January 21

7 Good Reasons for Leaving a Teaching Job – For your Resume or CV

One of the biggest concerns that educators looking to leave the profession have .. is having a good reason for leaving teaching to explain to prospective new employers.

Teachers are also often unsure how to present the career change they are making positively.

In this post I want to give you 7 good reasons for leaving a teaching job for your resume or CV .. to give you the confidence to apply for jobs outside the classroom.

The first thing to realise is that changing careers isn't nearly as unusual as it used to be .. "The average person will change careers 5-7 times during their working life" (source)

Prospective employers are likely to be much more understanding than you think - particularly if your reason for leaving teaching is a good one.

So let's start with reason number 1 ..

1. Opportunity

Best reason for leaving teaching

The idea here is to use the job or person specification of the role you are applying for - and explain how inspired you are by it.

" I never thought I would leave my classroom job, but when I read your advertisement I knew immediately that I had to apply for it "

" When I read the job / person specification I realised just how enjoyable I would find the work - and how well my skills would fit into it "

Why This is a Good Reason for Leaving Teaching

By using this justification on your resume or CV, you communicate immediately how interested you are in the specific job you are applying for.

If you're careful in picking up on elements of the job/person spec, you can also make the connection between the skills or aspirations you have and the job you are applying for.

This can be very effective, as successful job applications provide evidence of links between the skills of the applicant and the job being applied for.

Be Careful When Using This Reason Because .. 

If the job itself is way outside your area of expertise and experience, you might appear to be enthusiastically unqualified, rather than a genuinely employable applicant.

I might say I aspire to be an airline pilot, but my fear of flying and obvious lack of experience would be painfully obvious to the recruiter reading my resume / CV.

Be aware that your application needs to justify why you would be an excellent candidate alongside your enthusiasm for the opportunity being offered.

When to Use this Reason for Leaving Teaching

This is a great reason to include on a resume or CV if you read the job and person specification and can demonstrate many of the skills the organisation is looking for.

If you can make the link between the skills you have and those required to do the job - your genuine interest in the opportunity available, is a good justification for a change of careers.

2. Impact

Good reason for leaving a classroom job

This reason for leaving the classroom is based on the idea that as an impact focused person, you have realised the chance to make an impact elsewhere with the skills you have.

In your application, you can talk about the importance of the work that the company or organisation does - and the level of impact you believe your skills could make in this new area.

" Your company makes such a valuable contribution to XXX and I would love to be a part of making a difference to XXX "

" I value my ability to make a positive impact with the skills I have, and I am really interested in doing this in the role of XXX "

Why This is a Good Reason for Leaving Teaching

It can be very effective to justify a change of career direction with your desire to help people with the skills you have.

This is particularly true of ex-teachers whose original career choice was likely to be motivated by the want to make a difference.

Using this as your reason for leaving the classroom often makes your application stand out - as you can leverage the impact you have already made in your teaching job.

To use this reason well, start to link the transferable skills you have gained in the classroom to the impact you can make in the new role. Doing this in your application for a new role can be helpful to employers who don’t understand the job we do.

Be Careful When Using This Reason Because .. 

You need to have a clear idea of the work the company or organisation does to use this reason persuasively. So spend some time researching the work they do and the impact they have on the people, environment or wider world.

If you have only been in teaching a short time, this justification might need to change slightly - as saying that you are proud of the impact you have made in the classroom is only really persuasive if you have done the job for a number of years. If you are in this position and motivated by making an impact elsewhere - look at using reason 5 instead.

When to Use this Reason for Leaving Teaching ..

This is a perfect reason for leaving the classroom for applications to caring or impact based jobs or professions - as the recruiter will be looking for someone who is motivated by the chance to make a difference in the job.

This also applies if the job you are seeking has anything to do with the training or development of staff or customers too.

Using your classroom skills in new ways is something many highly motivated educators do as they move through their careers - particularly if gaining a leadership position in education isn’t something they want to do.

You can mention in your application how driven you are by the impact you have made for so many years in the classroom. How many students and families you have helped, over many years .. but that now you feel the time is right to broaden this impact elsewhere.

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  • 373 ideas and inspirations for teachers seeking a fresh challenge

3. Changing Personal Circumstances

Good reasons for a teachers to change careers

This reason for applying outside of education justifies your change of direction by citing personal circumstances as a reason why you are looking at new opportunities .. for example:

  • When having a baby
  • When your children leave home, or a similar such life change
  • After you move to a new area

Why This is a Good Reason for Leaving Teaching

We all go through periods in our lives when our circumstances change and we need to adapt to them. Having these periods of change in our lives is perfectly normal and very easy for a new employer to understand.

Often these kinds of life changes are accompanied by a change in priorities too - which easily justifies the application to work somewhere new.

When using this reason for leaving teaching, you don't need to mention anything negative about your job in education either .. as the change in circumstances you are going through mean that however well the job was going - you would need another one anyway.

Be Careful When Using This Reason Because .. 

