How to find college online teaching jobs and make initial contact


pexels-photo-306534.jpegHere are four strategies for finding online teaching jobs. Although these strategies are mainly for college level positions, these might be useful if you are looking for K-12 online teaching jobs, as well.

Strategy 1:  Great sites for job leads

If you’re looking for a job in higher education, you’ll want to visit the job section (Vitae) of the Chronicle of Higher Education. Not familiar with the Chronicle? It’s a news journal for higher education, and every single teaching job I’ve ever seen in any university throughout the United States, and many international jobs, are posted on the Chronicle. This includes online teaching jobs for adjuncts, part-time and full-time.  Their search engine is fairly advanced and you can customize your searches, save them, and set up automatic email notifications. Narrow down your searches with keywords such as “remote,” “virtual,” and “online.”

Other search tools you can use that include jobs for university online faculty include:

  • HigherEd Jobs (an emerging new favorite of mine, love the easy way to pull up “online” jobs, but their sorting capability is still somewhat limited)
  • Indeed
  • Flex Jobs
  • EdJoin (mainly K-12, but some tutoring jobs, etc.)

Strategy 2:  Identify college programs where you want to work

Open your mind about potential employers. Ninety eight percent of universities and colleges offer online courses! They all need qualified adjunct instructors, and the majority of those work online from home.

Start a list (create a spreadsheet in Google Sheets, and track my information in columns).

  1. Think about all the local colleges and universities around you. Write down their names in a column.
  2. Think about all the universities in your state and around the country that offer degrees in your content area of specialization. Do a Google search, such as “Math undergraduate degrees,” and see who comes up. You could also search with the qualifier “online” if you’re interested in teaching for fully online programs. Add these universities to your list.
  3. There are also major online universities with strong reputations where you might consider applying: Penn State World Campus, University of Maryland Online, Capella University, University of Phoenix, National University, Walden University, Full Sail University and Western Governers University. Add these to your list. Personally, I would avoid unaccredited for-profit universities, as they make your resume look weaker to accredited institutions.

After you’ve collected names of programs where you’d be willing to work, begin to look at their website. Make sure they offer a degree program in your area of specialization. If so, write down the exact names of the degrees you’re interested in teaching in a second column on your list. Now you’re ready to identify the key decision maker and make outreach!

Strategy 3:  Identify key decision makers

It’s fairly appropriate protocol to call or email potential employers who might not have jobs advertised. I actually got my an adjunct position at Boise State University that way, and later went on to accept a tenured track line and become department chair. I have also hired many people because they contacted me at the right time when I had an opening, and it was an easier solution than searching back through old resumes. Timing is essential! 

Key tip

Take the time to find out who actually does the hiring of adjunct faculty in the department (this may be hard to do at private online universities where they don’t show program faculty, easier to do at state universities). It’s usually the program chair, or an associate chair, if the program is large. You can easily call the department office (not HR), and explain you are interested in an adjunct position, and ask whom should you contact. Make sure to get an email address for that specific person, and address them by name in your email contact. A department chair will always pay more attention to, and remember, email received directly versus being sent over from HR or forwarded from the Dean of the College. You want to make an impression in their memory….if you reach out during a non-hiring period, they may end up calling you a few months down the road when they’re getting the new course schedule together.

You think this type of outreach is a needle in a haystack, in actuality, it’s not. Department chairs of higher education are often at the mercy of needing adjunct instructors at the last minute, because new sections of courses get added when there are enrollment overloads. Even if you aren’t a regular adjunct for that program, you can be called in a pinch if you are on the mind of the person doing the hiring.

Strategy 4: Make personalized contact

  • Send an introductory email directly to the Chair or Director of the program with a resume attached – make sure your contact is made with the person directly responsible for hiring. This isn’t usually Human Resources.
  • Don’t create an additional letter of introduction, just introduce yourself in the email itself.
  • Personalize the email heading, “Edtech adjunct position at Penn State,” seems very specific and more important than if the chair gets a generic email they may not read.
  • Use their title and name, “Dear Dr. Jones,” in the salutation.
  • Keep it brief on initial contact, indicating your interest, background, and availability. Show you have done your homework about their particular program. Mention what degree you are interested in teaching in, and any courses in that degree program you feel qualified to teach.
  • Include a link to your online teaching portfolio in the email, and attach your resume directly to the email.
  • Say “I am happy to provide references upon request.” Drop names directly in the email if you have connections in the same field as the program chair.
  • Don’t ask about salary, yet.

Want to learn more?

book cover

This blog is second in a five part series to help you get focused on finding a job teaching college part-time online.

If you’re looking for additional tips with finding and landing online teaching jobs, get a free digital copy of my book, Find Online Teaching Jobs Now! College Edition, through April 24th, 2017 at Amazon!

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