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How to Exit Teaching in 5 Steps

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

Teacher leaving classroom

Leaving teaching is a huge decision, and it's important to make sure that a career pivot is the right choice for you. If you've decided that teaching is no longer the right fit, there are ways to make your transition into a new profession as smooth as possible.

How to exit teaching in 5 steps:

1. Do your research.

Teacher researching new jobs

Before you start applying for jobs, it's important to do your research and figure out what you want to do next. This may involve taking a personality test, or career test and looking at a range of job listings to see what catches your eye and what makes your heart sing. What are your interests? What are your skills? What kind of work environment are you looking for? What are your non-negotiables? Don't be afraid to take a risk. Sometimes the best way to find a new career is to take a leap of faith and try something new. If you're not sure what you want to do, consider volunteering or taking on a part-time job in a field that interests you. I love helping others and being creative. This describes any number of jobs! Sometimes the role you're interested in can have up to six different titles (don't even get me started on the many faces and names of Instructional Designers - a classic transition career for a teacher!).

Once you have career clarity and a good understanding of what you're looking for, you can start to narrow down your search. I would recommend only focusing on two to three types of roles and researching all the different titles they go by. If you are struggling with career clarity, don't be afraid to ask for help. Many people are willing to help teachers who are transitioning into new careers. Talk to your friends, family, former colleagues, mentors or even hire a coach for advice and support. You can also find helpful information online (particularly TED Talks) and at your local library. Starting strong and heading in the right direction from the start is going to make transitioning from teaching a whole lot easier. There are so many jobs for teachers to transition to, the right one for you is out there.

2. Update your resume and cover letter.

Teacher updating resume

This next step is key once you have narrowed down the roles that interest you. Your resume and cover letter are your first chance to make a good impression on potential employers. Make sure your resume is well-written, error-free and optimised for ATS (an automated system for scanning applications). There are plenty of free templates online and I know that Teal is a very popular tool for helping you to tailor your resume to the job application and keep track of the application process. You will also need to highlight your relevant skills and experience for the jobs you're applying to. This is not a one-size-fits-all, you will need to tailor your resume to the job using the same keywords as the company that is hiring. Your skills are transferable, all you have to do is learn how to translate them to fit the vocabulary in the job application. Are you working with students, learners, clients, customers or stakeholders? Are you assessing or analysing data? Are you planning or project managing? You get the idea.

3. Network with people in your field.

Teacher networking to find a new job

Now that you have found the right jobs, and tailored your resume to match each job description it's time to fix your LinkedIn profile and get networking. Prospective employers need to be clear about what you can do and what you offer. Remove the teacher speak from your profile, you are the role you wish to be! Update your work history, use a fresh, professional-looking photo with a plain background and translate your transferable skills in your About section.

Start networking and engaging with others because networking is one of the best ways to find a job. Talk to your friends, family, and former colleagues to see if they know of any openings. You can also attend industry events meetups, and conferences, and connect with people on LinkedIn to learn about job opportunities. Face-to-face meetups are far more effective in developing professional relationships so follow experts in the roles you're interested in and reach out to them! Plan a coffee chat in person or over Teams. Have those conversations and learn as much as you can about the roles you want. I'll have to let you know how my coffee-chat-turned-woodland-walk goes after Friday!

4. Prepare for interviews.

Teacher being interviewed in a corporate role

Once you start getting interviews, it's important to be prepared. Practise your answers to common interview questions, and dress professionally. Research everything you can about the company on different social media platforms, on the company website, and in any of their blog posts! Be confident and enthusiastic, and show the interviewer why you're the best person for the job. Be sure to give examples of real-life scenarios in your answers.

5. Don't give up.

Dream Big Quote on a blackboard

The job search can be tough, but it's important to stay positive and persistent. Don't give up if you don't get the first few jobs you apply for. Also, know your worth! You are not an entry-level candidate, you have so many transferable teacher skills. Keep networking, keep applying, and perhaps do a few free courses. Eventually, you will find the right job for you.

If you're interested in my teacher transitioning journey so far, check out my previous blog post here.

If you have any other questions about transitioning out of teaching or possible future career options, comment below and I would be glad to help a fellow teacher out!

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