Have you heard the quote Jack of all trades master of none?
When I left teaching and started coaching a few years ago I was trying to attract anyone and everyone. I thought that if I cast my net wide enough, I would catch some fish, but the reality was that my message was so general it appealed to no one.
All the business courses I was doing or the books I was reading talked about finding a niche and targeting a small well-defined group of clients. I resisted this for quite some time because I thought my way was better and I just needed some time and more effort to make it work.
But no matter how much effort I put in, I still found it very difficult to get any coaching clients or even people to join my community. I eventually decided to give this niche thing a try. I decided to focus only on teachers who wanted to change career or who were looking for a purpose in retirement.
Now I have a Facebook Group of 11 K members and an email list of 3500 + followers. So, I think you’ll agree getting focused and specific about who I wanted to attract to my business has worked.
So why am I telling you this?
I am hearing about so many disheartened teachers who are applying for 60 or even 100+ positions and not even getting interviews. I see many teachers randomly applying for a whole range of jobs without giving it too much thought. This sort of scattergun approach is not only exhausting but also ineffective.
I know how tempting it is to apply for anything and everything in the hope that something will work. But just like me, if you’re trying to talk to everyone, you’re talking to no-one. When you get specific and focused the application process becomes a whole lot easier.
Do some groundwork BEFORE you start applying for jobs
Just like a building needs a foundation before the rest can be built, so does the career change process.
The approach that I use with teachers in my career change coaching and my online courses involves putting a pause on sending out applications until you have got really clear on who you are, what you want and what you can offer your new career. It’s only once you’ve done that work that you should begin to research careers that will work for you.
1. Set some initial broad goals?
1. Do I want to find a new career in education but not teaching? or
2. Do I want a complete career change?
3. When do I want this to happen by?
And don’t worry unlike the building metaphor, nothing is set in concrete.
Whichever option you’ve chosen ask yourself “ Why do I want to follow that pathway?, How will it make me feel?”
2. Identify your transferable skills
This is one of the most important things you can do. It is often the case that teachers continue teaching because that is ‘all’ they think they can do. Many times, I have heard teachers say, “I am ‘just’ a teacher”. The reality, of course, is that teachers are highly qualified, multi-skilled professionals who have many transferable skills. The key to a successful career change is firstly to recognize the skills that you have and how they relate to careers outside the classroom.
As a teacher, these are just some of the skills you will bring to your new career.
· skilled time managers
· highly organised yet also flexible and adaptable
· able to organise and motivate teams
· strong leaders
· able to express themselves clearly and concisely
· lifelong learners
· able to work with multiple stakeholders -students, parents, colleagues
If you do an audit of how you spend your day, you will come up with many more.
Identifying you Transferable Skills will not only help you find a career that suits you but will also make it easier when you convert your teacher resume to a non teaching one .
3. Work out exactly what’s important to you.
What are your core values? What is your purpose? What’s your passion?
What do you want your career to provide you with both professionally and practically?
These are some big questions that will help you to understand yourself better.
Your core values are the guiding principles by which you live your life. In the work context they are the values that motivate you and help you feel fulfilled. If you no longer feel the satisfaction from teaching that you once had, it might because of the changes in education which no longer align with your values.
One of my favourite definitions of values comes from Brene Brown she defines a value as “ a way of being or believing that you hold most important” she says that when you live according to your values you “ walk your talk” and are clear about what you believe and hold important in your life.
From a more practical perspective what are your needs and wants from your career? What working conditions would you like? Where would you like to be? How much do you want to be paid? Are you prepared to compromise? Which of these are negotiable or non-negotiable?
What are your values and how do they align with your career? What will make your career meaningful and fulfilling? What working conditions would you like? What other practical factors are important? Is anything non negotiable?
4. Identify if there is anything likely to get in your way and derail your plans (and deal with it)
Changing careers is a big step. It takes a lot of courage to move out of your comfort zone into something unknown. Our unconscious mind is designed to protect us and if it sees us going off down a strange path, it is likely to put all sorts of obstacles in the way to stop us, as a kind of self-protection mechanism to keep us safe.
Maybe you’ve tried to make changes before but haven’t succeeded. That’s why it’s important to work out if there is anything getting in your way and clear it out.
If you don’t you will find it difficult to move forward.
These are some examples of obstacles:
Time - it takes too long, I’m too busy to even think about it,
Motivation – it’s too hard, I don’t have the energy,
Fear – It won’t work, I’ll end up unemployed, I’m afraid of doing something different, I’m too old.
Guilt – I’ll be letting the school/children/parents down, I spent a lot of time and money studying to be a teacher-I can’t waste all of that, I always wanted to be a teacher
Confidence – I’m just a teacher, I’m not good enough, I don’t have the right qualifications, I only know about education.
Do you recognize any of these? You’ll not be surprised to learn that most of these obstacles are based on fear. Fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, fear of judgement are some of the fears that can hold us back.
5. Identify some possible career options
Based on the information you’ve gathered in answer to questions 2 -4 make a list of career options that might fit. Research these options in depth and narrow down your list to 1 or 2 options.
With this strategy you will get focused and specific about the best career options for you. You will easily be able to identify one or two careers that would be ideal for you and focus on just those careers confident in your skills and abilities and the value you can offer to a new employer.
As a result, you’ll be able to send out a targeted, customized resume that won’t need rewriting for each position you apply for. It’ll also allow you to find, connect and network with people on LinkedIn who may be able to help you with suggestions for upskilling or help you make other connections.
When you have a clear goal in mind, your career research will be targeted, efficient and effective. It’ll save you time and effort. You’ll be able to customize your resume so that it speaks to the right person, using their language. You’ll no longer be trying to talk to everyone but being heard by no one.
When you work with me, either in person or independently by doing my online courses you will:
• Get clear on your goals and vision
• Understand your transferable skills
• Work out exactly what’s important to you
• Work out what’s getting in your way.
• Get clarity on your career options and pathways
If you’d like to find out more about my one-to-one coaching packages you can book an obligation free call with me here.(if the times don’t work in your time zone send me an email with suggested times)
If you prefer to work on your own, I currently have available a short introductory online course – Getting Started with Career Change for Teachers. It covers all of the things I’ve mentioned above and is a great way to reduce the overwhelm and get you focused on what’s important. Find out more and enrol here.