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.
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.
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.