Career Transition for Teachers: Classroom to the Corporate World
Let’s talk about career transition for teachers. Don’t feel like reading? Listen here!
Katy Garvey is on a mission.
To help educators find jobs in the corporate world.
As a former teacher and principal who transitioned to the corporate world, Garvey knows firsthand the challenges education professionals face when seeking a career change. That’s why she started RecruitedED, a recruiting company focused on helping educators find jobs in the corporate world while also helping companies hire rockstar employees—who were formerly educators. Garvey specializes in talent acquisition and assists transitioning educators in finding their next rewarding career in the corporate world.
Most teachers have a strong set of transferable skills that can make an impact in the corporate world, says Garvey, and that can often replace industry experience requirements that the white-collar world puts in place when hiring. But it’s a challenge to get a corporate recruiter to see past job descriptions and requirements when reviewing resumes and interviewing educators making a career change.
“The soft skills teachers possess apply to many corporate positions, but unfortunately, sometimes it’s hard to convince hiring managers of this without them having been able to observe this firsthand,” says Garvey.
That’s why she encourages educators to network, be patient, and be proactive.
She also encourages job seekers to research specific companies for which they would like to work and to be open to getting their foot in the door with an organization versus searching solely for a specific role or job title.
“Your first job outside of education doesn’t have to be your forever job, but it can help get you the experience you need to open other opportunities in the future,” says Garvey. “Along the same lines, it’s important to look for companies where there are opportunities for growth and promotions down the road.”
Teachers and Educators Offer Valuable Skill Sets to Corporate America
“We help people learn the basics about a burgeoning and complex industry, one that still needs to be better regulated and is still going through its growing pains—but it’s growing fast,” says Sarson. “We provide clear, easy-to-follow video lessons and tutorials on these complex subjects. We need those skilled at taking complicated issues and making them more digestible. Corporations of all stripes and sizes need people with those skills. That’s how teachers can make that transition—by finding jobs like that link up nicely with their background and skills.”
Soft Skills That Transfer to the Corporate World
Lorien Strydom, Executive Country Manager with Financer.com, previously worked as a secondary school teacher in Johannesburg. She loved teaching—but knew she wanted to transition into the corporate world. She focused on networking to help make the transition.
“I joined professional organizations, went to events, and reached out to people in my field,” said Strydom. “I was interested in the finance side since that was where my expertise was, and I was lucky to connect with the CEO of Financer. Just by growing my network, I was able to make a connection that helped me land a job at a leading Fintech firm that operated in over 20 countries. Eight years in, and I am the country director for the firm.”
Irfan says teachers possess several in-demand transferable skills that should be attractive to recruiters in the corporate world, including interpersonal, communication, and project management skills.
“The key to successfully transitioning from a career as a teacher to another field is to always be open-minded, flexible, and willing to learn new things and try new things along the way,” says Irfan. “By doing so, you can position yourself for success no matter what career you pursue.”
“Multitasking, leadership, problem-solving, and time management are just a few examples of the transferable skills you’ll have developed in the classroom that are highly sought after by employers in the corporate world,” says Johns.
Rely on Your Teaching Skills to Adapt
“What struck me was how easily they adapted to a corporate environment,” said Little. “The communication skills and conflict resolution skills that you are taught as an educator are incredibly valuable in a corporate environment and set you up for leadership roles.”
“So, my advice is instead of worrying about how you ‘don’t know about the corporate world,’ apply your communication and conflict resolution skills to your corporate atmosphere. While you may have to adjust the wording (on a resume or application), the concepts remain remarkably similar. It’s just transitioning from one institutional environment to another, so have confidence that you’ll adapt!”
Gain Experience Through Volunteering
Another way to gain experience is to volunteer with industry or professional organizations in career areas that interest you.
Example: A Minnesota math teacher joined a local information technology professional meet-up group and volunteered to check people in at a few local events. When doing so, he connected with several local software developers and learned different ways to break into the field.
Through these conversations, this person decided to go to a software development boot camp and, in 18 months, started a new career as a software developer.
When you get involved, you meet people who have experience and connections and develop both professional and personal relationships.
What’s more, companies look at experiences outside the classroom—literally—when reading resumes or interviewing candidates. They want to see what other experiences one has outside of their professional background. Volunteering and being active in organizations have value and good employers realize that.
How a Recruiter Can Help Career Transition for Teachers
If you are a teacher going through a career change, consider finding a recruiter or staffing firm that can help introduce you to companies and make the change.
Keep in mind, however, recruiters work with employers and are looking to fill the openings at that company. They do not work specifically with teachers in transition to find them jobs.
When you develop a relationship with a recruiter, like Garvey, for example, they can then present you as a vetted and qualified candidate to an employer for which she is hiring.
For example, Garvey was recently hiring for business operations coordinator, marketing specialist, research analyst, and research associate roles in Arlington, VA. If you were a job seeker and had a relationship with Garvey or another recruiter, they could present you as a candidate for these job openings. By building that relationship with a recruiter in advance, one can cut down the time it takes to search for a job.
“A recruiter or recruiting firm can help narrow down potential employers and also connect you with people you may not meet otherwise,” says Garvey. “A recruiter can’t work magic, and it’s important to realize you still need to search on your own, but oftentimes a recruiter can give you a boost in your career search and set you apart from other applicants. Make sure you’re working with a recruiter who understands your career goals and desires.”
Believe in Yourself When Starting a New Job Search
One of the biggest mistakes teachers make, Garvey says, is selling themselves short in the networking and interview process.
“Have confidence that the skills you’ve been crafting in your career in education will be valuable,” she says.
“Exude that confidence when you talk to potential employers and in your networking. Companies want to hire people with confidence in their abilities, and teachers and educators have plenty to brag about!
Employers: Think Outside the Box When Hiring
Garvey encourages recruiters to think outside the box and consider teachers and educators for open roles, even if they don’t fit into the mold of the perfect candidate.
“With an open mind, potential employers will realize just how many desirable skills educators have,” says Garvey. “From creativity to problem-solving, to content creation, to effective time management and task completion, to outreach, to fundraising…I could go on and on, but the point is that teachers and educators are under an incredible amount of pressure and stress each day, wear many hats, and must embrace this while getting the job done at the end of the day, no excuses.”
Career Transition for Teachers: 3 Job Search Tips
Garvey offered these additional tips for teachers in career transition:
- Rework your resume: “This doesn’t have to be fancy, but when I began to look for positions outside of education, I realized that much of what was on my resume was very tailored to the education world,” says Garvey.
- Make a list of potential companies you may have an interest in working for: Think of all the products and services you use daily and that your district engages with. Then when you see a potential opening, you can be confident in applying since it’s on your shortlist.
- Network: Begin to confide in trusted individuals that you’re looking for other opportunities outside of traditional education. Ask for connections, introductions, and advice. Take it all and formulate the next steps based on what you receive. In my opinion, networking is a critical skill in any profession. Sometimes it’s “who you know” that can provide an opportunity you may not have otherwise received without a connection.
If you’re a teacher or educator in transition, use these tips to confidently network, search for a job, and interview for that new opportunity. If you’re an employer, give a teacher a chance—you will be glad you did.