Sunday, 6 April 2014

Finding A New Career

(If you're a newcomer to this blog and you'd like to start the story of how I came to leave teaching from the beginning, then click here.)

Last time I had a bit of a moan about being a supply teacher but it served its purpose; it gave me time to look for another job.

Each week I tried to keep Friday free to look for alternative work. This didn't always work as sometimes a school would want me for a full week. But some weeks I would have a couple of days to look for jobs so it all evened out over time. This is time that I just didn't have as a teacher. The thought of even applying for another job within teaching seemed like too much of an effort. Supply teaching was a necessary evil.

I read a very good book about changing careers that I can wholeheartedly recommend: What Colour is Your Parachute by Richard N. Bolles. There's loads of good stuff in there but there were two main things that I took from it. As a teacher I got into the mind frame that I couldn't do anything else, that I was just a teacher and teaching didn't apply to anything else in the real world. The book taught me to change the way I viewed myself, not as a teacher but as someone with a set of skills. You've probably seen a list of these transferable skills before but it comes as a bit of a shock to see just how many skills I had as a teacher: communication skills, analytical skills, patience, persistence etc.

With this (large) set of skills under my belt possibilities started to open up. But here comes a problem. There was virtually no way that I was going to jump straight into a job with a similar salary. I was going to have to start off at the bottom and work my way up, if - and that's a big "if" - I wanted to. In the job that I finally got, people assume that I'm going to want to move up the ladder quickly and are suggesting ways that I can do this. But I'll come back to this at a later stage. As I mentioned in my last post changing careers is a low risk strategy because there is always teaching to go back to if circumstances change. And let's face facts, there will always be teaching jobs available. If you're anything like me though, once you're out, there is no way in a million years that you'd ever go back.

The other great bit of advice the book has to offer is how to go about finding a new job. I thought of all of the things that I liked doing and made a list: painting, woodwork, gardening, music, film-making, animals. I thought about contacts who I had made whilst teaching, for example, I had links with a local arts cinema who had an education department. I also looked into working at an animal sanctuary or a vets. While I was engaged in this pretty exciting process I had the opportunity to make a small promotion film for the local council. This eventually led to me volunteering at the place where I finally got a job. (Again, we'll come back to this later.) 

The point that the book makes is that sending out CVs and looking on the internet for jobs will get you nowhere. I've heard quite a few people say that they look on the internet every day but there are no jobs out there. There are. But you've just got to be more proactive in finding them. It involves getting out there meeting people, asking questions and possibly volunteering. Let's take my vets example. I could have gone around all of the vets in the local area asking them what I would need to do to become a veterinary nurse. Would I need any qualifications? Could I get these qualifications whilst working? What are the pay and conditions? Would I be able to volunteer to see if I like the job? And most importantly, have they got any positions available. 

A lot of jobs never even hit the internet. They are filled by the manager knowing someone or having someone recommended. If you show your enthusiasm for the job by actually turning up at their workplace you're more likely to find these hidden jobs. True story - my wife needed a job quickly when her University course went a bit pear shaped. She set off from one end of town and went into every shop and asked if they had any job vacancies. Eventually she got one at H. Samuels. It was temporary but at the end of her stint they were more than willing to keep her on. This was all done in one day. Admittedly it may take longer to find your ideal job but the principal is the same. 

So have a think about the skills you have, your interests and the people you already know who you would be able to talk to. Jobs can come from the strangest of circumstances as the rest of my story will show next time