October 03, 2010
‘JT & Dale Talk Jobs’ is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the country and can be found at JTandDale.com. Dear J.T. & Dale: I worked in a business position for 14 years. Since I'd always wanted to work with children, I started substitute teaching. I loved it and was encouraged to return to school to get a master's degree in teaching. For more than a year I've been applying for positions, without much response. I do not know what is wrong. Do you think it is my resume, my lack of teaching experience or the fact I would start at a master's pay level? — Susan Dale: Yours is a common problem, Susan: You found your passion, went and got the necessary credentials, and now you're wondering where the jobs are. But you've completed just the first two of the five steps to maximizing the potential of landing a great job: 1. Be so certain about what you want that you have a good story and a great attitude. 2. Get necessary qualifications/certifications. 3. Have exact (or highly similar) experience to job openings (so they know you can jump in and succeed with a minimum of training or hand-holding). 4. Network in so that you are a known quantity, not just a resume. 5. Have insiders champion your hiring. Rarely does someone have all five, but almost everyone who applies has the first two. J.T.: I'd suggest you reach out to school administrators to see if they'd be willing to give you some feedback on how you can align your background with their needs. Dale: If you don't know anyone who can introduce you to administrators...well, there's the problem: You have to develop your network of contacts within school systems. J.T.: Yes, the best way to increase your chances of getting an interview is to know someone who will vouch for you with the hiring manager. That also can overcome a lack of experience. Speaking of experience, I don't think your resume does you justice. I realize you don't feel your business experience has relevance, but it does. It shows you've been in a professional setting and explains the gaps in employment. Usually, job seekers put too much information on their resumes; in your case, I don't think there is enough. Dale: Do all you can to make your resume stronger, but remember it's unlikely you will have the strongest resume in the pile. You need someone to give you a break, but employers take their chances on people, not on resumes, and your job is to get the introductions your resume cannot. Jeanine "J.T." Tanner O'Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, jtodonnell.com, and of the blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com. Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019. © 2010 by King Features Syndicate, Inc. The photo for this article is provided by Shutterstock.