In this episode, Daphne talks about how to sift through career advice on the internet and focus on what is good and timely for your career transition journey.
Daphne talks about her experience looking to others for advice when overwhelmed
Anytime I have a huge decision to make or a project that I am new at, I often get multiple opinions and lean on the expertise of others who have done it before me to help save me time. Seeking advice from mentors and researching is such an important part of making informed decisions. But it is absolutely possible to have too much of a good thing. I’m going to use a personal example right now. So my husband and I are in the middle of a project, where we’re ripping out all of our grass in our front yard, to put an California native drought tolerant plant. This is a big and overwhelming project. We’ve never owned a house before, we’ve never done like construction before. And we want help from people who have done it in the past or who are just better than us at this type of work.
But there are a lot of people with opinions on what we should and should not be doing, and it can get really overwhelming and pull us in a lot of different directions. The phrase, too many cooks in the kitchen, is often used to describe a situation where there are just too many people involved in a decision making process. This can happen a lot in your life. Often in big milestone moments like having a wedding or being offered unsolicited parenting advice. Sometimes you seek out advice and then realize once it’s too much, it’s just too late. You got too many people involved and you’re now completely overwhelmed. Sometimes the people that you’re inviting in are going to give you conflicting advice and you know who you can take the advice from with like a grain of salt.
For example, in my situation. Some of my neighbors walk by when we’re outside remodeling, and we can tell we’re probably going to have a too many cooks in the kitchen moment, and they’re going to tell us to put all of our grass back, and do something that’s not aligned with what even our project goals are. So we just take their advice with a grain of salt. The reason why I’m telling you all of this is because many teachers are struggling with this feeling right now. Due to there is just too much noise sharing what to do, what not to do, all involving their career transition. There is so much conflicting advice and unfortunately, just plain old bad or made up career advice that is making your career change harder than it needs to be.
It’s easy for me on my end, to differentiate what is good, solid, practical advice, what’s just a difference in opinion, what’s a distraction, and what is just like totally bad made up terrible advice because I have five years of experience working in this type of industry. But to be honest, I can still struggle with spending hours going down a rabbit hole on LinkedIn, just constantly consuming and reading. And to be honest, it just doesn’t feel good for me. It’s really overwhelming and I have heard from so many teachers that are struggling with the exact same feeling. And also unfortunately, wasting a lot of time doing things that aren’t working and also, getting taken advantage of by people. Even by other former teachers who are selling services and unqualified to do so.
Daphne shares how to sort through the myriad of career advice on the internet
And that’s why in this episode I am going to finally address the elephant in the room, how to sort through the noise and vet career advice. Now, first I want to get into why this is so important and obviously, it’s because there’s bad advice out there. And I want to help prevent you from accidentally taking some of it. But even before I get to that point, this is even more so about helping you move forward. Because even if the advice that you are reading is actually good, it can be too much. It can be at a stage in your career transition that you don’t actually need to consume that and not relevant to what you’re supposed to be working on. And ultimately, this research phase can be just a distraction.
When we consume too much advice or seek out too many opinions, we often become overwhelmed and indecisive. This just leads to being paralyzed from making a decision. We spend all of our time researching and evaluating all the different options, and we never actually start taking action and moving forward. It’s like that feeling that you get when you have too many different movie streaming services. It seems like a great idea, but the more time you spend bouncing around between them, the longer it’s going to take for you to ever find the perfect one. Researching feels busy, it feels like you’re being productive, and it also can feel exhausting and overwhelming. But then another hiring season may pass you by and you realize you didn’t ever move forward as much as you could have, in the same amount of time if you would’ve just picked a lane and started to work on the process.
Now, this is completely normal if you are struggling with this feeling. But what I want to help you do is sort through the noise and determine which advice is most relevant and applicable to your situation. So here are the three questions that you can ask yourself when consuming content and vetting career advice. Question number one, is this relevant to what I’m supposed to be working on right now? Now, this is a strategy that’s loosely adapted by the book, Building a Second Brain, which I loved. It’s just really helpful with understanding how to sort through all of the digital noise we see as consumers. But basically, if you are in the process where you’re supposed to be writing a cover letter, but you are getting online and you’re starting to read about what a completely, totally different job does, and now you’re starting to want to research that job instead, and that might be the new path for you, that is a distraction. Yes, maybe that post about that different type of job will come in handy someday, but you’re going to have to focus on the goal at hand.
