A reader wrote to tell me about her lost teaching job. I know many of you can relate to what she is feeling, even if you’re not a teacher. Here’s what she wrote and my response:
Hi Ronnie Ann,
I’m so down in the dumps I feel like crying. I am a school teacher who’s pilot program was discontinued over the summer due to budget cuts. Since June when I lost my teaching job, I’ve been applying in a three county-wide area. There haven’t been many jobs, and most of the time I’m not even contacted for an interview.
Of the three interviews I’ve had, I felt things had gone well only to be the one NOT chosen. I have 10 years of experience and have even written over 40 teacher resource books. My references are great, and I’ve also been certified in Gifted and Talented as well as ESOL
I am told that around here it’s not what you know, but who you know – but that’s such an old excuse I don’t know if I believe it.
I’m about ready to quit teaching for good. For 6 months, I’ve been trying to look on the bright side, but that bright side’s a’fadin’ fast! Any words of encouragement?
My response to Susana:
I’m so sorry about your lost teaching job. Oh how I wish I knew someone near you. I’d make that call to get you a job in a minute!
In the meantime … and I speak from MUCH personal experience here … sometimes life sends change our way whether we want it or not. But I’ve always found new doors open up for me when I chose to go with the flow and see what else was out there for me. And maybe even see how I can apply experiences I have to new directions.
I feel there may be something out there you never would have found had all these roadblocks not arisen. You have SO much to offer. We just need to figure out how to get you looking in places where those exact skills are needed and where the right people are there for you to connect with!
That said … I just want to say that wherever you live, knowing people (networking) is one of the best ways to get a job, especially in a tight economy. So whether that’s really what’s going on, it’s important to add good networking contacts to your job-hunting tool kit ASAP.
Some things that might help
First … are there any organizations that you or those close to you belong to that can help provide you some of those networking connections you need? If you haven’t already done so, enlist the help of everyone you know – even some you barely know. 🙂
This can include things like social groups, trade organizations, sports clubs, and even connections to local universities / colleges. If not, can you find one or two to join? Even if it won’t help immediately, it can help lay the groundwork for the future.
Take a temporary detour if needed
Next … there is no reason to quit teaching or anything you love for good. There’s always a way back…even if you need to take a temporary detour. Are there non-profits or governmental organizations related to education you might link up with?
Where I live, there are many organizations who could use the help of someone with your excellent credentials (as an employee or consultant) in helping to create new programs, develop curriculum, raise funds, lobby for necessary changes, etc. (Try Idealist or some online job searches to see the kind of things near you.)
People with knowledge of education can even help elected officials or quasi-governmental policy groups. I have a friend who lobbies for special needs kids even though she lives in a fairly remote area of the country.
Not all new paths obvious
I’ve had MANY detours in my life, and then, sometimes when I’m not even looking, a job comes along that needs my skills, including some I thought were long in the past. The universe offers endless paths to where you need to go — not all paths are linear.
On that point and for a little extra inspiration, here’s a post from another blog I used to write:
If right now you feel like it’s time to let go of teaching in the way you’ve known it, that may be very well a great and exciting next step. The types of skills you have are needed in many places. Besides non-profits, companies need good trainers.
So do places like technology firms, where you might be helping people understand new systems. Maybe even text book publishing houses or editing firms. And I’m sure you can come up with other possibilities if you let your mind wander free.
But if teaching is your goal…
If you absolutely want to continue as a teacher where you are, then start networking as soon as you can. Meanwhile, either take some temp work or other work to make ends meet, or … if you are able…find the very best volunteer situation possible where your skills can be a huge asset to people.
These situations can often lead to real jobs down the road – especially as your networking circle grows and your reputation expands. It’s a good way to redirect your career. (In fact, I’m about to do something like that myself right now.)
More thoughts about lost teaching job
Besides continuing to look where you are (no reason not to despite all the rejections), can you look for teaching jobs elsewhere or do you need to stay where you are? Could this maybe be a great opportunity to move elsewhere?
Even if none of that works for you, the one thing I do know is this. No matter what your situation may be, when I’ve had these things happen to me what helped was putting the power back into my own hands.
So I let myself think “outside the box” and look beyond what I thought I wanted in that moment. Well … whole new areas opened up for me that I never could have imagined. And, although admittedly bumpy at times, I can tell you it was all good!
As I see it, this is a chance for a brand new start rather than being held down by closed doors. Closed doors in one direction can simply be a sign pointing you to where you really need to go!
I wish you all the best, Susana. Please feel free to let us know what happens.
~ Ronnie Ann
[Post updated in 2020]
About the author…
Ronnie Ann, founder of Work To the Wise and Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development, as well as her many adventures as a serial job seeker.
Some posts to help