One of our newer Sourcers/Recruiters, Rachel Harris, is a former school teacher who found herself making a switch from 12 years of teaching experience into entry level business positions. She had been a recruiter prior to starting with Brightwing, and has great advice for navigating an entire career change:
Maybe I’m a little dramatic, but I called them my “signs from God.” Over the last few years, a series of personal and professional events occurred, each providing, in my mind, more confirmation that it was time for me to seek a new career path. At that point, I’d been teaching for my entire adult life; so what does one do with a BA in English, other than teach? Honestly, I didn’t put a lot of thought into it: I just trusted that I’d find something. In hindsight, the leap-of-faith route, while it has worked out so far, probably wasn’t the best way to go. As luck would have it, though, I fell into recruiting – head first, baptism-by-fire style, at least with my first opportunity. After the company I originally recruited for closed its doors last summer, I found myself back in the job-seeker boat, but, this time, I went about the process of finding something new in a much more organized fashion.
I found that my organized job search involved asking myself a series of questions: “What do I want to be when I grow up?” I still don’t necessarily know the answer (and maybe I never will), “What do I like to do?” “ What am I good at?” and finally, “What would I be interested in learning more about?” When facing an entire career change, I had hoped that knowing myself would help me find a career that I would thoroughly enjoy. Feel free to apply these tactics when/ if you also decided to make such a change.
As for actually finding an opportunity in the career field you’ve chosen, that’s the big challenge.
Once you figure out what you want to be, at least for the time being, the next challenge is finding a job where you can actually do what you are setting out to do. I had 12 years of professional experience under my belt, but no “practical” experience outside the classroom. In the eyes of hiring managers, I was entry-level all over again. It seemed like no one wanted to hear about my communication skills or presentation skills or clerical skills or… you get the idea. Applying on job boards, while it’s ultimately how I found my first post-teaching gig, doesn’t usually get you very far. I have no idea how many jobs I applied for, but I rarely got anything back. Frustrating! The key is getting your resume in front of people. The two ways that I found were the most effective were: Finding a reputable recruiter and also network like crazy.
When it’s time to actually explore job opportunities, determine what’s important to you. If job-satisfaction is your goal, be picky. Although it’s not always practical, don’t just take the first offer that’s thrown your way, just for the sake of having a J-O-B. One of my favorite questions to ask potential candidates is, “What factors will play into your decision whether to take a job or not? Do you have any must-haves or deal-breakers?” For some people it’s money; for some it’s the job itself; for some, benefits; for others, the company culture and environment. If you’ve thought these things through, it’ll help ensure a good match between yourself and your future employer.
I do miss some aspects of teaching – the students (maybe not all of them), my colleagues, my classroom, – but I’m much happier in my work than I have been in years. I’ve found a career that matches my skill set: I’m relatively organized; I like to talk a lot and listen well; I have years of experience asking and evaluating responses to questions. At the same time, it definitely pushes me out if my comfort zone.