How to Craft Your Teacher Career Change Resume + Ace Your Interview

Once you’ve decided that you want to leave the classroom, the next big question on your mind is, “What career am I going to pursue?”  Well, there are two different ways you can go…the employee route or the entrepreneur route.

The entrepreneur route means that you go into business for yourself. Maybe you start a website, a boutique, a virtual assistant business, an online tutoring business, a photography business, or a TpT shop. The career is irrelevant; the important thing to note is that as an entrepreneur, you are going into business for yourself.

The employee route means that you choose to work for another individual or company. Again, we are less concerned with who hires you and more interested in how to get you hired for the job of your dreams.

So in today’s episode, we are going to focus on the employee route and how writing a teacher career change resume will help you land some of the best jobs for teachers outside of education. The cool part about what I’m sharing is that these tips will help you in getting hired for ANY position.

But we are going to spend the majority of our time unpacking some of the specifics you might not have considered when you began thinking about landing the best jobs for teachers outside of the classroom.

So let’s discuss the 15 things you need to do to design a winning teacher career change resume and land your dream job outside of teaching.

Creating Your Teacher Career Change Resume

1| Write specifically

Everyone has a resume, but there is a lot of difference between a “leaving teaching resume that includes all of your teaching experience and literally nothing else” and a well-planned, well-executed specific resume.

Think about it like this. There are dollar store pens and then there are flair pens…I rest my case.

The whole point of writing a resume is to give the applicant board as much relevant information as possible in as little space as possible.

So you want your transition out of teaching resume to be unique and a nice reflection of you while still being completely tailored to the position for which you are applying.

Your resume shouldn’t be generic. I know this may feel frustrating when you’re applying for a lot of positions at once, but I promise it will pay off in the long run. You definitely want your resume to reflect specifics of the field and position into which you want to move.

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2| Research transferable skills

Be sure to listen to Episode #5 where we discuss the top transferable skills that teachers possess that makes you a prime candidate for any job you want. Think about what types of transferable skills you have that apply to the particular field you are interested in.

The most important part about this is remembering that each field of study and each niche has its own language. So you want to take time to figure out which of the skills are your strengths and then translate those into the niche-specific buzzwords that particular community uses.

Then add those words onto your teacher career change resume so the application board knows you have the skills they are seeking.

3| Use niche-specific language

I mentioned this in tip 2, but you want to make sure that you speak the language of the people in your potential career. Most professions have a “lingo” and you want to be sure that you know the lingo of your chosen field of interest.

Think about teaching. We use words and acronyms like social-emotional learning (SEL), individualized education plan (IEP), and curriculum-based assessment (CBA).

If you stopped people on the street and asked them what these acronyms meant, most probably wouldn’t have any idea what you were talking about. However, if you are a new teacher wanting to get hired, these acronyms are important for you to know.

This same rule applies for other fields. If you want to break into a community or niche outside of the world of education, you need to learn the lingo. The best way to do this is by using Google and type in common acronyms for (fill in the blank of the field).

Once you understand the common acronyms for that field, you will want to compare these to your transferable teacher skills and see which ones are similar. Then research the buzzwords in the niche of the job you hope to pursue to find even more gold to add to your teacher career change resume.

4| Be prepared

You would think this would be supremely obvious, but according to my husband, who does interviews regularly for his job, the number of individuals who come to interviews completely unprepared is staggering.

So after researching the lingo (including buzzwords & acronyms) of your potential profession, make sure you research the specific position you hope to get as well as the company you want to join.

Make certain that your career goals align with the motto and beliefs of this particular company. You don’t want to go through the trouble of interviewing, getting offered the position, and working for one day only to realize you don’t agree with the company’s position on an important issue.

Once you determine you are a good fit for the company, take some time to look online for interview questions related to your chosen field and formulate answers as a way to prepare for the questions you might be asked in an interview.

This will instill confidence in you and help you get into the mindset of someone who already has the position…before you ever walk through the door of the interview.

