It’s that time of year again! Time for me to start filling my part time slots for the next academic year. Every year it’s the same process. In March I open a job requisition, in April I interview and in May I hire for the fall. Hiring faculty is one of the most important aspects of my job.
I imagine that for part timers this time of year is also predictable. On your end you are filling out the applications I will eventually separate into “yes”, “no” and “maybe” piles. You are carefully crafting cover letters that I will later survey to find actual examples that you are as forward-thinking as you claim to be. Perhaps you are having friends and colleagues review your CV, looking for the spelling and consistency errors that might catch my eye.
I confess. It’s all true. I do all of those things above. But there’s more….
Once I start to get applications I start my three piles. I go through once and pick out my definite entrants into the “yes” pile. How do you get in my “yes” pile? You complete the application in its entirety. You create a one page cover letter to go along with your three page maximum resume or CV. Be concise, yet thorough with your resume or CV. Yes, I need a cover letter. I need to get to know you and more importantly I need to get the feel that you specifically want to work with community college students.
On your resume or CV list your teaching experience on the first page. I only move on to reading pages two and three if I see that you have some teaching or teaching-like experience. I prefer community college teaching experience, but anything you can show me that demonstrates teaching will be sufficient. Did you teach a workshop? Tutor kids after school? Substitute in the school system? Teaching, teaching, teaching. Teaching and any activity that directly involves students overrides any research experience or publications on your resume or CV.
What else do I look for? I look for applicants who are technologically advanced. Being “proficient” at using Blackboard and PowerPoint is not enough. Do you know how to integrate apps into classroom or online instruction? Great! Give me a two line summary of how you have used technology in your teaching in the cover letter. What about a link to a lesson you made using Prezi or Camtasia?
After my “yes” pile, I go through a second time looking carefully at the remaining applications for who will go in the “no” pile and who will go in the “maybe” pile. Sometimes there are definite red flags that lead to the “no” pile. This would include large gaps of unemployment and not wanting me to contact any of your past employers. Often times I get applications that don’t seem thought out or intentional; there will be no personalized cover letter, no evident teaching experience and a multitude of spelling and grammar errors. Those types of applications lead me to believe that the “idea” of working in education was just a fly-by thought that occurred while looking through an online job board. I generally put anyone without teaching experience or has earned all of their degrees online in the “no” pile. I support online education, but I believe there is a large variation in quality of instruction between institutions.
The “maybe” pile is a bit trickier. It’s always my smallest pile (1 or 2 applicants at most) and if your application falls here, I’m just not sure about you. Typically, these applicants are more yes than a hard no. Maybe you have written a really solid cover letter making a convincing argument as to why you want to teach at the community college, even with no experience. Or you have taught K-12, but not at the college level. I’ve had different variations in the “maybe” pile. Some of my best and worst hires have been from the “maybe” pile.
Generally, I do a quick phone screening with applicants in my “yes” and “maybe” piles. I can tell from a phone screening who I want to move forward with a formal interview. It took me awhile to hone this skill, but if I get off the phone with you and my gut feeling tells me you’re not a good fit, you probably aren’t. Often times, this is a result of poor interpersonal skills on the applicant’s end. Of course, I also consider practical things such as teaching availability for the semester, but if our conversation is awkward and stilted or maybe too casual that makes me think twice about a formal interview. If you’re going to be interacting with students, you should be approachable, flexible and personable even during the interview process.
It’s time to interview!
I could write an entire article on interesting things I have seen during the interview process. Let me summarize my advice like this: dress like you are going to dinner with your grandma. Think and act conservative and clean. Please do not show me your cleavage or chest hair. Do not sit back, put your hands behind your head and your feet up on the desk. Things will not work out in your favor if you do these things, and not just because I do not care for these behaviors, but because you will have little credibility with my students.
Before I hire you, I admit that I do look online to make sure you are going to represent my college positively and be a favorable role model for my students. Most colleges conduct a criminal background check for convictions, but my check is different. I’m looking to make sure I don’t see any indication that you engage in activities that are illegal or socially unacceptable that occur in or out of the classroom. I can’t have someone who makes derogatory statements about individuals from a certain culture or race teaching in a classroom.
I start with a regular Google search of your name. Sometimes I search your name and the town you live in or your last place of employment. I look through our local law enforcement databases as well for arrests and mugshots. I look at professor ratings sites, although I take that information lightly. Is your name on any public notes or meetings? I always check LinkedIn and see if we know anyone in common and also what groups you belong to and if you’ve made any postings. Watch what you put on social media, because it is there for all to see. Facebook seems to be the place where I find the most telling information. Privacy settings are there so people like me won’t make decisions about your future based on what you post. Use them.
These are my confessions. I have high expectations for faculty whom I hire. The truth is, faculty are the valued experts who are on the front line with my students. The importance of that position is not lost on me. Are my expectations are high? Yes. Yes they are high. Good enough isn’t good enough for my students. My students deserve the best so I hire the best!