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Young teacher sits thinking at a desk.

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The question

I have been considering contacting a recruiter to see what opportunities there are outside the education system for people trained in elementary school teaching. I'm living in the Niagara Region and, since graduating from teachers college three years ago, jobs for teachers are scarce, plus I'm interested in seeing what kind of positions may benefit from someone with a background in education.

Before I was a teacher, I worked in public information for a religious organization, and then in governmental relations and special project management. I have a strong writing background and write news articles for some income on the side.

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From what searches I've done, I don't see immediate "fits" for elementary school teachers in the corporate world, but I'd be happy to be wrong.

The answer

Before meeting a recruiter, consider first whether you want to: 1) pursue temporary employment for now, until a teaching job becomes available; or 2) shift your career in a new direction given the lack of opportunity currently in the education field.

If you go with the first option, here are a few things you can do immediately: First, make sure that you are on school supply teaching lists, so you can remain active in the classroom and network with key contacts. Second, try to find opportunities that are related to your education background (e.g. tutoring services, summer camps, community centres). Keep building upon your skills, so when a teaching position does come up, you'll have current and relevant experience.

If you opt for a career change, you can still pursue opportunities that are related to your teaching background. Consider non-teaching positions within the education system, for example, in a role where you can utilize your writing skills and other strengths. You may also want to research what kinds of additional certifications you'd need to shift into an adult learning or ESL (English as a second language) teaching role.

For the corporate world, you could meet with a few staffing agencies to get a pulse on their clients' needs, and find out how your skills as a teacher and writer could be transferred into the for-profit arena (e.g. in a training and development position in human resources, or as a research assistant). These interviews may help you shape your "pitch" to other hiring managers, to better highlight your transferable skills.

At the end of the day, remember that you are the best person to sell in your offering. Be prepared to articulate what you are looking for specifically, what you have to offer, what makes you unique and how you can apply your skills and personality to the job at hand.

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If you are passionate about teaching and feel this will ultimately make you most happy, then stay on course. Continue building your skills with other employment, but don't give up your search for a teaching position until you find what you are looking for.

Julie Labrie is the vice-president of BlueSky Personnel Solutions.

Do you have a question on careers, labour law or management? Send it in to our panel of experts, which includes career coaches, a recruitment expert and an employment lawyer: Please be advised that while The Globe and Mail may publish your submission, your name and address will be kept confidential.

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