If you have been in the classroom for more than five years, you may be approaching the job hunt from a very traditional perspective.
For better or worse, in the 21st century, your successful job hunt is likely to occur online. Most every industry advertises, interviews, and hires through the internet. That means that you will need to have a basic comfort level in navigating websites, writing emails, sending PDF resumes, and maintaining a professional web presence.
Even if you are completely new to the job hunt, here are a few tips to catch you up on the basics:
Learning How to Network
Networking can be an intimidating activity for many professionals. Chances are very high that the past few months (or years) of your life have been invested in staying sane and staying on top of your workload, not in making networking connections with alumni, coworkers, and coworker’s spouses.
But the good news is that networking is just a fancy word for knowing people and having people know you. Networking happens year round and year after year – there is no one time that everyone networked and if you weren’t there you are late to the party. It’s as simple as going online and looking up an organization or school and showing up for (possibly free) drinks and appetizers.
While networking can be an uncomfortable, forced affair, it doesn’t have to be. In the end, it is just a code-word for meeting people, exchanging information, and helping each other out!
By far the best way to network is to use connections at your alma mater. Do a web search for “your town + your college” and see what comes up. Often, colleges have strong alumni associations within an hour’s drive that will host events and introduce you to new people.
If you don’t have an alma mater nearby or at all, you’re still okay! Just get out and do something. Volunteer at the library or for a local downtown area’s upcoming festival. Get online to meet people (safely) through networking organizations like Linked In, MeetUp, or Facebook (though of course, please be careful to not share personal information or meet anyone alone!).
Establishing a Web Presence
The internet is a wide-reaching and often scary thing. Instead of hiding from it, be proactive about your online presence. Join Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn and make professional pages. You don’t have to turn into an overnight social media specialist, but having a standard photo and color on each page will go a long way to making you look professional.
If you are so inclined, purchase your name in a domain name and set up a simple, professional landing page so that if an employer searches the web for you, something under your control shows up.
Here are a few great resources that take a small time investment but can give you a professional online presence:
- About.Me – Create a quick, interesting online business card.
- Re.Vu – Type in your resume stats, customize the format and colors and make something unique to showcase your skills.
- WordPress.Com – Free blog platform that you can manipulate to make a simple web page.
When your resume, cover letter, home office, and web presence are ready, head over to the hot job boards below to search for job titles and keywords.
Using Job Hunt Websites
On most of these websites you can also set an alert for new jobs with certain key words, so the internet can be working for you even when you are not actively searching.
When you begin your search on each website, maximize your return with the following tips:
- Break down your search query into basic nouns. Training becomes train. Teaching becomes teach. You want your query to look for key words in the job descriptions, not just specific titles. The same goes for the job title: content management coordinator and content management strategist could be the same position, so just search content management, or better yet just content.
- Widen your search location. Instead of Alexandria, VA, look for the DC/Metro Area. Instead of a small town on the outskirts of a big city in Texas, look at Austin or Houston. Big cities are big cities for a reason – people move there for jobs. It is also easier to find positions that offer teleworking opportunities this way.
Were these tips helpful? Access the full version by clicking on the image above, or visit www.LifeAfterTeaching.com.
As a teacher making the brave leap into the corporate or nonprofit world, it may have been a while since your last interview.
Don’t worry, even though a lot has changed, the basics still ring true: be pleasant, courteous, and honest, and give it your best shot.
If you find that that doesn’t quite alleviate your fears, here are a few things you can do to take advantage of human nature and psychology during your interview:
- Wear red. Not all red, mind you, but use it as a prominent accent in the form of a tie, scarf, or shoes, etc. Red is a power color that conveys responsibility and confidence. On the other hand, people who wear green are viewed as not trustworthy, and yellow gives you a headache if you look at it too long.
- Wear black, navy, or grey. If your interview outfit is a suit or simply dress pants, any three of these standard business colors will make you look like you belong in an office setting.
- Shake hands. Half the purpose of an in-person interview is to make sure you would be a pleasant, productive addition to the staff. A solid handshake with eye contact, and maybe even a good-natured laugh is the first step in building a rapport and showing that you’ll be a friendly (and competent!) person to work with.
- Look at it differently. Few people actually enjoy going to job interviews. But what if someone wanted to interview you about your opinions and views on the world and then publish it? Kind of a different story, yes? See what you can do to play mind games with yourself and view the interview as an opportunity to share your perspective with a fellow human being. At the very least, this might put you in the right headspace to provide thoughtful, insightful answers instead of answering from a place of fear.
- Send a note. Remember every name you ever came across and send a handwritten note to thank them for their time. Not only will this make you appear very considerate to the interviewing board, but it has the added benefit of showing consideration to the people who took a risk and took their time to talk to you about your fit in the position.
The #1 Interview Tip for Transitioning Teachers
Finally, the #1 thing you can do to stand apart in the interview? Embrace the facts about your situation.
The person you’re interviewing with will be naturally curious about your decision to transition from the field of teaching into another field. Instead of ignoring that fact, embrace it by clearly outlining your reasoning, experiences, and factors in your decision.
If you had a good experience but you’re ready for a new challenge, say so! If you had a negative experience, take time to reflect on what you learned and how you’ve grown as a result. Then share your new perspective with the interviewer and have an honest discussion. That’s how you get the job!
Have you ever successfully transitioned into a new field? What made your interview go smoothly?
Want more teacher-specific job transition tips? Click through the image above or visit www.LifeAfterTeaching.com for the full version!