And if you know anything about my personal story about struggling with ADHD, this is something that I’ve been doing a lot of work to make sure that I am focused on exactly what I’m supposed to be in the moment. And not bouncing all over from tab to tab, and researching, and reading, and never really moving forward. That’s why we created the Teacher Career Coach course in the actual sequence that we did. Because we know that it was so important for teachers to start with a process and understand that they’re ready to move forward and not go back in time and change career paths, or be writing a resume before they even know what career path they’re interested in because that can waste a lot of time. So making sure that you have a very clear goal of what you’re supposed to be working on in that moment, and then not consuming things that could potentially be a distraction during that time.
There’s waste that you can organize this information online. If you’re seeing it and you think maybe someday this is going to come in handy, and this is a really helpful post. And if that is something that you’re struggling with, I do recommend reading that book, Building a Second Brain, which walks you through exactly how to organize all of your files online if this is something that you’re really interested in getting into further.
But question number two, is the person qualified to give this type of advice? And is this advice good or bad? And this is the part that I’ve really struggled with wanting to ever share on the podcast because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Because ultimately, not all bad advice is made equal. Most of the time it is not done with any bad intentions. It’s someone who’s just genuinely trying to be helpful.
So I’m going to start with sorting through that helpful, free career advice that you’re getting from friends, family, and former teachers. First, I want to start with what people are doing right. I’ve seen so many former teachers sharing their stories and encouragement for others. You can see that all over our Instagram page at Teacher Career Coach. People offering advice in our comment sections. They are especially sourcing the resources or courses that supported them in their journey, and helped them get from point A to point B. Now, the problem with people giving free advice is even though they have really good intentions, they’re often speaking from a very limited perspective and just their own personal experiences, rather than a more objective perspective and researched based perspective. And this can be problematic and lead to bad advice for several reasons.
Now, the first being just personal experiences can vary widely. What worked for one person may not work for someone else. For example, I saw a former teacher share their resume and say, “Hey everyone, this is how I landed a role in X, Y, Z.” And I immediately was able to spot some huge clearing issues with the resume. And looking at other posts that that former teacher had done, they actually shared that they landed the role through a networking contact. So it was an internal reference that got their foot in the door. And because they’re not on the hiring team and they don’t have the perspective of a hiring manager or a recruiter, what they may be missing is that their resume didn’t have to go through the same process as most applicant’s resume does, because they were kind of handpicked, selected for an interview. And so these glaring red issues that I saw in the resume are going to be overlooked in those situations.
But the post went viral. And now potentially, hundreds of people were using this resume template as a framework proven to work. And because they didn’t have the experience or the qualifications to understand why they shouldn’t have shared that resume, who knows how many people may have used that and not gotten any interviews based on what they were putting out there.
Daphne discusses why looking to sources with experience is important
I’ve always recommended that you look for people with three years of experience in their field to learn from. And while new former teachers are so helpful, it’s just important to remember that they’re still figuring out their role. They have limited experience. And even the most intelligent people are still going to make mistakes From time to time. I’ll talk about myself. I am very smart and capable. In my first year outside of the classroom, I had some super cringey moments where I was completely wrong and I did some embarrassing things at one of the first conferences that I went to. On behalf of that large Fortune 500 company, I was not great at cold networking. And if I would’ve been teaching you or documenting these as best practices, you absolutely would’ve embarrassed yourself in interviews or in those situations. It took years of experience outside of the classroom for me to actually develop best practices and understand in a wide variety of situations, how to actually work. And also know when different situations arise, how to differentiate how I actually react to those situations.
So always think of someone who’s in their first year outside of the classroom, like a first year teacher. If you don’t think that a first year teacher would be expert on becoming a school counselor or a subject matter expert in strategies on gifted and talent learners in every grade level from K to 12. If you don’t think that they would know what conversations principals would have behind closed doors, take advice from a first year customer success manager on how to break into any role from project management to instructional design, with the same grain of salt. The people with the most qualified experience to speak on hiring and resumes, general best practices, which I repeat often in this episode and other episodes, and inside the Teacher Career Coach course, are those with experience and full-time positions from a well established company and recruiting and in hiring.
