Transitioning Teacher Questions ANSWERED!

85 – Top 10 Questions from Transitioning Teachers ANSWERED!


This week I’m taking a break from our regular content to answer the your most pressing questions about transitioning into a new career. We’re digging into getting career path clarity, the impact of the recession, why companies are ghosting, and much more!

Listen to the episode in the podcast player below, or find it on Apple Podcast or Spotify.

Episode Transcript

So, in this episode, I am going to give answers to 10 questions that I’m receiving a lot right now. We’ll have all of these written out.

If you want to go back and review any of my answers, you can find the transcript linked in today’s show notes. Before I dive into it, I would love to remind you to share the Teacher Career Coach podcast with other teachers who are looking for this type of support so that they can find this resource and all of our past podcasts where we interview former teachers as well.

Why am I not hearing back after interviews?

Diving into my very first question, which is, “Why am I not hearing back?” “Why do I not hear back after an interview,” and why do some companies in general, just ghost?

Well, this is not an easy question to answer because there’s a lot of different factors that could be happening. But first let’s talk about when you are applying for a job and you haven’t gone through the interview process at all but you just never hear anything back.

I have had companies that send out this mass email that says, “Hey, we had a lot of great candidates apply for this position. It has been filled.” That is appreciated but it is not something that many companies do because if you do send out an email to 50 or 100 candidates and say, “Unfortunately, we’re not moving forward,” many of them may reach out and say, “Can you let me know why,” or, “Are there other roles at this company that I can apply for?”

And just that back and forth is not something that hiring managers may have time for and it’s not something that they want to be opening up. And as much as we want to get feedback on what we can do to improve, this isn’t the part of the process where many people do actually have the time or the bandwidth to give feedback.

That feedback process usually happens during the interview phase. And now talking about if you haven’t heard back after an interview. I know this feeling very well. 72 hours can feel like six months time. If you’ve done an interview and you’re expecting to hear one way or the other and you haven’t heard anything, you can start to feel really impatient. And sometimes you do an interview and you don’t hear anything for weeks. And that is something that is really common when you’re interviewing in a company in corporate culture. Interview processes could take multiple steps and even months of time to get through all of the interviews that they do.

And so, sometimes it’s common to not back after a couple of weeks after your interview. What I recommend doing if you are on a time crunch, which many of you are, is to continue to circle back at least once a week or just once a week, not spamming them with too many emails, just to ask them if there are any updates and you’re looking forward to hearing the next step in the interview.

Usually after you send that first email, “Hey, I’m really excited about this opportunity. I’m wanting to hear a little bit more if there are any updates and what’s going on,” or, “What are the next steps?” And that’s when they should give you an estimated timeline if there are still multiple interviews coming up but if something happened on the back end like, “We have to put hiring this position on hold for two months,” or, “We’re still interviewing another candidate.”

They may not let you know what’s going on because maybe a candidate’s almost getting the job but if it does fall through, then you would maybe be potentially their next person that they would like to hire. They may not tell you everything that’s going on. And that’s why it’s so important that when you interview for somewhere, you are still applying for other jobs as well and you don’t put all of your eggs in this one basket until you have signed a contract.

How many jobs should I be applying to?

Now, “How many jobs should I be applying to,” is another question that I get all the time. First, I want to encourage you to, whatever you do, actually edit your resume for the jobs that you’re applying to. So, if I told you that you need to apply for a certain amount of jobs per week, I don’t want you to do that spray and pray method because quality over quantity is what we’re really looking for when you’re doing your resumes and applying for these positions.

You want to show them that you really have a lot of experience for this particular role, especially when you’re making a career change. It’s going to be harder for you to stand out amongst the competition.

If you’re applying for customer success positions, you’re probably applying against other people who have actually held customer success roles in the past. And so, you need to tailor your resume to prove to them that you’re excited for the position in front of them. If you just have one generic teacher resume that’s been translated for a variety of positions, it’s not going to stand out as well.

So, I can’t give a definitive answer of how many jobs you should be applying to per week. I have heard a lot of teachers who are only applying to one or two jobs per week. And at that pace, honestly, it may take you almost a year to find a job while others are applying for 15 or 20 jobs per week.

That’s more aligned with what I would potentially be doing if I was aggressively applying for positions because jobs outside of the classroom are a lot harder to get than teaching positions. When I was applying for teaching positions, I think I only interviewed at three different schools before I landed a job. And while some people luck out and they get jobs within two weeks of changing their resume and pinpointing a next career path, this is a process that is going to take a lot of time and a lot of energy and a lot of work.

So, you should be applying for more than two or three jobs per week in order to make the most of your limited timeframe if you’re trying to get a job within a couple of months. And if you do need help translating your resume, go back to episode 29 of this podcast and we have an episode all about how to translate your resume for a variety of positions.

“I’m more (or less) experienced when it comes to teaching. . .”

Now, the next question, number three, is something that I get that’s always unique to someone’s specific situation. And it’s either, “I’m more experienced or less experienced when it comes to teaching. Should I leave?” This is so personal and it depends on a variety of factors.

So, let’s start with the more experienced teacher. A teacher who is more experienced is probably closer to retirement and maybe looking for a different starting salary than someone who is less experienced, which means that it’s going to be a little bit more challenging. That does not by any means mean that it’s impossible or that they should stay in the classroom forever if they know that, that’s not what they want to do anymore. It just means that there are different factors that they’re going to have to weigh when they weigh the pros and cons of making this change.

There are so many teachers who have left after 15 years or 17 years and still actually had pay increases. We’ve had former teachers with more experience on this podcast actually share their experience where they’ve doubled their salary within a couple of years of leaving the classroom but it is going to take more work to land these types of positions. And it is going to take a lot more time and energy to dedicate yourself to up-skilling to finding a position that is going to pay you a comparable salary if you are in a higher paying state and higher up on the salary schedule.

We’ve written a blog all about weighing the pros and cons and what you should think about as an experienced teacher potentially leaving the classroom. And so, we’ll link that in today’s show notes so that you can find these resources as well.

Now, for those of you who are less experienced, meaning that you have been in the classroom for less than three years, you also need to weigh the pros and cons of leaving at this stage. I personally left teaching after three years. And for those of you who are in this stage, it is going to be far easier for you to find a job that pays more.

85% of teachers who leave within the first five years of teaching find themselves in a pay increase in their next job. But if you’ve only worked at one school or one district, you may want to change schools or environments before you start over altogether, especially those of you who have only worked in teaching for one year.

Another thing to consider is that hiring managers may look at you as someone who is a career hopper if you leave before you have two years established in a particular role. That doesn’t mean that finding a new job outside of the classroom is going to be impossible but you’re going to need to work extra hard to prove to them how passionate you are about your next opportunity because they may be nervous that you’re not quite sure what you want to do and that you would leave after a year in this next role as well.

Transitioning Teacher Questions ANSWERED!

“What can I do to get ready for application season?”

The next question that I get a lot is from those teachers who are starting a new school year and they want to do everything that they can to ensure that they are ready to apply for their next application season and get a job during that really small timeframe that teachers have.

And if that is where you are at right now, my best advice to you would be to start today. Use this time to figure out what roles you’re the most interested in. And if you’re listening to this podcast, this is a great start but start getting your hands dirty and learning the roles as well. Begin to network with those who have been in the positions for more than three years time. Up skill. Rewrite your resume.

This entire process is going to take a lot of time and energy. And if you put it off until the end of the year again, you may not have the energy to get it all done within the short timeframe that you need to.

Many people take the opportunity to jump into the Teacher Career Coach Course within the first few months of the school year because I’ve actually laid out what you can do each of the months to help prepare you for peak application season.

So, if you are in the Teacher Career Coach Course, make sure to stay engaged in the community, check out the resources and stay on the timeline because setting yourself up for success now makes it so much easier when you do start to apply during that peak application season.

“How is the recession impacting the job market?”

The next question is one that I’m hearing a lot right now. It is, “How is the recession impacting the job market?” And I talk to a lot of hiring managers and recruiters. And what I’m hearing from most of them is that if someone actually truly believes that their company is at risk to lay off a large amount of their employees, they’re already on a hiring freeze, which means that they do not have a single open position that they would be actually advertising right now.

Very few companies want the negative PR that comes with a massive layoff, even during the recession. And it also hurts the candidates who would apply in the future because they’ll hear about these layoffs as something that, “That’s not a stable company. I don’t want to work there.” So, companies that are hiring right now are doing so in good faith that you would have a position for the long term but no one is a fortune teller. We have no idea what’s really going to happen with the recession and how that’s going to impact how people spend and whether or not they’re going to be able to pay their employees in two years.

And yes, it is a little bit wild out there right now. As I’m actually doing this podcast, it is in late July of 2022. A hiring freeze will impact certain industries or certain parts of companies harder. So, for example, layoffs may happen more for those who are in recruiting and talent because if a company doesn’t plan to hire 50 people this year, then they probably don’t need to pay to have recruiters on salary waiting to hire anyone.

If a company is hiring right now for almost any role, just believe that as a sign that they do believe that they have the budget to keep people on. Generally speaking, any companies who are in that wait and see mode are probably not hiring anyone and they don’t have anything live on their company page.

With all of this being said, I always want to be as transparent as possible. There is always going to be risk involved in any career change. You are losing your tenure and you are going to be at the very bottom of the chain of people who are working at this company as a new hire. I do not want to downplay that risk right now.

So, the best thing that you can do to not let fear overtake you and so that you never move forward because there’s any sort of risks involved is just play out all of the worst case scenarios.

