Top Five Cover Letter Tips for Changing Careers to Teaching
Career changers have many different motivations for leaving the business world or other occupations and going into teaching. Some have been involved in business training and education and want to teach full time. Others have just seen their children off to school and are seeking full-time employment.
The career switcher almost always has related experience that has motivated the move into education. They may have worked as a corporate trainer and have no experience in a classroom or maybe they taught ESL part-time. Over the last 16 years, I am sure I have seen every type of career transition – surprise me with your career situation, if you can.
Whatever experience you bring to your new job search, the onus is on you to show how your past experience makes you well suited for the teaching position you are applying for. To help you make a convincing case and position yourself for your new career, I have compiled my cover letter tips for changing careers to teaching.
You may think you have no experience as a teacher, but you will have relevant experiences, skills, and accomplishments once we start digging for them.
With more applicants than there are positions available, it's important to write teacher cover letters that get you noticed. The biggest mistake I see applicants make is sending a standard cover letter and resume and expecting the hiring manager to connect the dots. It is the teaching job applicant's responsibility to emphasize related education and work experience, highlight transferable skills, and demonstrate what other steps are being taken (e.g., courses, internships) to prepare for the job transition.
Getting into teaching can be quite a challenge, if the career changer is not prepared. Whether you are looking for a new challenge, have always had a passion to teach, or just fancy a change, a newly focused teacher cover letter and resume that shows your readiness and enthusiasm for a teaching career will jump out of a stack of resumes.
Tips for Writing a Cover Letter to Transition into Teaching
1. Emphasize Relevant Career Experience
Many career changers I work with feel frustrated by a lack of relevant experience. More often than not, they fail to recognize solid teaching- related skills they possess. Relevant experience to teaching should take center stage in your teacher cover letter and resume.
I like to probe clients to survey their life experience, since many of us have played different teaching roles in various capacities, such as volunteer work and sports mentoring.
Begin your application letter with teaching-related experience. Cover letters do not have to follow chronological order like resumes, and thus provide more flexibility to position yourself for a targeted position.
An applicant with corporate training experience or ESL teaching during college years may want to bring forward this experience. Many careers share core skills with teaching:
- Nurse to teacher is a natural given the strong human relations skills required and experience instructing patients in health, post-operative care, and other areas.
- Corporate trainers, team leaders and project managers lead teams, mentor, instruct, and assess performance.
- Social workers and counsellors are experts in personal and professional development.
Many professionals seek to teach and share their area of expertise, such as:
- Computer programmers
Going back to school to sharpen teaching skills could be on your to do list to make a career transition to higher education.
Stay-at-home mothers who are re-entering the workplace have lots of fresh experience teaching and training their children. Over-relying on mommy duties in place of hard teaching skills, however, could weaken your teacher cover letter.
Examples of related experience worth mentioning would be running a daycare, volunteering to conduct reading help twice a week at you child's school, or teaching Sunday school or at the library. The school wants to know what behavioral management strategies and lessons you will use to engage individual students in a classroom.
2. Make a List of Transferable Teaching Skills
Matching transferable skills from your previous work experience to the targeted teaching job can help you identify skills and competencies valued in a teacher. To ensure you do not miss valuable transferable skills, compare teaching job ads with those of your profession.
Most managers today, for example, receive training in coaching, facilitation and mentoring – all valuable teaching skills that are often not mentioned in the cover letter.
Following is a list of core skills teachers should possess:
- Mentoring and Training
- Program Development
- Making Presentations
- Creativity and Imagination
- Problem Solving
- Team Building
- And the list goes on…
Many professionals find their love for teaching guiding the professional development of employees, so we have a lot of knowledge on making a career transition to a school teacher from a corporate trainer and other popular transition routes. Career switchers often also overlook many basic skills, such as working with training tools, videos, education software, and online learning apps.
3. Communicating Your Teaching Skills
Many career switchers transition to an education career using transferable skills. Showing how you apply these skills will help demonstrate how you will function in a classroom environment.
Videos of you in front a class training 30 employees will show you operating efficiently in a teaching context. Make a point of describing, in your cover letter, the practical ways in which you have demonstrated and continue to develop these skills. Both hard and soft skills should be demonstrated.
