Young female professor on the tenure track

Working as an adjunct faculty member can be rewarding and exhausting work. This is especially true if the bulk of your income comes from working multiple adjunct positions at numerous institutions. While I am a full-time faculty member now, I simultaneously served in an adjunct faculty role for five years at various institutions before landing a full-time position. So, I know firsthand, all too well, how difficult it can be to obtain and maintain a consistent or at least somewhat reliable adjunct faculty position.

Although adjuncts are teaching more significant percentages of courses than full-time faculty, it can still be challenging to get your foot in the door. This post will delve into strategies for obtaining adjunct faculty roles in these very competitive times.

1. Do Your Research

As a potential or current adjunct, it is crucial always to see what is available. Most departments need adjuncts last minute, so opportunities may come and go very quickly. Therefore, it is essential to look for potential opportunities constantly, so you are at the top of mind when departments are looking to hire someone quickly to fill last-minute scheduling/staffing needs.

A few approaches to help with this may be to check in with and regularly. Additionally, you can anticipate an increase in postings as each semester is ending (April-May and November-December), as departments will be hiring adjuncts for the following term then. This will allow you to see what has been posted and is available.

In addition, it is a good idea to check each institution’s employment page as well, as some institutions do not post externally, or . there may be a lag between when the institution sends the posts to the external advertising site and when those sites post. So, the job may be up for viewing on the institution’s webpage a day or two earlier.

2. Turn your Resume into a Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Turning your resume into a CV could mean a world of difference in landing more adjunct positions. There are some key components that you should include when marketing and advertising yourself for adjunct positions. Some potential headers you might consider when transitioning your resume to a CV include but are not limited to:

  • Education
  • Teaching Experience
  • Other Related Experience
  • Publications, Presentations, and Creative Achievements 
  • Conference Posters, Presentations, and Talks
  • Service to College (if you have it), Community, and Profession 
  • Trainings/Professional Development

3. Send Emails to Department Chairs

It is important to note that after you have done all you can with watching the job posting sites, checking the institution’s career  pages, and transitioning your resume to a CV, that still may not be enough. You may have to take it a step further and reach out to individuals directly. While this may be considered a more aggressive approach, there is no harm in expressing your interests and advocating for yourself.

I always encourage adjuncts to look up the department chair’s contact info for the department they wish to work. Sending a quick introduction and interest in teaching email could go a long way. Additionally, you can always inform them that you can provide your CV if need be. Since scheduling and finding adjuncts are usually fast-paced, I always say send the email. You could send an email at the right time and land yourself the adjunct position you want based on your qualifications, proactiveness, and ease with which your potential employer has found you.

Additionally, even if the department chair you contact is not hiring, they may have colleagues who are. Connections are critical in the adjunct faculty world!

4. Start with the Orientation Course  

Many potential adjuncts have a specific discipline they want to teach, be it English, Psychology, Education, Engineering, etc. However, at most institutions, those departments require at least a master’s degree and require related work experience. Therefore, the standards are slightly higher, with less wiggle room for exceptions, flexibility, and substitutions for hiring requirements. However, most institutions offer an orientation course. You may know this course as first-year experience, freshmen seminar, academic development/transitioning to college, preparation for academic achievement, etc.

The goal of these courses is to help students get acclimated to the institution and teach them how to do college. Many institutions require adjunct faculty to hold a bachelor’s degree instead of a master’s degree, which could be a great way to get your foot in the door at a particular school. Once you are hired as an adjunct for a specific institution, it is easier to seek out additional opportunities and move around to teach in other departments.

5. Highlight Your Teaching and other Work Experiences

Lastly, it is vital that you highlight both your teaching and other work-related experiences. Departments want to know that they are hiring the best they can, so it is your job to show them that you are the best. Be explicit in letting potential employers know how your experiences align to fit the needs of their department. Additionally, it is always great to pull from your unrelated teaching experiences to show how you can bring practical knowledge into the classroom. Demonstrating that you can merge practice and theory in your teaching philosophy and pedagogy is another excellent way to set yourself apart from your competition.

Do you have additional tips to add to the list? Or have specific strategies to help academics gaining or progressing in an administrative position? Please share. Feel free to send your responses via Twitter @TomlinAntione so that we can continue this conversation!

Author’s Bio:

Antione D. Tomlin

Dr. Antione D. Tomlin earned his PhD in Language, Literacy, and Culture from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and is an assistant professor + Chair of the Academic Literacies Department at Anne Arundel Community College.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of Interfolio.