Did you have any openings at your school midyear last year? Are you leaving on good terms if you wanted to return back to the classroom, even potentially midyear. If you did take a job and you potentially lost it in a few months, could you substitute while you look for another role with your new network and experience on your resume?

You are going to have to be the one to weigh the pros and cons of whether or not these risks are right for you but I also don’t want fear to be making all of your decisions for you because if you are looking for a red flag on why not to do something that’s scary, you’re always going to find a red flag.

Yes, the recession is a big deal and I don’t want to downplay that but the recession is not making every company fire everyone. And so, there are lots of companies that are still hiring right now. And if this is something that you’ve wanted for four or five years or 10 years, and you are certain on it, you can still take that risk right now.

“When should I start applying for jobs?”

Now, going to number six, “When should I start applying?” I always recommend that you apply two months prior to when you are actually able to take the position. At the very end of the school year, you can start aggressively applying.

So, let’s say your last day is May 30th. So, two months before that last day is when I would tell you to start applying. And all of this is assuming that you are planning on staying through the entire school year. If you are open to leaving, if you’re in the classroom right now and you’re listening to this and you’re open to leaving, well, you can be applying right now.

This is a really personal and big decision. And I know that it’s one that you don’t take lightly but if you are thinking of leaving the classroom in the middle of the school year, I encourage you to go back and listen to episode 52 of the podcast, “All about breaking your teaching contract.”

“Should I put ‘Former Teacher’ or ‘Teacher’ or ‘Educator’ on my LinkedIn and resume?”

Another question that I get asked a lot is, “Should I put Former Teacher or Teacher or Educator on my LinkedIn and my resume?” And the question that you really need to stop and ask yourself is why you are adding it to your resume or your LinkedIn.

If you are adding Former Teacher to your LinkedIn profile, to your LinkedIn title and everywhere all over your LinkedIn, you are probably struggling a little bit with leaving teaching and that part of your identity. You are moving on from this career and to a totally new career.

Your LinkedIn and your resume is your chance to completely rebrand yourself and start walking towards that new direction. You are going to have your career experience on your resume and on your LinkedIn. So, they’re going to be able to tell that you’re a former teacher but your title can confidently show that you are working towards a new career.

And it doesn’t need to explain that you’re a former teacher on your LinkedIn title. There are times where playing up your experience as a former teacher is going to work in your advantage like if someone is specifically looking for someone with education experience to work at an ad tech company in a specific role or if someone’s looking for an expert in curriculum writing. But there are also going to be many times where you want to focus more on the role in front of you. And it really doesn’t make a lot of sense to brand yourself or advertise yourself as a former teacher.

If you are working to become a project manager, you want hiring managers to see you as a project manager. You want your profile to be able to help you network with project managers who have been in their roles for three years or more.

If someone was a banker but was moving into marketing and they’re LinkedIn mostly talked about their role as a banker and how they’re leaving banking, it would be hard for others to determine that they’re actually moving into marketing. No one hiring is searching the words, “Former teacher,” on LinkedIn. They’re hiring and looking for people with the words, “Curriculum writing,” or, “Project manager.” And you have to feel comfortable and confident identifying as those titles before anyone else will call you that. It’s so hard emotionally to close this chapter but you are doing that right now.

You are closing the chapter of being a former teacher. It’s something that’s always going to stick with you and is always going to impact who you are but ultimately, adding this to your LinkedIn title or on your resume is up to you. They’re going to know that you’re a former teacher when you interview and it really depends on the context of where you’re adding it and what roles you’re applying for, whether or not it’s going to help you.

If you are struggling with moving on to something new and losing your identity as a teacher, I recommend that you go back to Episode 61 where I talk about five ways a career hunt is like dating because I feel like it may help you at this stage.

“How can I balance looking for a new career and teaching?”

Another question that I get asked a lot is, “How can I balance looking for a career when I’m so busy with teaching?” And this is such a hard question to answer because I remember working 50 and 60 hour weeks as a teacher and barely having any time to myself. When you are looking for a career, it can take over almost like a full time job and putting in the hours on top of the hours that you’re already working for the classroom can be completely exhausting.

I recommend having a blocked off timeframe that you’re going to work on these specific goals and do it every week. So, if it’s Saturday between one o’clock and 3:00 PM, every Saturday that you sit down and you just work on up-skilling or rewriting your resume, then keep to that and whatever you can add to your schedule.

Just try and stay accountable. There are things that you can do that are more efficient and better uses of your time. And there are things that you are doing that could be potentially wasting your time. So, one of the things that I see people doing that is wasting their time is applying for jobs way before they’re ready to even take the job.

So, I’ve heard from hiring managers that there are many teachers that started applying as early as January and February, and the hiring managers actually did interviews with them. And then they said, “Actually, I’m not ready to leave the classroom until July.” It is very rare that a job will be held for you for that long.

With any career outside of the classroom, they are advertising the open positions because they’re ready to hire for them. And if you are looking at jobs and applying to jobs, that takes a lot of time. That could be time that you could be spending on upskilling so that when you are ready to interview and actually get out of the classroom, you’re going to really shine in your interviews. That could be time that you’re spending rewriting your resume. And it also could be time spent networking so that you may potentially figure out what companies you have ends to when you are ready to actually apply for those jobs.

There are other things that I’ve seen teachers do like posting every day on LinkedIn and things that take a lot of time and don’t necessarily move the needle forward as much as doing something like taking a course, getting your hands dirty and actually building experience will.

“I need to stay to pay off my loans. What can I do RIGHT NOW that will help me change careers later?”

The next question is, “I need to stay for X years to have my loans paid off. What can I do now to help myself get out later?” My advice, especially if you have one or two years ahead of you, start freelancing or find part-time work that actually aligns with what you want for your long-term career goals.

So, pick the path and then start looking for freelancer part-time work in that specific career field. That way, when you are ready to actually pivot into that career field, you’ll have built up somewhat of a savings account or been able to pay off those loans early but you’ll also have a lot of experience that you can add to your resume and potentially a new network of people that you can reach out to for a full-time role.

People who have multiple years of freelancing or part-time roles also have the luxury of trying out all these different types of roles before they actually go into a full-time position.

It’s so easy to assume that you would love a role just based on what it looks like on paper. But once you finally start getting your hands dirty, you’ll realize that some parts of the job you may love more than others, and that might come as a surprise and open up your eyes to new opportunities in the future. So, I recommend starting now, starting to identify the roles that you want and seeing if there’s any way that you can build experience and get paid for it at the same time. Episode 13 of this podcast is a great resource to help you get started with freelancing with the expert, Jay Clouse. He goes through everything you need to know about becoming a freelancer. So, I recommend you check that out if that is something that interests you.

What do I do when I can’t pick one, single career?

The very last question and something that we’ve heard a lot is, “What do I do when I just can’t pick one single career?”You have done so much as a teacher and it’s hard for you to figure out what parts of your experience are going to be the parts that you enjoy the most in a new career field because you’ve had project management experience, you’ve done training experience, there’s instructional design components and this feels like it’s a really big decision.

No matter what your next career path, it does not have to be your forever career as well. That’s the one thing that I really want to start with but you’ve done so much in your one career path that it’s really hard for you to decide how to move forward. I’ve learned about something called the paradox of choice and it suggests that an abundance of options actually requires more effort to choose and can leave us feeling unsatisfied with our choice. So, if it came down between teaching at your current school and a customer success position at a specific company, it would be far easier for you to weigh the pros and cons and just pick one and move forward.

But right now you probably have 1,000 different companies and 1,000 different job titles that you feel like you’re picking from. So, you’re going to be paralyzed with making sure you pick the absolute best of all 1,000. It’s like buying a house and choosing between two, which is going to be way easier than choosing between all of the houses in the United States.

And sometimes the roles that you are interested in are similar enough that you actually do have some career clarity. So, if you’re looking at learning and development roles and corporate trainer roles and instructional design, they’re really similar enough that you don’t even need to change your resume very much to apply for each different position. While instructional design is more tech heavy, it does take more up-skilling than other paths. These all have similar components and they’re similar paths.

Now, if you were looking at UX design, project management, learning and development, and sales, those are all totally different directions. And this is something that we have been building resources to help support more people but because everybody’s journey is unique and they have specific roadblocks when it comes to picking a career, we realize that this was best utilized with one-on-one coaching calls, which is why we offer career clarity coaching for our Teacher Career Coach Course members. And we just do a deep dive one-on-one coaching call that can help you move forward if you’re hitting this major roadblock in your career hunt.

If you are a Teacher Career Coach Course member and you want to learn more about working with one of our team members to get your deep dive career clarity call, to help you go through a series of questions and learn more about your strengths, interest, expertise and concerns, and get a selection of careers that would be great fits for you based on your current needs and utilizing your strengths and interests, you can find it at the very top of the Teacher Career Coach course to learn how to sign up.

In Closing

I went through 10 of the biggest questions that I am hearing from teachers right now as I’m publishing this episode. But I wanted to let you know that if you are still struggling with some of the biggest questions that teachers changing careers have, we have a frequently asked questions page at Teachers Changing Careers: FAQ. And it answers questions like, “What career is right for me? What companies or businesses hire teachers? How do I stop feeling so guilty about changing careers? What are the pros and cons of leaving teaching? What jobs can I get that still have summers off?” And all of the other frequently asked questions that we get all in one compiled resource library.

Mentioned in the episode:

Step out of the classroom and into a new career, The Teacher Career Coach Course