Their job titles will say the word talent, it will say recruiting. It will say people inside as some keywords to look for. And the companies are large and they have plenty of employees. The reason why is, these people’s full-time job is working with hiring managers or acting in a hiring capacity. This is who I have always gone to as a fact-checker and qualified expert for members of the Teacher Career Coach team when it comes to career coaching. These are qualifications that I’ve been personally looking for. And I also make sure that they’re former teachers so that they understand the differences with former teachers, and all the timeline restrictions, and how to really strongly articulate how those skills translate. New instructional designers, project managers. And SDRs are not going to be on the hiring teams. So you can learn from them about how they upskilled for instructional design or how they got into project management.
But also know that they’re new. They don’t know everything about the field that they’re in, and they may make some mistakes along the way. So always taking it with a grain of salt and understanding the context of what they should be subject matter experts in. So additionally, people may have biases or blind spots that affect the advice that they’re giving. Someone who’s only worked at a fast moving startup won’t realize how different their role is and the hiring process is compared to other company’s norms. Especially if they’re new to the field and they don’t have a variety of experiences. If they’ve only worked in a corporate environment, they may not understand what a smaller nonprofit hiring process is like. Personal experiences are not going to represent the industry as a whole. And just because something worked for one person, with one hiring manager, and one specific situation, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to work for everyone in the same seeming situation.
Daphne shares why it is important to focus on what your next step is when looking for advice
So this goes back to that bullet point number one, is this relevant to what I am working on? So if you are looking at someone who is giving a lot of advice for an industry that you are not applying to, you may want to unfollow that person because it may be a distraction. And take into account that you are not the same as every person who is posting. And most people who are giving out free advice are focused on what worked best for them. They’re not going to take your unique needs into account. So don’t let that be a distraction and pull you into a ton of different directions. Just because one former teacher didn’t like their sales role doesn’t mean that all former teachers are going to dislike their sales role. If you didn’t have the exact same opinion as every other grade level member of your team, then you aren’t going to have the exact same opinions as every other former teacher.
So don’t let that pull you into a ton of different directions and being stuck in this research phase. People begin to act as experts and forget to quote the resources that supported them with deeper context. And I think that this happens a lot of times, just because they’re quickly writing something. But it’s so important to realize that a lot of the surface level advice that you’re seeing is probably not taking you as far into the subject matter as you need to go. For example, reading general advice like translate your resume with one or two examples, may appear like your learning something like, “Oh, that person’s a new project manager, and all they said was to translate my resume.” But there’s so much more nuance to effective resume writing. And if they’re not sharing where they learned how to actually translate their resume, it can lead people to believe that just one or two bullet points is actually doing all the work that needs to be done, but they’re really missing a lot of that context.
Daphne explains the difference between harmless and potentially harmful bad advice
Now, I don’t want you to think that all free advice is bad. There’s so much free advice out there that it’s good. It’s just really important to be able to decide whether or not it’s a distraction for you in the moment, and you’re stuck, consuming and not moving forward.
But yes, there is some pretty bad advice out there. And I’ll start with the bad advice that’s pretty much harmless. Like there are people who are former teachers who are now helping other career transitioners that are giving advice, like post on LinkedIn daily or send audio messages to the DMs on LinkedIn for hiring managers. These are not going to ruin your chances most of the time of landing a new role, but they’re probably wasting you a lot of time.
And we have past episodes of the Teacher Career Coach Podcast about how to effectively use LinkedIn. So you should go back and listen to those if you’re a little bit confused on why you shouldn’t post every single day or how to actually apply using LinkedIn. But the most important thing to go back and look at is the people who are telling you how to leverage your experience on LinkedIn, are they in a recruiting or hiring capacity? Or did they just build an audience on LinkedIn? Are they trying to sell a product? Those are the types of questions you need to ask yourself of whether or not they’re qualified to give the advice that they’re giving, or whether or not it’s useful for you at the stage that you are at.
And there are people who are with the best of intentions, giving bad advice that unfortunately could be damaging to the community as a whole. People who are telling transitioning teachers to apply to jobs as early as January, even if they’re not open to breaking their contract in June. And surface level, this looks like, okay, they’re just telling people to get the ball rolling early and maybe a job will hold it for them. But what they don’t realize is how this exhausts hiring managers having an influx of candidates that aren’t ready to take up a position. It starts to build patterns with hiring managers if they start to see, “Well, a lot of teachers are applying to this position, and a lot of them are saying they’re actually not open to taking it. So maybe we’ll pass and we’ll only start looking for people outside of education that are able to take the job earlier.”
