If you have been following my several part series on getting preparing your CV, teaching philosophy statements, asking for letters of recommendation and more, you are on your way to adding to your workload or landing your first online teaching job. Often I am asked, “how will I know if the school wants to hire me” or “what do I do if I hear back?” These are good problems to have!
About 8 times out of 10, I find that my client hears about interest in their online teaching job application by email. Sometimes the note is a request for additional information (such as copies of letters of recommendation or to have official transcripts mailed to human resources) and other times it is a direct request for an interview. Be sure to check spam folders often as it is not unusual for HR emails to land there.
If you hear back, be sure to respond right away with answers to their questions or documents being requested. If the request is for an official transcript, it is not okay to send them from your home office! Order them directly from the school you attended and have them sent directly to the individual noted in the email. I know it can get expensive, but usually official transcripts is a decent sign you are a serious candidate.
This is your second chance to make a great impression. Your first chance was with your CV! A friend of mine who is a Dean at a for-profit online college told me last summer he wanted to hire two candidates, but neither responded for weeks. When they did, they both had excuses – they were “on vacation” and weren't checking their email. His analogy stuck with me – if during the “honeymoon phase” while on their best behavior they were going to neglect email for two weeks, what would they be like once they already felt “secure in the relationship?” Great question – and one you don’t want anyone to ask about you!
Your follow up email to HR or the hiring manager should be well written and very timely. It is not a good sign to HR or to a Dean to hear back from a potential candidate a week (or even two days) later. Remember that online professors need to be constantly responsive and “always on”, and you should demonstrate this from the very first email you receive from HR or from a Chair/Dean. Talking about your philosophy of teaching and responsiveness and reliability is important, but perhaps more so is demonstration of your principles. In addition, sometimes there are several candidates being considered, and only a couple of interview slots. Being among the first to reply can improve your chances of being given a spot.
Just as important though is to sit down, and thoughtfully write out your reply. Most of us (I do it too) write (or dictate) hundreds of emails from our smart devices every day. Be sure your note is free of errors. The signature saying “sent from a mobile device, please excuse grammar” won’t fly here. It almost sounds silly to say, but Deans tell me they see this (which means candidates are doing it!) As tempting as it is to slam out a reply and secure the spot, at least get to a quiet place where you can proofread – and still be fast. One of my bosses who I have worked with for over a decade calls me the “fastest gun in the west”. That mode of working has helped me land last minute course projects or teaching spots because I was the first to reply. It has helped hundreds of my clients, too.
Sometimes hiring managers and/or HR will call you instead of emailing. This is my personal least favorite, because I get terrible signal at my home and am not a big “phone fan”. If you are like me, check your voice mail often and phone back only when you have your home or office quiet and calm (but still promptly). Try to phone back the same day, or at the very least the following day. When I leave voice messages, I always provide my email address. Every opportunity to engage with HR or the hiring manager is a chance to show you are a no excuses/fast/thorough person, just what most Deans want.
When you do move to the interview phase, you may have an interview with one – or several – people at once. It may be with human resources or with the person you would be working for. There are some common interview questions (and tips) coming shortly in the continuation of my series, getting an online teaching job.