When I returned home from my travels, I spent months applying for job outside of teaching. I collated my teaching experience, volunteered and tried my darnedest to find jobs that I felt I was qualified for.
Much to my surprise at first, I heard nothing back. ‘Not a trend exclusively within the teaching sector then,’ I observed. I felt pretty crappy for a long while and really doubted my transferable skills.
I made a few mistakes in the process however and I will share them with you now.
Oversight #1  I wasn’t self aware enough
I wasn’t fully aware of what my transferable skills were and I hadn’t really done enough research into the skills and qualifications necessary for the jobs I was applying for.  I was hoping for the best but with no concrete evidence that things this way would work out for me. I didn’t want to go back to university (I couldn’t afford to!) and with both an arts degree and HDIP I wasn’t thrilled at the idea anyway. In retrospect, what is my advice – Don’t jump into things straight away – do lots of journaling, volunteer in an area/s that may be connected to the direction you’d like to move in, do psychometric tests, ask others of your strengths and weaknesses
Oversight #2 I hadn’t prepared enough before I took my career break
Because my intention initially for my career break was to travel- I’d not put any thought into other careers, best CV practice, recruitment agencies, interview skills etc. and when I returned home, I found this stage extremely challenging. If you’re thinking of taking a career break or changing job in the coming months, start taking action now.
Oversight #3 I tried to do things alone
At first, I prepared my CV and cover letters and set up my online job profiles alone. It never struck me to share the job advertisements and my documents with anyone to look for feedback and for assistance to discover my ‘blind-spot’. I think of my blind-spot in job seeking terms as the areas that I’m unaware of in which I have little/no experience or skills in for a necessary aspect of the job. It may be that I’ve not noticed the gap in my application or that simply, I’m not qualified for the job. Often, another person may spot this if given the advert and my CV. I find that it’s easier for another person to put themselves in the shoes of an employer than it is the person applying for the job.
Reach out to friends and family, coaches, charities (I found Jobcare a wonderful support), recruitment agencies, your LinkedIn network and the Citizens Advice Bureau perhaps to help you. Just seek help and try not do things alone.
With these insights in mind…. what can you do to help yourself prepare for the change?
Tailoring your CV
If you’re taking a U turn from the career your currently in my top tip is to really highlight within your CV and cover letter – the strengths you’ve gained over the past number of years. Outline how you are now a master communicator after x/y/z. You play an important role as leader of a/b/c. Reduce the emphasis on the actual School/Location and use your bullet points and Power Verbs to show the important role you’ve played as facilitator, leader, team player, ICT support, critical thinker, policy maker etc.
Use Power Verbs
Power verbs make a massive difference to highlight the wide range of experience that you have in your current role. By beginning each bullet point with a power verb it is easy to see if you’re repeating the same type of experience for each position you’ve been in. When did you take on extra responsibility? What did it entail? Power verbs can help a great deal in showing your wealth of experience.
Make the best use of space
Generally, a CV should be 2 pages maximum. There are lots of free, clearly laid out templates available online. Find the best template suitable for your purpose and experience. It’s fine to say (unless they’re asked for in the advert) that ‘Referees are available on request’.
Finally, from my experience, tailoring your CV to find a job outside of the education sector is no easier than applying for jobs in the education sector!! Expect not to hear back from adverts. Expect to feel somewhat rejected and the process to take some time. Have that community of people around you to build you up and to take you bowling to get your mind off things.
“It’s because the best things in life are never easy. And the more you fight for something, the more you know that it was meant to be.” – Christine Brae
If you need any help on your career change journey I’m here to help. Let me know by dropping me a message or an email to hello@orladempseycoaching.ie


Are you ready to explore new options in life? Are you feeling tired and frustrated? Do you spend your time planning lessons for others and not enough time planning your own life? Are your personal and professional relationships suffering at the moment? Are you ready for a change?

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