One of my goals as an adjunct instructor — and reasons for this blog — is to share the pedagogical and professional knowledge I’ve gained through my experiences.

To that end, I have blogged about celebrating my fifth year as an adjunct instructor and how I began my career in academia — along with insights into using social media to find a job.

As we approach the start of a new year — and now that it’s clear the Mayans were, in fact, wrong about the end of the world — many of you might be curious about starting a new career as an adjunct instructor.

This blog post is designed to help you understand your options and leverage resources so you can do just that. To help you achieve your goal of becoming an adjunct instructor, I’d like to introduce you to Dr. Dani Babb.

An author, professor, and TV commentator, Dani is the Founder and CEO of The Babb Group, a provider of  resources and consulting for online professors, business owners and real estate investors.

Her website, TheBabbGroup.com offers an array of  resources for online students and online teacherscurriculum vitae templates, professional CV writing services, an online teaching newsletter, and more.

One very helpful resource is a service that distributes monthly online teaching job leads via email. For $7 a month or $75 for a year (paid via PayPal) subscribers receive leads several times per week.

Each lead includes the name of the school, the area of specialization, and the link or contact info to apply. All leads are verified by the Babb Group and you can cancel at anytime.

According to information provided to me by Dani, the emails are a successful job search strategy:

  • Within Six Months:
    • 88% of subscribers with a doctorate degree find a job.
    • 55% of subscribers with a master’s degree find a job.
  • Within One Year:
    • 94% of subscribers with a doctorate degree find a job.
    • 77% of subscribers with a master’s degree find a job.

Additionally, in the video below, Dani shares the most frequently asked questions about getting your first online teaching job:

In summary, her advice (along with some of my additional insights) is to:

  1. Network with Online Teachers (0:21): The Babb Group manages two resources, a Facebook Group and a Yahoo Group, which are tools you can use to develop relationships with more than 6,500 online teachers. Another resource is the Chronicle of Higher Education Forums.
  2. Prepare Your Curriculum Vita (0:45): Unlike a typical professional resume an academic curriculum vita — commonly called a CV —  is a comprehensive accounting of your entire career. A CV should include your work history, education, special training, honors, publications, presentations, community service, and other related information. Write as many pages as is needed to communicate your experience, abilities, and interests.
  3. Strengthen Your Letter of Introduction (1:19): Summarize your strengths in a way that is relevant to the opportunity, highlighting areas of your expertise that position you as the perfect candidate. Be sure to include your letter in the body of your email (don’t attach it).
  4. Research the School and Position (1:31)If you are working from a canned introductory letter, research specific points about the school and include those. Know about the position along with the school, its students, and its educational approach.
  5. Think of Related Experience (1:42): If you have never before taught online think about ways you have experience educating adults. Have you helped others understand a new technology where you work? Have you guest lectured? Have you been an online student? Don’t overlook any angle you can use to illustrate relevant experience.
  6. List the Learning Management Systems You’ve Used (2:11): Include clearly in your CV a list of all learning management systems (LMS) you have used — as a student and instructor.
  7. Disregard Doctoral Degree Requirements (2:26): Even if a position requires a doctorate and you have a master’s degree apply anyway; you might satisfy the position’s requirements in other ways or there may be another position open at the university for which you are qualified.
  8. Be Persistent (2:36): Getting a job teaching online is a numbers game. The market is highly competitive, and there are more online adjuncts today than ever before. Persistence pays off, however: sometimes it can take more than 100 applications to get your first online teaching job.
  9. Use a Job Lead Service (3:00): If you don’t have the time to hunt for jobs, consider using the Babb Group’s service that distributes monthly online teaching job leads via email (described above).
  10. Have Transcripts and Recommendations Ready (3:10): Have transcripts and letters of recommendations ready when  human resources or a dean calls; demonstrate your responsiveness and responsibility with actions!

In conclusion, as Dani explains in her video, even if you’ve never taught online, there’s no time like the present to start. We’ve all had no experience at one point, so why not start your online teaching experience now?

Is social media the new resume?

Chris Hutchins thinks so. On Friday, May 1, 2009 I caught up with Chris, the founder of Laid Off Camp during a meeting of the networking and collaborative career resource at Blankspaces. I invited him to expand on a statement he made during an interview with Leo Laporte on  the March 8, 2009 TWiT.tv “This Week in Tech” show (where he was joined by Brian Shaler):

“Social media is the new resume.”

In response to his statement, I asked Chris the following questions which he answered in the video below:

  1. Why is social media the “new resume?”
  2. Does social media help represent a candidate in a more three dimensionally way? Can it give employers a fuller sense of who a candidate really is?
  3. Have you had an experience with a recruiter using 1.0 tools who could not adapt to the 2.0 landscape?
  4. Have you had any experiences with a firm that made an effort to understand you as a person, but were still ineffective?
  5. Are there certain industries for which social media is naturally a better fit?
  6. Is there greater risk or reward with using social media to reveal the “real you?” What is the role of an employer in that risk or reward?
  7. What is your long-term vision for Laid Off Camp?
  8. How can employers participate in and benefit from Laid Off Camp?

Chris was gracious enough to spend some time with me and very candidly addressed each of my inquiries:

With the passage of time, Chris is now working for Milk — a mobile application development company based in San Francisco, CA  — although Laid Off Camp remains a proud part of his professional past.  Update: On March 16, 2012 Chris announced via his Twitter account that Milk, and it’s staff, had been acquired by Google; Chris is now a product manager at Google.

Speaking of the passage of time, since this interview was originally recorded, social media has continued to evolve as an exceptionally viable means by which individuals can market themselves and secure full-time employment and/or contract work — in social media or other industries.