5| Reach out to someone at the company

If you want to be prepared for a potential interview, then you need to know about the company and also the workers there.

You can call the company and ask to speak with someone in the department to which you are applying or ask to speak with the supervisor about the position.

Be respectful of this individual’s time and ask if he/she has 5 minutes to answer a couple of quick questions about the position. If the person is busy, let him/her call you at a more convenient time because the last thing you want to do is be a nuisance.

Ask a few preselected questions that will help you understand more about the work environment, the position itself, and the supervisor. Remember, to write these ahead of time so you don’t waste time trying to think of them on the spot.

The point of this exercise is to get a little extra insight and to get your name in front of the individual early.

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Nailing Your Teacher Career Change Interview

6| Know what you’re interviewing for

This may seem ridiculous, but there are so many people who just saunter into interviews with no idea what they’re even interviewing for. My husband sees this all the time.

He is always astounded by how many individuals step into an interview completely clueless about the position. Ultimately, the interviewee is simply wasting everyone’s time.

This is a very frustrating situation…especially when an interview panel has a full day of interviews. Make sure you’ve spent time studying the position and dissecting the job requirements and duties so that you can answer the questions in an interview well.

Think about the specific skills you bring to the table that will allow you to be an asset to the company and how those skills set you up as the perfect candidate for the position.

7| Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses

In every interview, there is always the obligatory “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” question. While it may be phrased in a number of different ways, this is the moment for you to shine.

You want to spend time talking about what you have to offer the company that makes you the obvious choice of candidate. Then you want to be honest about your weaknesses in a way that does not make you look like a liability. Let me give you some examples.

Instead of saying this…

  • I’m a terrible speller.
  • I hate people.
  • I’m OCD about organization.

Say this…

  • I appreciate spell check as spelling isn’t my strong suit.
  • I work best independently as I tend to be introverted by nature.
  • I thrive in a tidy workspace. I’m not a fan of disorganization.

The point here is for you to admit your weaknesses, but in a way that doesn’t take you out of the running for this particular position.

8| Don’t assume anything

You cannot assume the interview panel knows anything you don’t say or that you haven’t told them during the meeting. You may have written something in your application or even in your resume, but you still need to mention it during the interview as needed. 

This is especially important if you happen to know someone on the interview board or you have worked at this particular company before. They are only able to write down things you say during the meeting and if you don’t say it, it might get overlooked elsewhere.

Also remember to avoid the word etcetera.

This is something people say when they’ve been asked a question that they aren’t fully prepared to answer. They will say “etcetera” to fill in the space of those things they can’t think of during the interview.

But remember, the interviewers don’t know what etcetera covers unless you clarify it. So just leave it out of the conversation completely.

9| Answer ALL of the questions

Another issue that my husband sees frequently in interviews is candidates not answering all of the questions. For example, the interviewer might ask you something like this…“Name some skills that you feel would be important to have to do this job effectively. Then tell us your strongest skill.”

Potential candidates answer with their strongest skill while completely ignoring the first part of the question. This isn’t an encouraging start for interviewers because they want an employee that actually listens.

So listen carefully to the questions asked and answer ALL of them as succinctly (and thoroughly) as possible.

Now what I just said might seem a bit like an oxymoron. How are you supposed to answer a question succinctly and thoroughly? Think of it like this…

You want to include as much information as needed to answer the question(s) completely without talking in circles and repeating yourself 53 times. You want to prove that you have a thoughtful answer while also being respectful of the interviewers’ time. 

10| Dress Appropriately

It doesn’t matter if you are applying for a non-profit, a grocery store, or a Fortune 500 company, you want to dress appropriately. Think about the old adage…Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have!!

Even if the place you’re interviewing at has “Casual Fridays” and you happen to be getting an interview on one of these days, you are not yet an employee and those rules don’t apply to you. So think about how a professional would dress and dress accordingly.