And it’s more important in January for you to be working on figuring out the jobs that you want, upskilling for those roles, and getting your resume ready so that you can use your limited time effectively. But if you are getting advice from someone who hasn’t supported a lot of transitioning teachers, they don’t really know the steps, or the process, or the best way to help you manage your time effectively. And they’re just doing it from their heart and they’re just hoping that it’s the best practice. And this is not to shame anyone who has given advice in the past. I’m just hoping to help alleviate some of the misinformation that’s out there right now. Because some bad advice may ultimately be the reason why you don’t hear back from hiring managers depending on where you’re getting your advice from.
There have been instructional designers that landed a role in a corporate environment who are really intelligent, wonderful people, and they created this great resume template. Not knowing that it wasn’t something that was ATS friendly. They were trying to be supportive of the community and they shared it widely. And I had to reach out and let them know, “Hey, what you shared is potentially not going to even get opened based on how bad the formatting is. And it’s not suitable for career transitions.” Ultimately, these kinds of mistakes could lead to your resume being rejected or overlooked by hiring managers. And that’s why it’s just so essential to be cautious when you’re taking free advice and to critically evaluate the source and the context of the advice.
Daphne shares why solid career advice can come with a price tag
As mentioned earlier, there’s just a lot of research and analysis that has to go into providing a really accurate and comprehensive view, and the challenges that teachers are going to have when transitioning into new careers. People giving free advice just don’t usually have the time or the resources to fact check their advice or do proper research. And I have seen this happen time and time again. Either someone who starts out volunteering, ends up getting overwhelmed and saying, “I’m not answering any more DMs. I’m not able to support your questions,” which is understandable. They have a full-time job. Or if they are met with someone who is questioning whether or not there’s an inaccuracy in something that they’re saying, they just respond, “Well, I’m not a career coach. This is just my opinion. I’m just trying to help.” And while their heart and their intentions are great, this is what is leading to inaccuracies and misinformation that is being spread. And it’s detrimental that those who are seeking support are not able to figure out what is the well vetted, thorough advice that is going to help the best general audience.
So that is why most people who do career coaching end up having to do a paid service. That’s why Teacher Career Coach does depend on revenue in order to keep qualified fact-checkers, and people with the qualifications and experiences on our team. And so, you may be looking at our program, or looking at our qualifications, and maybe even looking at other career coaches, or other upskilling or bootcamp resources. And wondering how you can vet whether or not the person is qualified to give the advice, or whether or not the advice is accurate. And well researched information because every year it seems like a new program or coaching service pops up. And it can be overwhelming. You hear so many stories of people who have gotten scammed. And it makes you hesitant to want to invest in this kind of support even though you really could use the additional help.
So, in order to help you from being scammed, I want to share just some general overviews of how to vet career advice or advice specific to different types of careers. And first, look at their personal history. If they are teaching step-by-step programs about how to land a role in a very specific industry, you’re going to want to look to make sure that they have three plus years of experience in that industry. And I’ve seen people who have only one year of experience in instructional design, or six months of experience in project management try to do coaching or paid services in a program just for additional income. And I cannot vouch for each and every single one of them. Some of them may be great. But I always think about it like I would a first year teacher. Would you expect a first year teacher to know everything about classroom management, and pedagogy, and differentiation, and even counseling, or other areas outside of the grade that they’re actually teaching?
Well, then you wouldn’t expect a first year customer success manager to be able to tell you everything about every customer success position, everything to do with customer success, and even hiring and landing a role in customer success. People with the most qualified experience to speak on hiring and resumes in general, which I continue to repeat, are those with experience for well-established companies in recruiting and hiring. Just because they are well-known on LinkedIn for posting over, and over, and over again career advice. If you looked at their LinkedIn profile, and it doesn’t look like they have experience between maybe potentially being in the classroom, and this new role as a career transition coach, that would be a red flag. You really want to look for someone who has experience in a corporate environment and not just experience of selling resumes to people online.
