By Annette Clayton
Faculty Recruiter, American Public University System
It’s always challenging to land your first college teaching job, especially if it’s online teaching. Working from home is highly desirable and you will be competing with applicants from all over the country, making the applicant pool with your competitors even larger. Every week I receive phone calls from candidates with no college-level or online teaching experience that have been applying for months and want advice on how to get their foot in the door. Here are 5 quick tips for those seeking an online adjunct position.
1. Convert Your Resume to a CV
In the world of academia candidates refer to their resume as a CV or Curriculum Vitae. A CV is longer than a resume and will contain additional information a resume may not. For example, it will include academic areas of interest, professional or scholarly memberships, awards, honors, presentations, and publications. It’s always a good idea to have someone proofread your CV. Your University’s alumni or Career Services Department may also be able to assist you at no charge. You may also consider researching curriculum vitae services that will edit your CV and assist with content and structure for a fee.
2. The Cover Letter – Be Creative and Highlight How You Bring Value
I often hear from candidates that every online teaching position they apply for requires previous teaching experience, and the question of “how can I get experience if no one will give me that first opportunity?” is asked. Many online colleges will have a training or orientation process to acclimate you to their learning management system (virtual learning platform), so if you’re good with technology, learning to navigate their virtual classroom may take some time, but will not be insurmountable. What hiring managers really want to know is, if you don’t have experience with online students, how can you relate to them? Do you understand the online student? How do you plan to engage students at a distance and create a sense of community within the classroom? Think about your related experience and highlight it in your cover letter.
Maybe you were an online student at one point, if so, has that experience shaped how you plan to engage your students? Have you taught seminars or trained new hires? Also, include a few sentences regarding why you want to teach. No hiring manager wants to hear that you believe teaching online will be easy and give you extra income; they want to hear about your passion for the subject matter, sharing your knowledge with others, and your desire to help students succeed and achieve their academic goals. And lastly, I recommend saving the CV and cover letter as one document to be efficient. If a recruiter or administrative assistant is forwarding your materials to someone to review, you have a better chance of nothing getting lost in the process.
3. Apply, but Don’t Over Apply
Many institutions use an ATS or applicant tracking system. If you apply for every single job in an effort to bolster your odds, it will have the adverse effect. Applications are trackable in an ATS and have a history associated with it. Applying continuously or for multiple positions you’re not really qualified for may make you seem unfocused. It could also show that you are not taking the position or the institutions application process seriously.
4. Act Quickly, and Pay Attention to the Details
If you hear back from a university and they request additional materials of you, transcripts, a phone call etc., act quickly, politely, and thoroughly. Hiring managers take note of applicants who are slow to respond or short in their responses. How are you going to provide effective and substantive feedback to students if it takes you a week to answer a recruiter’s email?
In addition, I recommend tailoring each CV to the position you are applying for; this will take more time but is worth it. If you go this route ensure you are reviewing your CV thoroughly before each submission. I sometimes come across CV’s and cover letters that reference the wrong job title and university. References that come in with erroneous information come across as a lack of attention to details and not wanting to make an extra effort.
5. Do Your Research
Know the institution you are applying to, review the programs, courses, mission, and history.
This is especially important if you are invited to an interview. Nothing is worse than being asked what you know about the university and you draw a blank. Having no background knowledge will appear that you just want any job; hiring managers want to know why you want this job. If you are given the names of the interviewers, research them on the university’s website and if the opportunity presents itself in the interview then mention something about their experience, education, or publications.
About the Author
Annette Clayton has been a Faculty Recruiter with APUS for five years. Her focus includes hiring online Faculty and Directors for the School of Security and Global Studies and Health Sciences. Annette graduated from Salisbury University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and received her Professional Recruiter Certification in 2014.
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A well-crafted cover letter can be a powerful job search tool. Your Adjunct Professor cover letter should be brief and highlight some of your skills, experiences and accomplishments that are most relevant to the job. Check out the Adjunct Professor cover letter sample below for a bit of inspiration.
Dear Mr. Sidney Harris:
I am writing to express my interest in the position of Adjunct Professor for the SHRP Department of Interdisciplinary Studies. I currently hold a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies from Union Institute and University, and have over 15 years of experience as a professor and administrator in health policy development. I completed an interdisciplinary doctoral dissertation utilizing elements of ethnomusicology, public policy, thanatology, and liturgical practice to explore HIV policy.
I offer a unique combination of undergraduate and graduate level teaching in both traditional and online settings, as well as Health Administration and Consulting background in the healthcare profession. I believe this combination of professional and academic experience ensures I am an excellent fit for this position.
Currently, I serve as Program Director of Management and Assistant Professor of Management for the Accelerated Studies for Adults Programs for Keuka College. I have incorporated elements of interdisciplinary research in the Masters of Management program at Kekuka College, where I have been instrumental in revising the curriculum. I coordinate administration for the management degree programs, develop online instruction and certificate programs, as well as design and facilitate online courses in Management. In addition, I direct 100+ adjunct and 6 full time faculty serving 350 students in 11 sites across central New York State. My work as online faculty extends to assisting students as Doctoral Dissertation Mentor and Committee Chair for the MBA Healthcare Administration program at Capella University. I have previously served as Executive Director and Program Administrator for Westchester County AIDS Council.
I have a passion for initiating, revamping, and redesigning programs in health sciences, health care management, health leadership, and health advocacy. I am able to leverage my previous experience as Executive Director of Westchester County AIDS Council to advise students on real world scenarios and situations. I have a proven background designing and implementing a health sciences research agenda and creating successful curriculum programs for online students.
I would enjoy discussing the Adjunct Professor position with you in the weeks to come. In the meantime, I am enclosing my Curriculum Vitae; letters of recommendation and references will arrive under separate cover. If you require any additional materials or information, I would be happy to supply it. Thank you for your consideration.