Notably, according to a recent LA Times article, a growing number of employers are hiring people to mange their social media presence. If you are curious to learn how businesses are using social media to recruit candidates, you might find this infographic from Mashable of interest.

One particularly active resource for social media positions is the crowdsourced Social Media Jobs Group on Facebook.  Another resource includes the Social Media Jobs account on Twitter.

Mashable also offers helpful advice about how to get a job using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+. If you’re not sure where to start, this Mashable article will teach you how to create an online resume with a website, videos, documents, and LinkedIn.

One recent humorous take on using social media to find a job involved Matthew Epstein donning a fake mustache in a creative and compelling effort to land a job at Google. Although his initial goal was not realized, his campaign garnered significant attention and helped get him hired as a product marketing manager at Sigfig, a web-based investment and financial management service.

Ironically, some criminals are also finding “jobs” using social media, so please be careful what you share online! Personally, I have been actively using social media since roughly November 2008 (I actually created my Facebook account a year earlier, but didn’t begin using it immediately).

Since that time the various social media tools and platforms — including Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn — with which I have experimented have helped me find several adjunct teaching opportunities.

I also launched a personal website with which I have consolidated my social media profiles while also offering a centralized resource through which I communicate who I am and the value I can add to any organization.

Additionally, this blog also provides a platform with which I can share knowledge while also promoting my skills to potential employers. Without question, social media has been a tremendous career enhancing tool!

In one such example, I was hired to teach marketing courses at UCLA Extension almost entirely because of a referral from Beverly Macy. Beverly is the CEO of Gravity Summit, a professional speaker and co-author of the book “The Power of Real-Time Marketing” (affiliate link). She also teaches a social media marketing class for UCLA Extension.

Beverly Macy and Matthew Gilbert at UCLA Gravity Summit on February 25, 2009

I first came to know Beverly on Twitter (in late 2008 or very early in 2009), just prior to the first Gravity Summit conference at UCLA in February 2009 (which I attended). Beverly and I later connected via Facebook in August 2009 and, in July 2010, she referred my resume to her contacts at UCLA.

After several months of administration and preparation I finally began teaching online the first of two courses with which I am now entrusted: MGMT X 460.394, New Media Marketing (Online). In the fall semester I added MGMT X 460.300, Consumer Behavior (on campus), to my repertoire. I anticipate continuing to teach these two courses for the foreseeable future and am very grateful for the privilege to do so.

Were it not for Twitter, I would have never come to know Beverly, and had I not come to know Beverly, I would have never had a chance to teach these classes.  I am forever grateful to Beverly, Twitter, and social media in general!

In what ways has social media played a part in your own career development and/or job search?

This past week has been one of exceptional transition for me on multiple levels: physically, metaphysically, emotionally, personally and professionally. I am sure I left out a few other relevant words that also end in “lly” but you get the idea.

After realizing that an “employment experiment” into which I recently endeavored was not a fit for me, instead of postponing the inevitable, I made a conscious decision to recuse myself before things became untenable. After a reasonably painless, but seemingly too long final two weeks, my last day was this past Friday.

I am now filled with an empowering sense of pride and excitement. Interestingly, this feeling lingered in the back of my mind on and off for several months, but never found a conduit through which it could blossom. However, it began to emerge during New Student Orientation (NSO) at Fielding Graduate Unviersity and has been a constant undercurrent ever since.

UC Santa Barbara: 1109 North HallSomething about the experience really “flipped a switch” and confirmed to me that teaching is the path I need to pursue.  After NSO I felt as if I had to heed this call; nothing else would satiate it. I primarily see myself as a classroom teacher and secondarily in a corporate training role, although these two incarnations of the same concept are not mutually exclusive: I can envision serving in both capacities concurrently.

Beyond being inspired by the whole NSO experience on an emotional level, I also experienced tangible changes happening on a more physical level. There was positive energy in action. From connections I made during NSO to my interviewing with and being hired to teach at UC Santa Barbara Extension on the same day NSO ended,  there was a palpable energy in the air that finally seemed to be connecting all of the right dots for me. It was as if NSO — and by extrapolation Fielding — was a conduit of opportunity for me.

I have “gone out on my own” before, but my efforts were focused on a skill, not a strength — and that has made all the difference. During previous attempts I tried to stake my claim as a marketing consultant specializing in website design — and while I always had “some” work, I was never fully able to get into gear. And, even when I did get some kind of rhythm going, I wasn’t fully engaged by it. I still enjoy working on websites and see it as an incomparable medium for education, but now realize that my calling is not as a freelance web designer.

I am now committed to and focused on opportunities that seem to be continuously revealing themselves to me, recognizing how long I waited for this to happen and how fortunate I feel to finally be at this point.  Ironically, I enjoy teaching marketing and find some humor in the fact that it is where my interests still are. But, I realize now that with learning as my top strength, I need to focus on teaching as the expression of my intention.

When I initially made this decision, I had a few opportunities locked in, but it was far from a “safety net.” However, in just a few weeks, the stars and planets seem to be in alignment. I am again teaching online writing and communication courses for Axia College of University of Phoenix and will start teaching in the marketing professional certificate program of UC Santa Barbara Extension in January.

In the coming weeks I am expecting to be teaching writing and possibly business courses for another private university. I also plan to work with younger students in need of specialized instruction through Kaplan K12 Learning Services where I was invited on Saturday to participate in teacher training after an “audition” on Thursday! I still have a few other options in progress, and am just trying to be careful not to over-commit. After all, I still need time for studying of my own!

I think the icing on the cake came tonight when I went go get some books at Barnes and Noble where they gave me an “Educator’s Discount Card.” To paraphrase Pinocchio’s statement to Gepetto: I’m a real teacher now!