to break. If that weren’t the case, we would drop bad habits in a hurry with little effort, right? But habits are sneaky…they drive your actions through your subconscious. So turn changing the habit into a goal and then establish parameters around how and why you want to change by creating S.M.A.R.T. goal language around it.

4)  Write your goal on a piece of paper and refer to it daily. There is something about writing down a goal that makes it feel more achievable than when it is just rattling around in your head. Write down your goal and write it in terms that comport with the S.M.A.R.T. goals in #3. In addition, write down why you want to change this habit. If you are a smoker and you want to quit smoking, write down why you want to do that. Is it because you don’t want to be a poor role model for your kids? Is it because you are tired of your clothes smelling like a stale ashtray all the time? Whatever the reason for your making the decision to change your habit, write it down. Then, carry the paper with you so that when you are tempted to revert to the old habit—and you will be tempted many times—you can remind yourself of the reasons for wanting to make the change.

5)  Share your goal with others and/or get a coach if you need one to hold you accountable for your actions. There is something about sharing goals with other people that keeps you more honest than if you keep the goal to yourself. If you make a decision to lose ten pounds between New Year’s day and March 31, 2015, that is something you CAN do…it falls under the heading of something you can translate into a S.M.A.R.T. goal…and if you stick to the resolve you felt when you made the decision, it is definitely doable. There are going to be times, however, when you will feel tempted to go back to your old habits of eating poorly and not exercising enough to be successful. You will be tempted to give up. If you have shared your goal with someone else, you are far more likely to stick with it. You may choose a friend or a buddy who will hold you to your promise to yourself. Perhaps you could use a coach that you hire specifically for the purpose of helping you stay motivated and to keep you honest throughout the process.

I have participated in a program around setting goals for myself as a business woman for the New Year. One of the important distinctions that the program offered is one that I believe might be helpful to you as you enter 2015. That distinction is to remember that your past does not define your future. You may have tried to quit smoking before and failed. You may have attempted to lose ten pounds before and gave up because it got hard or was inconvenient or you just couldn’t stick to your resolve.

That was then…this is now…it is a new day. This time you CAN be successful! You must first make a decision that this time is different, however. Decide once and for all that whatever it is that you want to change is not only something you wish you could do or just want to do…decide that it is something you will do…no excuses…and then follow the other four steps offered above to get you there. Tackle one bad habit at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many changes at once. One habit at a time, one day at a time…you can do this. Happy New Year.

For more information about Kitty Boitnott at Boitnott Coaching, LLC, contact her at BoitnottCoaching.com and subscribe to her newsletter by opting in for the free stress management evaluation that is available on her website. Or, fill out the form below: