One of the most challenging parts of switching careers from teaching is identifying your next career path. You probably feel overqualified, under-qualified, or just simply have too many job titles in mind to even really feel like you can start researching or moving on to the very next steps.
If you feel completely overwhelmed by this task, just know that you are not alone. And that is why I brought on career clarity expert Emily Schultz to come share her tips for teachers who are feeling pulled in all of these different directions.
Emily is a former teacher herself and she has recruiting experience for her full-time role, but she also works on team Teacher Career Coach as our career clarity and interview coach for our Teacher Career Coach Course members. Listen in as I ask Emily all the top questions about how to find your next path in a career outside of teaching.
Getting Clear on Your Career Path with Emily Shultz
Hey, Emily. Thank you so much for being here today.
Oh, you’re welcome. I’m super excited to come on. Long time fan, first time caller.
Hilarious. So I know that I already did the intro, everyone already heard it, but Emily actually works on team Teacher Career Coach, so one of my favorite team members. For those of the audience members who have never heard of you or worked with you before, I’d love if you could share a little bit about your backstory and your career experience even outside of the classroom.
Well, thanks so much for having me on again, Daphne. And I am a former classroom teacher. I taught for seven years for Chicago Public Schools and for four years for Portland Public schools in a variety of grade levels, but mostly middle school language arts and social studies.
I did have a couple years there in fourth grade. That was really interesting and different. And I transitioned out of the classroom last October and I’m currently a corporate recruiter. I’m an internal recruiter, which means that I recruit for my company and only for my company.
And I’m what you call a full life cycle recruiter, which means I take candidates from the beginning of the process all the way through to the end. So I’m posting job descriptions, I look at resumes, I look at people’s LinkedIns. I call and do recruiter screens.
I bring those candidates to the hiring manager, get them through the interview process and then offer at the end. And if I post a role that’s not getting a lot of traction, I also go out on LinkedIn and look for passive candidates and source candidates that way and send them messages via LinkedIn.
This is one of the main reasons why I have you working as a career clarity coach for team Teacher Career Coach. We always have these discussions about who is qualified for writing our resumes, for handling these types of one-on-one conversations with teachers who are looking to transition.
And for me, just being a former teacher who worked at Microsoft and worked at GoGuardian in these really cool roles at these really great companies didn’t make me necessarily qualified to help coach other people through the process because I was never at that point in my career, a stakeholder in the actual hiring process.
You are full time basically a stakeholder in the hiring process. I’d love to hear a little bit about, I know you’ve described it as you’re almost like a spy for a candidate. What does that look like for you in this role?
So and I forgot to mention at the end of that, that’s my day job. And then by night I’m a career clarity coach for Teacher Career Coach. So like you said, I’m seeing the process as it’s happening in real time every single day. I work with hiring managers in every part of the company and for every type of role, I work on tech and non-tech roles.
So everything from senior DevOps engineer roles to inside sales representative and customer service type roles. So all different types of roles. And in fact, some roles that former teachers might actually be qualified for. And in my role as a recruiter, I talk to so many candidates every single day.
I might see things in their resume that they could do to boost hits that they’re getting or get more calls back or more recruiter screens if they added certain keywords. I talk to hiring managers about their interviews and how those went and how candidates came across.
So I’m getting real time feedback of in 2022, looking for a job, what needs to be on your resume, what do you need to prepare for an interview, what are things that you could say to impress a hiring manager or on the flip side to really turn a hiring manager off to you as far as being a candidate.
So I have this whole hiring lens, but then I also have this lens as a former classroom teacher of the skills that we have, the things that we’ve been asked to do in our careers that might be transferable to other roles, finding sort of those little nuggets of information that would be great to pull out in future interviews or to put on your resume or to fully flush out and own I think.
I talk to a lot of teachers who’ve done some really incredible things and important things in their roles as classroom teachers that they never had a special title for, they didn’t get paid extra for, but they did these things. And those are the things that matter and those are the things that carry currency in the corporate world.
And they’re just expected in a school setting and you sort of forget about them because you’re surviving day to day, just getting your lessons ready, teaching students or running a library or running a music program. You’re just trying to survive day to day. And you may forget, “Hey, I was actually on the hiring committee for my most recent administrator.” And that’s absolutely something that you want to include when you’re speaking about your experience.
That was such a great point of what you were saying when it came to all of the different roles that teachers have and they don’t remember to put it on their resume. In a corporate environment, those are the types of extra things that people are doing in order to get a raise or a promotion.
They’re doing it and they’re keeping track. They’re keeping notes of, this is what I’m doing because I know that this is going to go good on paper. But teachers are just thrown these extra responsibilities and these extra roles and they never know to actually write them down and that they carry value with them when you’re actually applying for other roles.
Another thing that I wanted to touch on from a hiring perspective is the differences in just the hiring process in general. Do you see a lot of differences in the way that corporate world hires as compared to the education world?
It is wildly different. I almost wish, and I said this before, I almost wish I could go back to my job search before I knew what I know now to redo my job search and maybe have multiple offers on the table. It’s a different ball game completely. When you are applying for a teaching position, you know that you have the qualifications, you have the certifications for what you’re applying for.
And you know if you apply, you’re most likely going to get an interview. And there can be multiple reasons for that, but it’s pretty cut and dry. I have an English certification in middle school, I’m applying for a middle school’s position and they need an English certification.
The odds are pretty much likely that I’m going to get a call back and I’m going to get an interview. Especially now with what’s going on with the teacher shortage, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get a call back.
And I think because we spend our careers in education, a lot of us know people who know people who know people at this school or at this district, so doing that type of networking is also easier and more likely to get us an interview with someone, with a principal or administrator that’s going to hire us.
In the corporate world, it’s a different set of rules. There’s different spaces. LinkedIn is used heavily. You need to have a LinkedIn to network, to have an online presence, to learn about jobs, to message people you’re connected to when you do apply for a job. And even things like a recruiter screen, that’s not something that you encounter when you are applying for teaching positions.
You might have that hiring manager or that principal calling you directly and speaking to you from the beginning of the hiring process. Whereas in the corporate world, there’s probably going to be someone that you need to speak with before you even get in front of that hiring manager.
I personally had never even worked with recruiters before I became a recruiter myself. And that was new to me as well. I had a couple jobs outside of teaching before I became a teacher back when I was still in college, but that was back in the day where you could go on Craigslist and apply for a job and somebody would be printing out all the resumes and putting them in a pile of yes, no, and maybe.
And again, you might even get a phone call from that hiring manager directly who would be speaking with you. And that was a different hiring process. Now you’re probably going to speak to someone like a recruiter before you actually get to that hiring manager.
So there’s different rules of play, if you will, that don’t apply to teaching, the teaching hiring process at all. Teaching hiring is also different dependent on where you get a role. They might have you do a demo lesson, whereas other roles, they’re not going to ask you to do something like that.
One other difference that I’ve noticed is just the timeline can vary from company to company. It can take two or three weeks for you to go through the entire process and actually be hired at a company if they need someone desperately and it’s a really short interview process or it can take three or four months depending on if it’s a five step process and it goes through different projects.
They ask you to get seen by different departments while they’re interviewing you. And that’s something that’s really discouraging for teachers learning all the ins and outs of navigating this entire transition process is not knowing how long the actual interview itself is going to take.
And a lot of times, that’s due to things that are going on beyond the hiring manager or recruiters control. Also, there’s sometimes jobs that are held up or on pause, potentially even paused indefinitely while they have candidates inside the interview process. Have you ever seen anything like that happen on the other end?
More times than I can count. And there’s so many changes and so many things that go on behind the scenes that candidates don’t necessarily know and don’t consider. And we’re not always at liberty to discuss that or to explain maybe why we’ve had to put a role on hold.
But we’ve had positions closed due to the economy, we perhaps had a hiring manager decide, “I’m going to change the scope of this role” or “I’m going to add a couple qualifications for this role that we didn’t add before so we’re going to start back at the beginning. We’re going to go back to the drawing board and get a new batch of candidates.”
Maybe a hiring manager has even said, “This role is remote, but my preference is that we find a candidate who’s in this specific time zone so it’s easier for them to make meetings.” And there’s just so many different factors that it’s hard to go into the application process and continuously remind yourself, “If I don’t get a call back or I don’t get a response, that doesn’t mean that I’m not qualified or that doesn’t mean that I can’t do this or I can’t make this transition.”
You may be one of 185 people that have applied for a role. And when you look at those numbers, you may be fully qualified, but there just may not be enough space or enough positions for every single qualified person to get that role.
And there’s always going to be an opportunity around the corner and there’s always an opportunity for growth to help you stand out a tiny bit more the next time or a tiny bit more the next time. So I know that when I was applying for roles, there were some that were really competitive even back four or five years ago.
