Landing a Teaching Assignment

by ROBERT WATSON AND CYNTHIA MacGREGOR

The application and hiring process may vary from one college to another, but there are common steps to take to improve the chances of being successful at getting a teaching assignment as an adjunct professor.

These steps center around how and to whom to apply, as well as strategies that enhance the application materials.

The “who” and “what” of applications for adjunct positions typically begins in the department itself or in the continuing education division of the university. The secretary for the educational administration department will likely know how the applications are processed. A phone call to the secretary will probably uncover to whom applications are to be made and what should be included.

Standard to any application is a curriculum vita and a cover letter. An application form may be required. The curriculum vita should include relevant teaching experience, including workshops or non-credit classes taught. In addition, any scholarly publications or presentations, especially recent ones, will be a definite strength.

Before submitting an application, become familiar with the department’s course offerings by reviewing a catalog and/or course schedule. When writing a cover letter, an applicant should include a list of the courses he or she has the expertise to teach. It might also help to indicate availability, especially what semesters the applicant is available and what evenings work best. Many adjunct assignments are made with little time to sort through applications so including those details in the cover letter can be advantageous.

You can enhance your chances of landing a part-time teaching post by considering the strategies of unsuccessful applicants. Some applications provide too little information to clearly demonstrate an applicant has something to offer the department. Also an applicant known to teach at multiple colleges can present a problem for departments that prefer exclusivity. Obviously any application materials should be professionally prepared rather than sloppy photocopies.

If the applicant’s expertise doesn’t fit the needs of the department, the application may be tabled for another semester. Applicants willing and able to teach a variety of courses and who are able to highlight that fact in their applications are more likely to be given a teaching assignment