This is a guest post comes courtesy Erin Lovell Ebanks, the mind behind happyprofessor.com. Her site is a great resource for adjuncts, tenured instructors, and everyone in between. Do yourself a favor and check out her site.
Until then, check out this great guest post. Erin answers the question how academics can do the impossible and make themselves a commodity, even when the higher education market appears oversaturated and hundreds of people apply for each TT job opening.
If you’ve ever read Seth Godin’s book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? you’re familiar with the idea that in today’s world job security only exists when you can prove that you have something to offer that nobody else does.
You need to be indispensable.
Whether you’re an adjunct looking for full-time success, or on the tenure-track looking to succeed in other ventures, you need to figure out how to become invaluable and show others that the job cannot be done well without your specific skill set.
For instance, I’ve become a successful “adjunctpreneur” by doing the following 3 things that everyone in academia should be doing in order to find and take advantage of new opportunities:
1. Network: Be likable and be a genuine friend
I make a conscious effort to connect with old and new colleagues, whether they’re across the country or down the block, because I enjoy their company and I know we have each others’ best interests at heart. I promote their new business ideas and tell them about job positions they might be interested in, and they do the same for me. Spend your free time nurturing these connections, they’ll pay off enormously in the long run.
2. Stand out: Have a professional presence on social media
Build a professional website, LinkedIn page, YouTube channel, etc. As long as you’re making occasional updates and additions, these platforms will showcase your skills on a permanent basis without you having to put in a lot of extra work. The great thing is that to any future client or employer, this presence is impressive, shows your dedication to your craft, and looks like you truly went above and beyond.
3. Create: Develop a product that garners respect
Whether you offer consulting services, have great courses on Udemy, or have a self-published book or two, a fully developed product shows your audience or potential boss that you have focus and the ability to follow through on a serious project. There’s nothing like introducing yourself to a dean by handing her your published book. Forget the resume and cover letter, that might just get you the job.
Remember, it doesn’t have to be complicated or perpetually time-consuming; this is simply about bringing something to the table that nobody else can.
As a result of following my own advice and recognizing the impact these 3 key elements can have, a number of opportunities have come my way in just the last year:
I have been offered various jobs in academia (full-time teaching, part-time, administrative, etc.) after handing my book over to a friend of a friend. I have been contacted by universities for job interviews after they discovered my YouTube channel. I have had my choice of jobs, authorship opportunities for respected textbook companies, and speaking engagements because of my constant networking.
I turned myself into a linchpin in the world of academia by taking a few simple steps in the right direction. My work can speak for itself, and I feel great about that. In a world where little loyalty remains between employers and employees, it’s time to create our own job security.
In the words of Seth Godin: Are you indispensible?
Erin Lovell Ebanks is the author of the book Happy Professor: An Adjunct Instructor’s Guide to Personal, Financial, and Student Success. Erin also writes at happyprofessor.com, where she writes about student success, classroom tip,s and enjoying life. She teaches a number of online and face-to-face classes each semester, ranging from Intro to Communication to Family Communication.