Things are more competitive now than ever before and it can get really discouraging. But there are a lot of roles out there. And anyone who’s listening, there is definitely a role out there for you. I wanted to pivot a little bit.
From your experience from recruiting, but also because of your great experience recruiting, your position at Teacher Career Coach is you do career clarity coaching and you also do interview coaching. Today I wanted to bring you on to specifically talk about your work as our career clarity coach.
It is just so challenging to pick a new role outside of teaching for so many reasons. There are so many of our audience members who are probably right now open to 10 different roles or only open to one very specific role. And I know that there are just so many people who struggle with this step.
For those teachers in the audience who are potentially interested in every position out there, I mean, project management and sales, curriculum writing, UX design, what advice would you give to them to help them narrow down one or two choices?
I always say there’s two huge categories when it comes to roles. And that’s a good way to start thinking about it, people facing roles and paper facing roles. You might want to think to yourself, am I someone who is really energized by being around people and with people and working on a team, or am I someone who likes to work on a screen or behind the scenes doing my own thing?
And that’s a good way to narrow down your options from the get-go. I also advise people to start to get curious because there are so many roles for former teachers where they meet the basic qualifications. That leaves so many options open. And sometimes too many options can be overwhelming.
I really counsel people to stay curious and start asking the people around them in their lives, their family members, their friends about what they do at work, what they like about their roles, about their career trajectories, to think about possible roles that they could go into.
Obviously Teacher Career Coach has a lot of great resources for that, but sometimes it may take speaking to someone who’s actually in a role that you are thinking about to see if that’s something that you’d like to do. And that’s where that cold networking piece can come in.
Reaching out to someone on LinkedIn who’s in a role that you’d really like to get into is a good idea. But there’s also getting back to basics approach. Even Googling a day in the life of whatever it is that you’re looking into is something that I recommend.
I remember I had a mentor when I was starting recruiting through the company I started with and was talking to him about, “Well, how do you recruit on this role when you may not know anything about this role?” He said, “Oh Emily, I just YouTube it. I Google what does it look like to be a DevOps engineer?”
And that kind of, not blew my mind, but just reminded me that if you don’t know much about a role or it sounds interesting, just going back to the basics and doing some basic research on what that role looks like is something that you shouldn’t forget to do.
I love what you said about people facing versus paper facing roles. I don’t feel like you’ve ever brought up that phrase around me and I [inaudible 00:16:27]
I say it in all my coaching sessions.
So obviously I need to sit in more coaching sessions. But I love that phrase. And one thing that it reminds me of is I was talking to a former teacher before who was listening to kind of all of the other outside voices. It’s so easy to hear what everybody else is wanting to do for a job and think that that’s the right fit for you.
So this is something as general, not even a specific job duty, but she was super focused on, “I have to be remote. I have to have this position remote.” And I was asking what was it about the remote that she really needed? A lot of people have, “I want more flexibility, I want more autonomy.”
And when we were getting into what did you really like, what did you not like, when she ended up getting in an actual remote position, she felt completely isolated because she did not realize how much being around colleagues physically actually brought energy to her on a daily basis.
And she ended up not really liking a remote position because she wasn’t reflecting on, “I actually really did that, like that collaboration piece of seeing people in person.” Even if you don’t like the PD in front of you, you might like that physical interaction with people that you have and that might invigorate you.
And if you are a person that realizes that that’s part of your job that lights you up, you might be looking for something hybrid or potentially more of a training position where you would be going in front of people or a sales position where you would have at least more human interactions than something that’s remote and a little bit more in a silo.
And I like what you said about what lights you up because that just makes me, I’m thinking back and reflecting on all my coaching sessions. And there is a moment almost like the light bulb moment in students where you see them get it. There is a moment in those coaching sessions where somebody starts talking about something that lights them up. And we all have that.
We all have something that gives us that spark. And it’s really thinking about, here are all the, we think a lot about these are the aspects of what I do that I don’t like, that I don’t want to do. But we really need to challenge ourselves to think about what are the parts that do light me up, that do keep me going, that do motivate me.
For me personally, relationships was my favorite part of the job and it really lit me up and excited me to know 145 sixth graders by name and know pieces of information about them and build those relationships. And I thought to myself, “Well, where’s a job where I can do that but not have to give a presentation for six hours every single day Monday through Friday?”