Men should wear a suit and tie or at the bare minimum a polo shirt and nice slacks. If you come in with wrinkled khakis and a shirt 2 sizes too small, you are not going to make a good impression.

Women should wear a nice pair of slacks or skirt with a MODEST dressy top or dress if you feel more comfortable. Leggings (unless under a dress), low cut or revealing tops, and bra straps make a terrible first impression.

Remember, you will be the face of this particular company to the world and they don’t want sloppily-dressed individuals representing their brand. And even the best teacher career change resume will not cover up the negative impression a poorly dressed applicant gives during the interview.

11| Don’t fidget

When we get nervous, we do annoying things without even realizing it. We tend to tap our pencils, shift in our seats, click our pens, or clear our throats because we literally don’t know what to do with ourselves. 

But this is super-distracting to the interviewers. That’s why practicing with someone prior to your actual interview can be really helpful.

You can simulate the interview environment (including paper, pen, or pencil on the table) to see if you have any fidget or annoying habit that will cause the interviewers to be distracted. After the simulation, the person can give you feedback on things you are doing well and things you need to work on before completing your interview.

12| Show interest

It is sad to even have to mention this, but another thing my husband has mentioned that amazes him is how little people seem to care about the job for which they are interviewing. There have been times he wanted to ask the interviewee if they actually even wanted the job.

To avoid this, be forthcoming with all of the information you have to share and don’t make the interview panel prod you for answers. This doesn’t make a good impression and since the goal is to land this job, you want to show interest.

If you don’t feel like you’ve had the opportunity to truly express why you want the job, at the end say something like…

  • “I want this position because…”
  • “I would like the opportunity to work here because…”

Then mention anything you gleaned during your conversation with the supervisor in your pre-interview phone conversation. This may be exactly what they’ve been waiting for someone to say!

13| Don’t be afraid to ask questions at the end

In many interviews, you will be given the opportunity to ask questions of the panel. Be sure to take advantage of the time and ask any clarifying questions.

You want to make sure you’ve already determined the types of questions you want to ask BEFORE you step into the interview though so you don’t forget them when you get nervous. You might even want to write them down and pull out your note at the end.

This will allow you to show the panel how serious you are about the position and also give you the opportunity to ask any questions that you would like answered related to work environment, their favorite things about working for the company, and how long they have been with the company.

Staying Front of Mind

14| Send a thank you

This is such an important part of the interview process. You want to thank the supervisor for the opportunity to interview for the position. This can be done “old school” style by sending a physical thank you note or card or it can be sent via email.

Make sure you are specific so that it doesn’t appear to simply be a canned response that you send to everyone. This is also one more way for your name to stay in front of the supervisor’s mind.

15| Ask for feedback

After you have sent your thank you email, you will find out whether or not you were chosen as the candidate for hire. If you did NOT get hired, don’t be afraid to reach out to the supervisor and see if he/she could give you a little insight into why you didn’t get the position.

This isn’t a power move; it’s simply a way for you to determine what you could have done better. But if you are going to go to the trouble of asking what you could have done better, be sure to listen carefully to feedback given to you.

Then take the time to turn that feedback into  better interviewing skills. And who knows? You may be able to use this insight to secure a different position with the company in the future.

Woman talking to a former teacher about his teacher career change resume

These 15 tips are designed to help you create an amazing teacher career change resume and deliver an awe-inspiring interview that leaves the company begging for you to work for them.

You are an extremely enticing candidate, but it is your job to show these companies just how badly they need you on their team.

So take time to create a standout resume designed for the position to which you are applying, prepare for the interview, arrive at the interview dressed professionally and confident that you are the best candidate.

You can do this!

If you know you need some help designing a teacher career change resume and strategic interview coaching, I can help! As a coach, I love helping clients leave the classroom ready to begin their new career with confidence. Click the button below for your free 30 minute Zoom call.

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Discovery Call?

Understanding what you need to include in your resume is crucial if you plan to leave the classroom. Let me give you personalized insight into your next best steps!