The 3 Most Important Things to Know When Seeking a Part-time College Teaching Position

What are the three most important things to know in order to find part-time college teaching jobs?

General Advice for Finding a Part-time College Teaching Job

A June 2010 article entitled Part-time Employment as a College Instructor emphasized the qualifications required of a college instructor. Job postings normally state the requirements for education and experience quite clearly, but the unstated requirements are one of the most important things to know.

A January 2011 article in HubPages entitled How to Find a Part-time College Teaching Position, provide provided 10 pieces of advice. Those include tips for applying for a position. Knowing how to apply for a position is critical for those seeking part-time college employment.

The third most important thing to know is how to interview for a part-time college teaching position. A qualified candidate may never get the chance to teach if he or she does not make a good first impression.

The Unstated Requirements for Becoming a College Instructor

The first important thing for a applicant to know is whether he or she has what it takes to be a good college instructor. The individual must know where he or she has the right motivation, characteristics, and talents to teach. Money is not a good motivation. The desire to make a difference and to help others are good motivators. So are love for the subject and love for learning.

The characteristics of a good college instructor include a passion for the discipline, strong work ethic, a high energy level, enthusiasm, a love for others, good interpersonal skills, good speaking and writing ability, and a sense of humor. It may be said that good college instructors are born not made. Either they have these characteristics or they don’t.

How to Apply for a Part-time College Teaching Position

Cold calls seldom work. Neither do letters to college administrators such a deans, department chairs, and those in the human resources department. One must first find a suitable vacancy. Jobs may be posted in the local newspaper, but most colleges and universities post open positions on their websites. This is where to look, and these postings will indicate how to apply. More and more, institutions are requiring applications to be submitted online.

A good piece of advice is to proofread one’s application. A better piece of advice is to have someone else proofread it. Poor grammar and typos are unacceptable.

A well-written cover letter is critical. The applicant should succinctly address the major requirements for the position and how he or she meets those requirements. Hiring authorities frown on generic cover letters that make no specific reference to their institution. What is worse is reference to the wrong institution. This may happen when someone applies for teaching positions at several colleges and does some careless copying and pasting.

How to Interview for a Part-time College Teaching Position

The very first thing is to prepare for a telephone call. It may not seem like an interview, but that first call is just that. The applicant should be ready for a call at any time, though most calls are made during normal weekday working hours. It is also wise to have one’s application printed out and at hand.

When invited in for an interview, the applicant should ask what that entails. The individual should find out whom he or she will be talking to. If it requires a teaching demonstration, that means preparation.

Good grooming goes without saying, but it is very important to dress appropriately. No matter what the job, teaching or otherwise, it is best to overdress. A candidate for a career and technical education position such as a welding instructor should dress in business casual. All others should where conservative business attire. For men, that means a coat and tie. For women a blouse and skirt or dress will usually do, but the attire should not be too revealing.

During the interview, the candidate must address people by their name and proper title. Failing to call someone by name is bad. If someone at the college with a doctorate degree introduces him or herself as Tom Cromwell, one should still refer to him as Dr. Cromwell unless he or she is given permission to call him Tom.

One of the most important things the candidate must convey is his or her motivation to teach. If that does not come across as genuine and heartfelt, the he or she may not get the position. Hopefully, the applicant has has determined that he or she fulfills the unstated requirements. In the interview, that person must convince others of that.

Last, it is a good idea to ask questions like, “What are your expectations?” or “What does it take to be a successful adjunct at [insert the name of the college or university]?” If an offer is made, the applicant should not assume that he or she will be given all the materials and resources needed. That person should ask for the teacher’s edition of the textbook and a copy of the course outline and an existing syllabus. He or she should also ask about references and resources for instructors and for students. It is important to know where to go for help and where to send students who need tutoring, counseling or some other type of assistance.

© 2011 Paul A. Hummel, Ed.D (a.k.a. The Teaching Doc)

April 9, 2011

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