If a hiring school asks for anything, they will ask for a curriculum vita (CV) – the “academic resume” – as part of your application package. Therefore, it’s a very important document and one that should be crafted with care. It helps to look at examples, to seek the guidance of academic mentors, and to get feedback from peers. An internet search will offer a great deal of advice as well. If you are on the path toward landing an online adjunct teaching job and are brushing the dust off or your CV (or creating it), you might want to consider this brief list of five mistakes to avoid when creating your online teaching CV.
Your education section is too far down in the document. If you read enough online teaching job listings, you’ll note that the most common requirement is a specific education level, either a master’s degree or a doctorate. This is not a preference, especially for accredited schools. It is mandatory. The bare minimum requirement for many accredited schools is a master’s degree (in anything) plus eighteen graduate semester credit hours in the field in which you are applying to teach. Some stipulate higher requirements. Given that this is the first level of screening a school needs to do, your education section must be on the front page of your CV, preferably first (or at least after your contact information and very brief personal objective statement). Don’t make hiring managers, screeners, or deans/chairs scroll to the fifth page to see if you meet the minimum education requirements for the position.
Listing your dissertation as a publication. If you are seeking an online adjunct teaching position (a part time, course-by-course job), then chances are the school won’t require you to have a long list of scholarly publications, invited talks/presentations, or edited book chapters. Some might prefer it, and some might require it, but publications are not nearly as common of a requirement for adjunct positions as they are for full time, tenure-track, research faculty jobs. But! If you have some, you should definitely list them on your CV!
However, keep in mind that your dissertation or your master’s thesis is not a publication. To include it in a “Publications” section could be considered padding. Yes, even if it is listed in ProQuest and widely available through interlibrary loan, it is still not a publication. Some people eventually do go on to publish their theses/dissertations in peer-reviewed journals, and if you have you can certainly include that in this section. But unless it has been accepted into a peer-reviewed journal, it is not a publication. It is, however, an important academic accomplishment so you can include the title of your dissertation or thesis in your education section where you list that degree and school.
Don’t worry if excluding your dissertation or thesis from your publication section means you won’t have a publications section in your CV. Again, it’s nice to have, but not necessarily a deal breaker when it comes to adjunct teaching – where “real world experience” tends to take precedence over research and publications.
Do not pad your CV. For the most part, the CVs I see are too modest (which we will talk about next), but I have seen some that read as unintentionally padded. Examples of padding in a CV include:
- Listing every seminar you have ever attended. You should include certificate trainings, certification courses, and any meaty professional development course you took that you had to pass in order to achieve the course objective/goal. But, if you attended a day-long seminar or went to a continuing education course as part of your licensure or job requirement, this is not something that goes on your CV.
- “Research Interests.” In general (and we’ll talk more about this below) the CV is a document that shows, it doesn’t tell. It is a list of things you have done that represent how you have grown into the professional that you are. So, if you are going to include a research section, it should be a section representing research projects, labs, or experiments that you have been directly a part of. Do not just list areas you are interested in.
This is not to say that research interests are not important to convey. You might mention your research interests in a cover letter and your interests are always fair game to mention during an interview. And it might pop up in your teaching philosophy (briefly). It’s important to keep in mind that the CV is not the only opportunity you have to describe yourself.
- Professional organizations you don’t belong to. Or, maybe better said, professional organizations you don’t belong to anymore. Really avoid this because this is something that can easily be looked up. And a school who requires membership in professional organizations may do just that. If you don’t belong to any professional organizations, you do not need to include this section. But this may be a nod to go ahead and join so that you can legitimately include that membership in your CV.
Being too modest. If you have accomplished something important in your career or in academia, it belongs on your CV. I’ve heard people say things like, “I have taught as an on-ground adjunct for years, but I only taught one online class last year because of COVID. I don’t know if that counts as “online teaching experience.” Yes! Yes, it does! Why wouldn’t it? This is something that would be highlighted on a CV.
I’ve seen people who are ABD not include their work in that graduate program on their CV because they didn’t graduate. But, you took all those classes! Remembering that some schools will hire you if you have a Master’s (in anything) and 18+ graduate credit hours in the teaching discipline, then you certainly acquired 18+ graduate credit hours if you made it all the way through the course requirements of a doctoral program (perhaps this opens up a discipline area for you to teach). You should put this information on your CV – although you should be very clear that you have not earned the degree – you have just completed the course requirements. In other words, you should mention this learning experience, but forthrightly.
Telling and not showing. The purpose of a CV is to show, through your accomplishments and achievements, the story of how you have cultivated your expertise throughout your career. Everything in the CV should be something you have done. The CV, should not include subjective descriptions of your personality or lists of your abilities or skills. Yes, a school does want someone who is a team player, they want someone who is a good time manager, and they want someone who is “results oriented,” but the CV is not the appropriate time to list those. You could potentially share some of these attributes in your cover letter; however, the part of your application that will speak to these abilities will ultimately be your letters of recommendation. It is other people who are in the best position to describe you to those who are hiring.
There is a lot more to creating an effective online teaching CV than avoiding mistakes, but hopefully this article has helped orient you to what belongs – and doesn’t belong – on a curriculum vita. For more guidance on and a professional, thorough review of your CV (as well as your cover letter and Statement of Teaching Philosophy) consider our 4-week course, OnRamp: A Practical Guide to Landing an Online Teaching Job. In this course, we go step-by-step through your unique online teaching job application. The course also provides the information, resources, expertise, and community needed to make the whole process of finding online teaching work a lot less lonely, confusing, frustrating, and uncertain.