Because this reason allows an applicant to gloss over any negative aspects of the job they are moving away from, it can be tempting to try and make it fit the application you might be making.

Be careful if you are tempted to exaggerate (or fabricate) a reason of this type however - this can become quickly obvious at interview, when a recruiter might ask about the change you are going through.

Be prepared to explain how this has changed your circumstances and altered your priorities in a positive way .. and how the new start you are making is something which you are doing for positive reasons.

When to Use this Reason for Leaving Teaching ..

If you have to change priorities in your life because things change - this is a perfect justification for leaving a classroom job or starting to look at a new career.

You might require different things from your working life - more flexibility in working hours for example, or your financial requirements might have have changed.

If you have moved to a completely new area, you might be making applications to do something new as part of a new start for yourself.

These reasons are easily understandable and usually received well by a prospective new employer.

4. Self Development

Good reasons to leave the classroom

This reason for leaving a classroom job is based around a qualification or training course that you have completed - which begun the journey of applying for the job you want to get.

You might have recently completed a training course or additional qualification which has given you relevant new experience or skills.

This can be a very good justification for the new application you are making.

Why This is a Good Reason for Leaving Teaching

Using this approach you can easily show your commitment to the new area you are applying into, by the qualification you gained and the time you spent getting it.

You can support your application with examples of the skills and experience you have gained through this course of study - and your excitement at the prospect of using them in the new position.

Employers often look for applicants that have demonstrated a motivation to develop their own skills - and training or experience you gain away from the requirements of your job is an excellent way to demonstrate this.

Changing careers or jobs in this way - even if the qualification you gained was a small one - is a highly effective way of overcoming the objection of employers that 'you have no relevant experience' - which is a concern many teachers about leaving the profession.

Be Careful When Using This Reason Because .. 

The qualification or training you complete should be in some way related to the role you are applying for - or the recruiter will simply discount you as unqualified for it.

If you want to move into a new career area, start considering the study you can do in advance of physically making the move - there are many online courses of study available, a lot of it available completely free (e.g. Futurelearn or OpenLearn)

Be sure that the training you select is appropriate for the specific job type you want to apply for later on, and be consistent in investing time to complete it well.

It is likely if you mention a course of study on your job application, that an employer will ask you about what you have learned at interview .. so be prepared to discuss what you have done, and explain why you enjoyed doing so.

When to Use this Reason for Leaving Teaching ..

If you have completed (or are just about to complete) a qualification or training course which teaches you skills relevant to the new position - this can be a strong justification for leaving your current job.

You can pitch your application as a planned move from teaching into a new area, which you have invested time (and possibly money) into - proving your commitment to your new direction.

Applying for or completing a training course prior to making an application, is also an excellent way to demonstrate relevant experience in a new area .. and make being selected for interview many times more likely.

5. Teaching (or Your Job) Has Changed

Best reasons to leave teaching

This reason for leaving is based on the fact that teaching has changed since you joined the profession - and you no longer feel satisfied by the job you are being asked to do.

" I used to be able to use my creative skills to create enjoyable learning experiences for my students - and never thought I would need another job "

" Recently in many schools, the focus has changed from creativity to exam / test performance, and I no longer feel like the job reflects my beliefs about what education should be "

" my school (or district) have reassigned me to work XXXX and I have decided to apply for alternative work as a result "

Why This is a Good Reason for Leaving Teaching

This can feel like a strong reason for leaving - because in many cases it is true ..

.. teaching is now more focused than ever on data and standardised test scores, and no longer offers the same opportunities for creative educators to use their skills with the children.

If the recruiter has a knowledge of the modern school system, either because they know other teachers or have a child in school themselves, you might strike a chord with the person reading your application - as they will be aware of these changes in the modern classroom.

This approach sometimes works because it plays into recruiters misunderstandings of the teaching profession too - but be careful if using this justification for looking for a new career ..

Be Careful When Using This Reason Because .. 

This one needs to be used carefully, because you don’t want to come across as a jaded educator, annoyed with their current (or previous) teaching position .. however true that might be!

When applying for a new position, it is important to focus on the wonderful job you used to do, and the impact you made with your creative skills .. before being disappointed at recent changes.

You need to balance this justification for moving careers out, with a really great reason for applying to the new position too - and do everything you can to give your application a positive feel.

If you fail to do this, you risk sounding like you are applying to a different area for negative reasons - and would likely not enjoy the new job either.

When to Use this Reason for Leaving Teaching ..

I would only really consider using this reason if all others mentioned in this article were impossible in my specific situation.

You don’t want to lie on an application or a new job, but at the same time - telling the whole truth about the mess education is in, is unlikely to leave the recruiter with a positive impression of you .. no matter how true what you say might be.

If you choose to take this approach, do so with a brief comment - and follow this up by lots of positivity elsewhere in your application.

Recruiters reading resumes / CVs to select candidates for interview, often do so quickly. If they pick up the impression you are a negative character you are unlikely to be successful.

373 Alternative Job Ideas for Teachers eBook

373 Alternative Job Ideas for Teachers

  • Discover just how employable you really are!
  • Reveals the jobs best suited to your role, and existing experience level
  • 373 ideas and inspirations for teachers seeking a fresh challenge

6. Redundancy or Job Removal

Reasons for leaving teaching for your resume

This is one of the most understandable reasons for leaving any job - but can only really be used when the facts support it.

The idea here is to communicate simply that the job you had previously no longer exists - and that as a result, you are applying elsewhere.

" I am applying to this position because I was made redundant "

" My job role moved elsewhere and because of my situation I was unable to move with it "

Why This is a Good Reason for Leaving Teaching

This is an unavoidable reason for leaving any job, and as such it is easily understood by prospective employers.

Going through this kind of change can be emotionally difficult - and you have a good opportunity to show how positively you react to change in your application.

Be Careful When Using This Reason Because .. 

Only use this reason when factually correct in doing so. It can be easy for a recruiter checking references or phoning school administration, to confirm the statements you have made are correct.

Being found lying to an employer in the course of an application, could mean you lose the job - even if you have already started working for them.

Applications often state ‘subject to satisfactory references’. Often these are collected after employment has begun. There is nothing to stop an employer who discovers an inaccuracy (or lie) about previous employment, from cancelling the contract they have offered you.

When to Use this Reason for Leaving Teaching ..

If you are forced to move jobs, because of any circumstances - this is an excellent reason to give for an application for jobs outside of teaching.

After an experience of redundancy, it is understandable that you might be motivated to look for employment in a different area - even if there are other teaching jobs available.

7. New Challenge

Reasons why teachers leave the profession

This reason for leaving is similar to 2 above, but is useful in situations where the job you are applying for isn’t in a ‘caring profession’ .. or is one which lacks the opportunity to make an impact based justification.

In many jobs, the impact the employee seeks to make is on their own circumstances - a higher salary, different working conditions etc .. and there is nothing wrong with this - most people working a job are motivated this way!

" I want to take on a new challenge professionally and when I saw your job advertised I knew I had to apply for it"

" I have always been driven to succeed, and after XX years in success in the classroom I feel its time to seek a fresh challenge elsewhere "

Why This is a Good Reason for Leaving Teaching

The idea of moving jobs to seek a new challenge can make you appear motivated, and not phased by change.

It is often perceived to be easier to stay in a ‘safe job like teaching' for the long term. Anyone moving out of this perceived ‘safe’ environment obviously has motivation and confidence for doing so.

This can also be a positive way of saying 'the job has changed and I now don't enjoy it any more' .. which is many teachers' reality.

Employers don't necessarily want to hear that - so 'seeking a new challenge after many happy years in the classroom', is a positive way to say the same thing.

Be Careful When Using This Reason Because .. 

If your experience and references in the previous job which you are leaving, are not likely to paint you in a good light .. then your search for a new challenge elsewhere might be seen negatively instead.

This justification for changing career comes across best in a job application, if you can demonstrate your ability to rise to challenges in your previous employment.

Challenge focused people can be highly motivated and very effective at learning new things - both of these are desirable qualities in a new employee.

When to Use this Reason for Leaving Teaching ..

If you want to leave teaching and look forward to making a positive impact somewhere else - this can be a good reason to give for leaving your classroom job.

If you can read the job application and are genuinely excited about the challenge the job will present you - or if you can see how well the skills you have will help you rise to this challenge .. then communicating this reason for leaving can fit well into a positively phrased job application.

What To Do Now ...

For many teachers, the process of applying for work outside the classroom can feel quite alien.

We often join the profession with no thought of ever leaving it.

It's important to remember that a change of careers is much more normal than it might feel .. and that you will have gained valuable transferable skills in your classroom job.

You have much to offer a new employer - your challenge is to demonstrate this.

The first opportunity you have to do this, is preparing a skills based resume / CV which highlights the wide range of things you can do - and the advantages of employing an ex-teacher.

Use your teacher superpowers to do this - your forensic eye for detail will help you break down the job / person spec .. and your creativity will help you match this with the skills you have.

Completing a separate application for each specific job you apply for gives you the best chance of getting selected for an interview - even if you might appear not to be the perfect candidate.

Your goal is to get an interview for the position - where you can demonstrate the skills you have - and how employable you are.

Whatever the reason for leaving teaching that you choose to put on your application, resume or CV .. be prepared to discuss and expand upon it at interview.

If you are still unsure of what to do instead of teaching, check out this post where I explain the huge number of opportunities available for teachers outside the classroom.

Good luck in your search for alternatives to your classroom job.

If this resonates with you, please share it ...

About the author 

James Anthony

After teaching for 20 years in the UK, I now help Schools, Universities, and Entrepreneurs to create and deliver transformational online learning.
I also work with educators across the world helping them use their skills in new ways - to live happier healthier lives.


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