If you require more experience, ask at your children's school for volunteer opportunities. Reference letters from schools will give your teaching skills real credibility.
Conduct an informational interview with teachers and principals. Many teachers will be happy to review your resume and provide guidance on how you can strengthen your application.
4. Show Contributions to Performance Improvements in Student Achievement
Like businesses, schools have to demonstrate their effectiveness by meeting academic performance standards. Your class' performance will not only measure your teaching effectiveness but will also become part of regional and national education performance rankings.
Demonstration of your ability to improve the performance of your students will be highly persuasive evidence of your teaching ability.
Examples of relevant teacher work experience to draw skills from includes:
- Grading of trainings, conferences and workshops you have developed. Participants are often asked to provide both quantitative (on a scale of 1 to 5) and qualitative reviews (remarks) of business training events.
- Quantitative evidence of the progress of students of your corporate trainings.
- Reviews of your performance by your superiors.
- Association and magazine rankings and rewards that reflect your performance, individually, or as part of a group or company.
5. Demonstrate a Commitment to Education
The last impression you want to give is as a job seeker who is chasing the hottest job trends. Schools want teachers with a passion for teaching, not a job seeker seeking a job in a recession-proof industry. In your teacher cover letter, communicate an awareness of current issues and trends in education. Join education associations and take teachings workshops.
Join social media groups. LinkedIn groups provide an opportunity to share information on targeted positions through groups for K-12 teachers, science and math teachers, special education teachers, and so on. Read education blogs and subscribe to education magazines.
Most importantly, research the school district and school and show knowledge of their educational curriculum and challenges, and how you can help address them. Your letter should convey someone who knows what's currently going on in education.
If you know someone who has previously transitioned into teaching, speak to them and find out if they can offer you any additional tips. Someone who has recently been through the application process can often offer valuable information about what is particularly important to include.
Seek out teachers who have made the transition into teaching. What challenges did they encounter? What tips can they offer?
Once you have developed a cover letter that presents your teaching skills and qualifications, proofread and reread your letter. Have others proofread it for you. Prospective teachers are expected to have excellent standards of literacy and numeracy.
Whether you are trying to transition from a business career to teaching or making a career transition from military to teaching, your cover letter should communicate your qualifications, related experience and preparedness.
To ensure you are ready for a teaching career, review 10 questions to ask if you are considering changing careers to teaching. The earlier you start evaluating you career transition, the sooner you can sign up for the courses, workshops and social media networks you need to sharpen your teaching skill set.
To present a convincing case for your career transition to teaching, review our resume and cover letter samples.
Need some writing assistance making an excellent professional career change resume, or CV curriculum vitae? Take the time to review and order one of our resume packages or individual services.
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Have questions, please connect by sending an email to Candace or call toll-free at 1 877 738-8052. I would enjoy chatting with you.
When changing fields, especially early on in your career, it's important to outline your value proposition to a potential employer. View our cover letter sample below for a job seeker looking to make an early career change.
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September 28, 2010
Mr. Quincy Simpson
Anytown, NY 11111
Dear Mr. Simpson:
If you are searching for a pharmaceutical sales representative with the ability to maximize sales within an assigned territory, we should speak. Currently a loan officer, it is my goal to leverage my relationship-building and strategic-sales skills to transition from the mortgage industry to the pharmaceutical sales sector.
I started contemplating this career change after graduating from Brooklyn College with a bachelor's degree in biology in 2007, but I wanted to take steps to prepare for the transition. In the last few years, I have been mentoring under an experienced pharmaceutical sales rep (who currently works for ABC Co.), and studying pharmaceutical product lines across various therapeutic classes. Armed with this industry research and product foundation, I am confident that I would be a successful rep for XYZ Corporation.
I also developed skills in the mortgage industry that are relevant to pharmaceutical sales. The loan process is highly consultative, and I demonstrated strengths in building positive relationships, offering excellent customer service and coaching clients throughout the process. Always focused on exceeding production goals, last year I:
- Originated and closed $8.5 million in residential loans.
- Held "Top Loan Originator" honors for the NY region.
- Earned "Top Producer" ranking for GHI Loan Company, sourcing a partnership that enabled a new product offering.