Getting an online teaching position is a competitive business. Not only must you have the credentials that the position requires, but you must also convince the dean or hiring manager of your qualifications. All of this needs to happen at just the right moment – when the institution is looking for an instructor in your field.
This isn’t as impossible as it sounds. To start, if you are applying to jobs every week, your application and CV are going to land in some inboxes at just the right time. Second, if you have a strong online presence, you are going to beat out the other 90% of applicants who do not. Why not give yourself every advantage?
After your Curriculum Vitae, the most important thing you can have in your teaching portfolio is your completed LinkedIn profile. Deans go to LinkedIn first after they view their shortlist of applicants. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, you may lose out to a candidate who has one. I know online instructors who are reluctant to set up their LinkedIn accounts, afraid of being visible, of other schools finding out where they work, or of looking like they are actively seeking a job. However, you need to remember what Deans want. They want to see your online presence.
Below are some suggestions that I have based on research that I have done and feedback that Dani has received from deans and those who hire faculty.
First, build your LinkedIn profile fully. Yes, you MUST have a photo. Yes, your photo must be clear, easy to see, and professional. You don’t need to have a photo shoot done, but your picture should convey a professional (yet approachable) feel. If you are going to take your picture yourself, take it outside just after dawn or before sunset. This is when the lighting is best.
If you have your CV created, you can copy much of it over to your LinkedIn profile. The real advantage, though, with LinkedIn is that you can embed research articles, presentations, your CV, and more right into your profile. So take advantage of this feature!
In your headline (the words directly under your name) list your field. Do not say Doctoral Student Looking for Job or Aspiring Online Instructor. What are your skills? What do you bring to the table? Why you instead of someone else? What industry are you in? These are all things you can put in your headline. Consider the following options:
- eLearning Consultant
- Online Instruction
- Biology and Anatomy/Physiology
- Higher Education
- Sociology Researcher
- Course Designer
Below your headline, include contact information such as Skype address, Twitter handle, and LinkedIn vanity URL. In the Summary section, put your teaching philosophy. I add my research publications directly under this, but it’s just a personal preference. I also embed my latest presentations so those visiting my profile can view them.
Include your work history, your educational history, awards, publications, languages you speak, upcoming presentations, and references. Seek colleagues who would be willing to write a recommendation for you. Although I don’t consider LinkedIn’s endorsements to be particularly important, having them can show that you’re well connected and have a diverse set of skills.
Beyond your profile, consider blogging on LinkedIn. The platform’s Publisher feature got its start with big names like Richard Branson and Guy Kawasaki, but has now expanded to regular users, which means you can take advantage of the opportunity to get in front of LinkedIn’s nearly 350 million users.
LinkedIn is a powerful platform for the online instructor. Put yourself out there, show of your professional credentials, and make connections with influencers in your field.
For additional insider tips for making the most of your LinkedIn experience also see Tara's blog post "Secret Agent Applicant"