Why teachers can’t get a job outside of education

There’s a mass exodus from the teaching profession, and teachers with 10, 20, even 30+ years of experience, some just a smidge away from retirement, are trying to get out (yes, it’s that bad right now).

But they’re finding that they’re stuck.They’re understandably frustrated and confused about why they’re not marketable even in entry-level roles.

“Teaching is the world’s most difficult profession!” I’ve heard this over and over again. So why aren’t seasoned professionals who have skills in people management, data analysis, problem solving, persuasion, oral communication, relationship building, and on and on, getting snapped up when they go out onto the job market?

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When you graduate college with your education degree, there’s a fairly low barrier to entry into a teaching job. In most cases, you’ll apply through a computerized system with your one and only resume and after a brief and fairly relaxed interview (if you’re even interviewed) you get hired. Thanks, perpetual teaching shortage!

That means teachers don’t get much exposure to the culture of job-getting. Interview experience begets good interview skills. Applying for multiple roles builds a tacit understanding that your resume is a sales document, selling you the job candidate as the commodity that will solve the problems a potential employer needs you to solve on the job.

Most of the teachers we talk with believe erroneously that the resume is a static record of their employment history, and so when they shop such a resume around (which indeed screams, I can teach, but that’s it) they’re overlooked. This is to say nothing of machine screeners for private industry that don’t register education jargon like “differentiated instruction” or “IEP” or “cooperative learning.”

That's why teachers should approach job openings of interest with an eye toward what problems that employer needs their service in solving.

They then need to create, from the ground up, a resume that presents a compelling case that they’re the one who can solve those problems.

Finally, we want them to understand how to leverage keywords from job openings to create resumes that get them past machine screeners.

All of this is why we created Goldendelicious.

As teachers in the U.S. look to return to a new school year this month, the situation they face is dire. Many, many jobs changed drastically as a result of the pandemic, but we're convinced the quality of life in the workplace for teachers has suffered the most.

We hear stories like this one: a teacher related that his principal requested all teachers to come in on a Saturday to clean the school building, including the bathrooms and other common areas. They were asked to bring their own cleaning supplies and wouldn’t be given any extra compensation for their time or effort. And clearly this is outside of the scope of their contract.

Many of the teachers who look to leave do so because of involuntary transfers. Some have reported to school to teach, say, 4th grade, which they’ve taught forever and represents their certification area, only to be informed they’re going to be re-assigned to teach 8th grade. Imagine showing up to work to do a job for which you were hired and then being told, just kidding, you’re going to do this whole OTHER job?

Others have been told now, just weeks before school starts, that they’re being transferred against their will and in violation of their contracts, to entirely different schools altogether.

In Florida so many have left that they’re bringing in military veterans and their spouses to teach with no requirements for teaching certification, subject matter knowledge, or even a bachelor’s degree.

Teachers who tried all summer to land a job outside of education before having to sign a new contract to come back to a job they’re dreading to face again are broken-hearted. The jobs they loved don’t exist anymore, and they don’t see any way out.

Ultimately, if history is any indication, market forces will work this issue out. But in the mean time, our students may have teachers who are supremely unhappy but unable to leave. And these are not the conditions students learn best under, nor are they the kinds of conditions we should subject our teachers to, the selfless people who devote themselves to providing those students with an excellent education.