And I was talking to friends and family and I actually had my mother-in-law who knows me better than a stranger off the street said, “Hey, have you ever thought about recruiting? Why don’t you try that?” And that’s another reason that I think too to talk to friends and family, not only about their jobs, but these are people that know you really well and maybe they could pinpoint those things that they can tell bring you joy in life and light you up.
It’s hard for us to acknowledge where our own strengths are too, when we’re in a really low confidence… I don’t want to say area of our life, but a low confidence phase of our life. After being beaten down by potentially parents or toxic administration, we may not realize that we are good at organizing data or articulating our thoughts in written form or articulating our thoughts in giving presentations or graphic design or whatever it is that used to light us up.
We may need outside forces to help bring us back up to no, that is somewhere where you really shine. That is somewhere where you can spend six or seven hours and kind of fall into a work little rabbit hole. Those are the things to really focus on, what parts of teaching did you feel like you could sit and do for four or five hours and time flew by and you forgot about time?
And that might be something like writing curriculum. But there are jobs that so many teachers are open to that sound like on paper they’re going to be a good fit. And then once they do reflect on, “Oh wait, I actually don’t sitting down and writing lesson plans out. I would not like to be a curriculum writer because that wasn’t something that sparked joy.”
Once you start to do those really deep reflection activities, you can start to narrow out some of the different jobs that other people are doing that just aren’t a great fit for you. Have you ever specifically worked with a teacher, Emily, that was interested in a path and then after speaking with you she was or he was able to cross it off their list as just not a good fit?
Absolutely. And I think what’s nice about the career clarity sessions are they’re individualized and everybody has such a different situation. I have had people come to me and say, “Oh hey, I want to get into this specific area that requires…” It does require some upskilling. You can’t simply go from classroom teacher to this type of role.
And when I sat and explained, you actually need to learn, it’d be best to learn this type of software, that type of software before you even apply for roles like that. Meanwhile, they’re on a timeline of, “I’d like to transition as soon as possible.” So I think sort of realizing limitations.
I’ve also spoken, I think more frequently instead of a mismatch between what they thought they wanted and what they’ve talked with me about, I see a lot more of roles that they may have never considered or never even heard of.
Because I’m out in the hiring world and I am hiring for all different types of roles, I now have recruiter friends and my own recruiter network and I’m seeing the roles that they’re hiring for, I definitely see more of people coming to me for the career clarity, who are learning about roles that they never heard of that they think would be interesting for them.
I’m thinking right now of one success story. And if you’re out there and I’ve coached you, please let me know when you land that role because these are the things that keep me going and really fill my cup up and are so rewarding for me. But this specific teacher found a role that was kind of a mix up.
She really had sort of an artistic creative side to her, but also had that editing piece and that project management and coordination skills and that ability to stay organized. And I said, “Well, have you ever considered this specific role?” And I gave her a title that she had never heard of before. And it was one that I’ve recruited on in the past. And she actually ended up landing a role with that specific title.
I feel like that was within the first month too. I remember…
How excited we were when you got that email. One thing that I heard you talk about that I wanted to circle back around on is having someone with experience outside of teaching can help you narrow out if you are in a hardcore time focus, they can help you narrow down the jobs that are maybe a little bit easier, like stepping stone positions to get your foot in the door.
Or the ones that maybe they’re a little bit more higher paying, maybe they’re a great long term goal, but they will take a little bit more upskilling. And unless you do that homework, unless you sit down and focus on what does the job description say, what are the platforms that I really need? Unless you talk to people in those roles, you’re going to have a list of all these technology tools.
And if you are not doing the homework, you might see tools like Trello or SurveyMonkey and think that they’re as intimidating as Articulate Storyline. And they are, for me, Trello and SurveyMonkey are things that are used in corporate environments that you could learn in 30 minutes time if you needed to talk about it in an interview.
Where Articulate Storyline is a month or two of really hardcore focus on learning that technology tool. Have you had those types of discussions with teachers as well about which tools are easier to just upscale super quick?
No, I’ve absolutely had those discussions. And just in general, I do have people come to me making a lot of assumptions about a bunch of different roles. And I think we need to remember a lot of us teachers, we state we’re lifelong learners and we need to stick with that as far as instead of making an assumption that this is exactly what a role will be, this is exactly what it’s like, staying curious and asking those questions.
One example I always give is that idea of student teachers. I think in explaining a lot of the things that happen in hiring and in career transition, I just find myself going back to teaching examples because that’s my background knowledge, that’s where I come from, that’s a space I really felt comfortable in and knowledgeable about.
