Updated: May 3
You are a teacher wanting to change careers. You have plucked up the courage to put yourself out there. You are applying for jobs that you know you have the skills and experience for, but you don’t even get an interview.
Firstly, let me say that you are certainly not alone in this. I hear this a lot with my coaching clients, but it is something that can be fixed. Read on to find out how.
It’s very likely that it’s your resume that’s letting you down. Unfortunately, the resume you’ve used to apply for teaching positions will not work outside of the educational field. It’s probably a good idea to start again rather than try to adapt your existing resume.
There are several things you need to focus on:
Change your LANGUAGE.
Educators use a specific vocabulary, that I’ll call ‘edu speak’, which isn’t commonly used in other industries. So, it is important to ‘translate’ your skills, achievements, and experience from ‘edu speak’ into the language of the career you are applying for and even the specific company.
Interestingly, I even found that ‘edu speak’ varies between countries. When I moved countries (both English speaking) I had difficulties in securing a teaching position, even though I had the right qualifications and experience, because my applications weren’t using the specific ‘edu speak’ of the new country.
When writing your resume analyse the job description and use the exact words of the job description. This will help if the company is using any sort of computerized application tracking system as those systems are programmed to look for specific words or terms. Your application won’t be read by a real person unless it meets the tracking system requirements. Also check the company website and LinkedIn profile for more language clues.
Make your Career Summary STAND OUT.
First impressions really do count and the top third of the first page of your resume is where you create that impression. It is very important that you grab the prospective employer or HR manager’s attention. They are busy people. A single job posting might attract thousands of resumes—imagine having to read through all of them to pick out the best-looking candidates?
And you can be certain that they don’t read all of every resume.
The career summary, which should be the first section after your contact details, will determine whether your resume gets read or put into the ‘not suitable’ pile!
So, to stand out from the crowd you must have a standout Career Summary section!
Three things you can do to make your Career Summary competitive:
1 Use key words from the job description
Don’t just send out the same resume with every application. Tailor each resume directly to the position you are applying for. Use exactly the same key words and key word phrases that are used in the job description. Yes, it is more time consuming for you to edit your resume for each different position you apply for.
If the job description asks for someone who is ‘a good communicator’ but your Career Summary says you have ‘good communication skills’ – which let’s face it, we all know is the same thing – you would be wise to use their exact language.
It shows the company you are speaking their language and will also get you past the applicant tracking system if the company uses one.
2. Describe your achievements using strong action words.
Action words are specific, they clarify your contributions, and bring a confident tone to your resume and list of accomplishments.
Replace the weak ‘held’ in this statement , ‘ Held weekly team meetings .’ with the stronger and more specific ‘ Initiated weekly team meetings to discuss……………….’
Try to avoid overused action words such as ‘managed’, ‘led’ or ‘responsible for’.
· Instead of managed a team try mentored, facilitated,
· replace led a project with co-ordinated, headed or oversaw.
3. Use results driven achievement statements
Create more impact with your achievement statement. Combine your selection of action verbs with quantifiable results to show both what you did and the effect it had by using this formula.
Action verbs + task + quantifiable results, - look at these examples:
Implemented change based on data and improved outcomes by 20%
Adapted resources and delivery method at short notice to meet the needs of a changing environment with a 100% success rate.
Understand your TRANSFERABLE SKILLS
Understanding your transferable skills is key to getting a job outside of the classroom. You may be like many teachers and think that the only thing you can do is teach. How wrong you are. Of course, teaching itself is a skill, a macro skill, that can be broken down into many separate skills for example, critical thinking, negotiation skills, judgement and decision making, project management, leadership skills.
Here is a small section of a resource I’ve created for my new online career course for teachers. I have left the 3rd and 4th column blank for you to drill down to specific skills and examples that are relevant to you and your situation.
Identifying your transferable skills
One way to do identify your specific skills, is to do an audit of what you do as a teacher every day. Divide your working day into 15-minute intervals (include all after hours work here too) and record exactly what you did during those 15 minutes. At the end of the day ‘translate’ those activities into a non-teaching skill.
Following these tips will help you to ‘translate’ your educational resume into a non-educational one. It will also help you to get attention to the Career Summary section of your resume and create that all important first impression. Remember to think about how you can edit it to make it specific to each different position you apply for.
Get some help
There are 3 things you can do depending on which stage of the career change process you are at.
1. You are wondering if career change is the right decision for you, or you want some one to one support to move forward you can book an obligation free call with me here. You can also download this free guide Alternative Careers for Teachers to get you thinking about your career choices.
2. You are keen to get started with your career change but have no idea how to go about it? You are not alone. Many teachers are telling me that they want to leave teaching but don't know what kind of jobs are available for them. If you are overwhelmed by the career choices or have no idea what you are able to do or want to do, I have the perfect solution for you. Getting Started with Career Change for Teachers is a short, very affordable, step by step course to help you narrow down your options to find a meaningful career that allows you to be the best version of yourself. Learn more and enrol here.
3. You've identified your new career and you are ready to start applying for jobs. It's been a long time since you've applied for jobs and you know your teaching resume is not going to work in the non teaching world. You'd like to know how to write a resume that will get you a non teaching job. I've got you covered. Resumes and Cover Letters for Teachers will give you all the information you need to write your own resume. I've even included templates. Check it out here.