Now, there are people who are probably doing wonderful jobs of just being a freelancer and just selling amazing resumes. And if you don’t want to disqualify them based on their personal history, if they didn’t check off the first box, you can always look for the second box, which is making sure that you can find plenty of testimonials and success stories. You want someone, especially if they’ve been doing this for years, that you can find a really, really great amount of success stories and testimonials. An example would be if you go to our Instagram page @Teachercareercoach, you can find plenty of former teachers who successfully use the Teacher Career Coach course, and are happy to share their experiences about it on our page or also in the comment section. They should have a large quantity of free resources that you would be able to check out. So whether it’s articles online or a podcast episodes that they’ve been on where you have felt like you’ve made progress and that you’ve grown. And that will show that the premium resources that they created probably even take a further step and help you grow even more.
But if you find them, and the only thing that they have is behind a gated paywall, that is a red flag. I could probably go on for an entire 30-minute episode of just all of the negative things that I’ve seen in this space and how disheartening it is. How many times I’ve seen people lie or make promises that they can’t keep. Or sell something that they are not qualified to sell. I’ve had people try and copy and paste our resources and pretend that they are their own. There’s just so many negative things out there, and I don’t want you to constantly be focusing on the negative. But I do want you to make sure that you’re able to vet whoever you are listening to, make sure that you’re finding someone who’s an honest person, who’s sharing their honest qualifications, who’s able to strongly articulate what makes them the person that can help you get from point A to point B.
And it’s also really important to look: Do they have any sort of refund policy? Because there are people who have invested $5,000 in a program only to find out as they entered the program, that it wasn’t a good foot, and they were not able to get the majority of that money back based on the contract that they signed. So these are the types of things that really terrify me. But on the other end, there are so many programs that have helped people so much. These are educators in their own life. There are so many people that I’ve connected with through my work with Teacher Career Coach that just have really transformed other people’s lives as well. And I just want you to know with confidence that there are good programs out there. Not all paid programs are bad programs, but it’s just so important that you vet them.
So to reiterate, when you are following people for free advice or paid advice, just making sure that you are checking their qualifications. The last thing that I want to go over is what actions do you plan to take with all of this advice? Now that I’ve given you all these different steps to help you vet through all this noise, have a plan of what you’re going to do. If you are going to go on and learn about a specific role, look for those people with three plus years in that role. Take a few LinkedIn learning courses specific to it. Don’t go on to LinkedIn to blindly connect with random people. There’s something going on called Social Saturday, and it’s one of the bi biggest distractions, and it’s mostly just people who are trying to sell services using it to target career changers, so that they can send you DMs and try and sell you something. But you won’t see as a lot of hiring managers who are actual recruiters in those spaces.
And while finding a community of other career transitioners can feel empowering, blindly connecting with a lot of strangers without a clear strategy is why everyone’s feed is getting so noisy. You are inviting a lot of cooks in your kitchen, who may be giving you ideas and distractions, who don’t have the experience that you’re looking for to learn from. Now, when you’re looking at the new things in your feed, if the advice is bad or distracting, you can unfollow and unfriend people on LinkedIn. And ask yourself if the advice that you are seeing is good. Or if you are in this phase of taking action, do you need to go deeper? Is there a program or something that you need to do to start actually moving forward?
If you are finding yourself in the comment section, asking people questions and hoping that they’re going to come back and bring the answers to you. Remember, most people just don’t have the bandwidth or the qualifications to help you step by step. They can only answer their own personal experiences. And it’s a big ask for a stranger.
So to reiterate the points in this podcast episode, every time you feel like you’re getting pulled in a million directions and you’re not moving forward, you’re going to want to ask yourself the following questions. One, is this relevant to what I’m currently working on? Two, is this person qualified to give this type of advice? And is this advice good or bad? And three, what actions do I plan to take with this advice? And if you need a plan to walk you through all the steps from choosing a new career, to reading job descriptions, to rewriting your resume, and answering tricky interview questions for a variety of roles, all of that is inside of the Teacher Career Coach Course, and it can help. It’ll help you move forward, and it’ll help you put things into a sequence, so that you’re not constantly stuck in the researching phase, but it can help you start to move forward.
This project is important to you. Just like the project in front of my house to remodel my yard is important to me. It is expensive, it’s time-consuming, and you want to get it right. So do not invite too many cooks in your kitchen. Do not invite people who have not done it before. Do not invite people who do not know you or know your best interest, and do not invite people who aren’t qualified to distract you from actually making progress this year.