But I think about student teachers and how there’s different types of student teachers that come into the field. There’s those who come in and maybe had great scores in their practicum, straight A students and they know everything about education and they know exactly what they’re going to do to come in and change the system and gain students attention.
And they already have a set idea of what they’re going to do in the classroom. And then there’s the student teacher that comes in and is like a sponge, that stays ever curious and is asking, “Well, why did you do that? How would you organize this lesson? Or how do you group students? What made you make that specific decision? Or how did you come up with an idea for this unit?”
So staying curious and open and learning from those who have been in the field before them, before making their own assumptions and deciding on something. So I guess, I liken that to someone coming into a new field. You want to stay curious, you want to ask someone who’s actually done that job before, if you can get access to them. And you want to be learning instead of having an idea in your mind of what a career is like and what the day to day is going to be like. Did that answer the question?
Yeah. That was such a great example too. And it makes me think a little bit about even just teaching in general. So think of a third grade teacher. And a third grade teacher at a school with the gifted and talented cluster and a higher income area in Los Angeles is going to be focusing on different types of day to day activities than a third grade teacher who might be in the middle of nowhere and barely has any wifi.
There might be a private school where the third grade teacher has a completely different demographic that they work with. And all of these different teachers on paper all have the exact same job, but they all are going to have completely different experiences.
Depending on their personalities, they’re going to have different opinions of their experiences. And you can’t take that one person’s story of, “I’m a third grade teacher and this is what being a third grade teacher is like” as the end all rule for all third grade teachers. And that’s the exact same thing with a customer success manager.
If you’ve seen one customer success manager say, “This is what my job duties are,” it isn’t every customer success manager at every company or everyone’s opinion of that role. And then also, I love that you talked about just different people’s opinions as well.
Think about if you have a family member who said, “Oh, I know so and so, and they were in this one role and they didn’t like it,” try and get curious what about it was it that they didn’t like. Because just because it wasn’t a great fit for them doesn’t mean it’s not a great fit for you.
We’re not trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole here, but it’s important to not just let your fear red flag every career so that you don’t move forward with trying any career. Because that’s what your brain is going to try and get you to do, to protect you from any external factors that are potentially going to bring in the feeling of stress that you’re already feeling right now and it’s just going to try and red flag you from everything out there.
Yeah. And I love my coaching sessions. Just in general, getting to know these teachers and administrators from all around the country is great, but I learn things too. I had somebody in a coaching session the other day, I said, “It seems to me like you’re thinking of worst case scenarios like, what if this fails, what if I don’t like it?” And she’s like, “But you can always flip that around, what if it succeeds, what if you absolutely love it, what if it’s the best decision that you’ve ever made?” So changing your mindset, that really, really helps as well.
I feel like I could have this conversation with you for forever, but I do have to end the podcast at some moment. But Emily, before I say goodbye, I always ask all of my former teachers this question and you don’t know that this is coming unless you’ve listened and done your homework to every podcast episode that I’ve done.
So this is a good test of whether or not you listen. When you left teaching and you got the recruiting role and then you started working for Teacher Career Coach, you’ve gone through all of these different transformations. What have you learned about yourself during this process?
I guess, I’ve learned my capacity for change and learning and growth. I know that I’m naturally resistant to change and I love routines and I love knowing everything that I need to know, but I think this has shown me that I can stretch and I can grow and I can learn how to do something new and I can become an expert at something else and I can do something else and bring value. And that I bring value to anything that I do and anything that I put my time and energy into.
I couldn’t have said it better about you. You are such a treasure. I am so happy that our paths crossed when they did and just all of the value that you bring to this team. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I am just so grateful for you and happy that you’re here.
Thank you so much, Daphne.
I want to give a huge thank you to Emily for coming on and sharing all of her advice with this audience. Now while many of our course members use the Teacher Career Coach Course resources and private community to make the transition entirely on their own, there are always going to be people who know that they just prefer to talk it out with a human.
That’s why I have hired resume writers and career coaches and experts in interviewing and career clarity to work with our course members for an additional one-on-one service. For those people who know that they want that extra bit of support, we currently only offer these optional services for our course members.
So you do have to be enrolled in the Teacher Career Coach course before you can sign up. You can find out more about the Teacher Career Coach course at www.TeacherCareerCoach.com/course. Thank you so much for listening to the Teacher Career Coach podcast and we’ll see you on next week’s episode.