After spending time in the online teaching job market myself and now helping others find positions, I wanted to share what I find are the 8 biggest mistakes I see online professors make when searching for an online teaching job.
Searching for online teaching jobs takes time, effort and dedication. Many say that looking for a job is a full-time job in itself! You need the right tools and application materials as well as the commitment to doing the leg work. My goal here is to help you avoid some of the mistakes I made in my own search and that I see clients make in their efforts! Here are the 8 biggest mistakes I see online professors make when searching for an online teaching job!
1. Relying too much on the big job boards. There are some great job boards out there that reach online professors. No doubt you’ve heard of some of them; InsideHigherEd, Indeed and HigherEdJobs. These job boards are updated regularly as schools open positions. Not all schools use these boards though. Another issue with them is that they are so visible and free to candidates that everyone else is using them too! This means more competition for you with each submitted application. If you want to do your own job search, search for jobs and HR departments by school and view current job openings. I have been told by administrators that it’s not unusual to receive more than 1,000 applications for each open position on the big job boards, so doing your own search is important. Go to the HR websites and find positions you are interested in. Our job leads help you do this and I found them very helpful in my own search. A small number of clients receive them, and we get them straight from the schools’ websites - saving you a lot of time.
2. Using a web search, like Google. Treat LinkedIn like you would Google... back before it was popular. Utilize LinkedIn. A lot. LinkedIn is becoming a hot spot and hub for online teaching jobs. Recruiters regularly troll LinkedIn to find qualified candidates. Make sure your profile stands out and speaks volumes to hiring managers about what you will contribute if they bring you on their team. When you search for positions, make sure to use key phrases like: distance learning, e-learning, remote, telecommute, teach and so on. If you need help with your profile or want to learn about our review services check out our LinkedIn Profile Creation or Revision and our LinkedIn Profile Review. Our clients report great satisfaction with this service.
3. You’re searching for jobs within your discipline. Yes of course you are searching in your own area of expertise, right? For instance.. say you are a marketer and want to teach marketing. But, did you also learn about sales and do some of that in your last job? Did you take courses in sales? What about general business management? Perhaps you are a nurse and are looking for jobs teaching nursing. But what about the biology courses, the anatomy courses and the hazard materials courses you took and accumulated 18 grad hours in? Chances are you can teach (in terms of qualifications) far more than a narrow search would suggest. Branch out and look beyond your specific degree. If you have 18 graduate hours in a specific discipline and feel like you can make a solid contribution in student lives, go for it and apply. Some schools will require your highest degree be in the specific area of study, but not most. It is not recommended you teach something you don’t know, only to avoid the laser focus that causes you to miss opportunities. For more insight, check out the article How Submitting Your Transcripts Helps Get You Hired
4. Not following up on rejection letters. Hold onto those rejection letters and check back in six months. Circumstances change, needs change, hiring demands change, people leave jobs, enrollments grow or shift from one program to another. You don’t know what the future holds. It is not unusual to be hired years after applying and our Forum is full of stories like this. Check back until you’re told not to!
5. Your Curriculum Vitae (CV) is not showing your commitment to education or your thorough experience. The CV is critical to obtaining an online teaching position. Make sure your CV is a CV and not a resume. Some HR sites will still ask for a resume. That is because they are using standard HR language and an automated workforce system! The person reviewing your CV will be expecting a CV, not a resume. A CV is a lengthy document showcasing your professional and academic achievements. If you need help writing your CV, we would be glad to assist. Checkout our Professional CV Writing and for more insight checkout the article, How I Transformed my Resume into a CV and Found Success.
6. You are frustrated after 100 applications. I know it sounds like a lot. It is a lot! But it takes more than 100 applications on average. Our clients report it can take 80-120 application per interview and that number is steadily increasing; and not in favor of the candidate. Sometimes it takes many more applications and clients don’t see success until hundreds and hundreds of applications. On occasion, it takes far less, and they get positions quickly. There are many circumstances at play that you don’t have control over such as enrollments, candidates with different or better qualifications, timing, hiring manager preferences in terms of where you went to school or what your expertise is in, recommendations and references, your application material – you name it. You will almost never know why you didn’t get a job, but you cannot let that get you down. Keep applying. Don’t believe me? Our forum is full of folks who talk about getting a job after a year (or more!) or needing to apply 40 (or 400) times to get a job. These things do seem to come in waves, with a lot of hiring and then a lull. Don't’ give up and keep applying. Sometimes obtaining an online teaching position is a full-time job but in the end it’s worth it. To make the process easier, try using auto fill on your computer so you don’t have to keep typing in the same information. Make it a priority to complete a certain number of applications per week, every week, until you feel confident that number can slow down a bit without risking your financial health. If you don’t have time to apply we offer application packages where we apply for you – Application Submission Package. If you want to get on the fast track, consider our Application Premier Service.
7. You assume because you have no experience you will never get hired. Not true! Every single professor started with no experience. Everyone has to start somewhere. Check out Dr. Dani Babb’s article for tips to getting experience for your CV- 4 Tips to Getting Experience to List on your CV for Online Teaching Jobs – for some motivation and tips.
8. Being content with status quo. Anyone who has been around education for a while knows that being too comfortable is a bad thing. Change is a constant. Schools consolidate, shut down, merge. Who would have thought Capella and Strayer would merge, or Perdue and Kaplan? What if you work for both and now that you fall under one corporate umbrella, you can only work for one of the two? Be sure to treat your Adjunctpreneur® work like a sales pipeline – always full of positions in different stages of the hiring process. Just because you have enough jobs to pay the bills now doesn’t mean you will next term. It also doesn’t mean an existing school won’t change course or that enrollments won’t drop. The worst position to be in is one of desperation. Worst case – you can always use the extra work to trade up or leave schools that provide less than optimal working conditions. You also need to plan for slower months or quarters. Summers tend to be lighter in pay and workload; holidays tend to be very slow and often are not paid at all. January tends to be a poor paycheck month!
I hope these 8 biggest mistakes I see online professors make when searching for an online teaching job will help you avoid a few yourself! Good luck!
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About the Author
Dorothy A. Miraglia, PhD
Dorothy A. Miraglia, PhD earned her B.S. in Music and Sociology from Adelphi University. She attended Hofstra University earning her M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies and earned a M.S. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from the University of Phoenix.. Dr. Miraglia graduated with distinction from Capella University earning her PhD in Advanced Studies in Human Behavior focusing her dissertation on smartphone use in women.
She began teaching online in 2008 and has witnessed how the industry has changed over the years. Her goal is to help clients who are interested in transitioning to the online teaching world and help established online instructors advance their career. In 2019, she began helping University clients determine the best solutions for instructional design and curriculum development based off of her experience and knowledge as an instructor and former student.
Dr. Miraglia lives on Long Island, NY with her husband and two sons. She enjoys the luxury of working from home and having a flexible work schedule, which allows for plenty of family time, home projects, trips to Target and Starbucks, and vacations.