The academic job application is an increasingly common application form, as more and more academics choose to apply for teaching jobs in schools instead of senior appointments in universities. When applying for a teaching job, you will be asked to provide a number of samples of your work – either published work or writing samples – to demonstrate your ability to carry out the responsibilities of the job.
What is a writing sample?
A writing sample is a piece of writing that you have previously published or are currently working on, either in-house or externally, and that is representative of your ability to carry out the responsibilities of a teaching job.
The advantage of a writing sample is that it allows the reader to get a genuine sense of what you are like as a writer; there is little to no editing or revision of the sample so, in theory, the reader can get a good impression of your work ethic and consistency.
What is a publication?
A publication is a work that you have authored (or co-authored) and that is available for general consumption. When applying for a teaching job, you will be asked to provide a number of publications to demonstrate your ability to carry out the responsibilities of the job. Your publications will then be assessed alongside your other samples in the application process.
The advantage of a publication is that it allows the reader to get an idea of your ability to carry out the tasks that will be required of them in their day-to-day role; you will have had the opportunity to edit the work and hone your communication skills prior to submitting the publication for assessment.
Are You Sure That You Want to Apply for a Teaching Job?
Before you rush into applying for a teaching job, you should really ask yourself two questions:
- Do you want to teach?
- Are you sure that you are able to carry out the responsibilities of a teacher?
If the answer to either question is ‘no’, then now might be the right time to consider something else. Many academics will tell you that teaching is a fantastic way to develop as a scholar, however, if you are asking yourself these questions, then you might already know that you want to explore other career options.
The Differences Between a Publication and a Writing Sample
You need to consider what type of publication you are going to use as a sample in your job application. There are two main types of publication:
A provisional publication is one that you have submitted for external review. When applying for a teaching job, you will be asked to provide a number of examples of your work that has been subject to external review. Your prospective employers will then have the opportunity to comment on your work, either positively or negatively, and if you are lucky, they will even find a few words of praise.
Provisional publications are often referred to as ‘drafts’ or ‘early versions’ of a work and, although they may not be fully polished, they give the reader a good impression of your progress and a good feeling that your work is being considered by experts in your field. A good number of schools and universities will only consider your application for a teaching post if you have a substantial number of your work’s been subject to external review.
What is the difference between a draft and a final version of a publication?
The difference between a draft and a final version of a publication is largely down to when the work is accepted for publication and how much time you have to complete it. If you are applying for a job where you know you are going to be asked to submit a final version of your work, then you should aim to have a draft as close to the finished article as possible. Schools and universities will typically accept final versions of a work, however, if you are applying for a more senior or permanent position, then you should aim to have as many drafts as possible, as it shows that you are actively pursuing publication and keen to develop your expertise.
What Should I Include in My Writing Samples?
When applying for a position as a teaching assistant, you will be provided with a list of required documents to include in your application pack. Your writing samples will be among the collection of documents that you are asked to provide, so it is worth thinking about what you might include in this section of your application. Keep in mind that your application will be judged on the quality of your work and so you should try to provide the best possible samples available. In order to do this, you might want to consider including some of the following within your writing samples.
- The Introduction
- An Outline
- Some High-Quality Research
- An Interview
- An Article
- A Review
The Benefits of Writing Samples
The main benefits of providing a writing sample are as follows:
- It allows the reader to get a good impression of your ability to carry out the responsibilities of a teaching job.
- It allows the reader to get an impression of your work ethic and commitment to your craft.
- It allows you to write about a topic that you are an expert in, something that you can draw upon as a source for interesting lectures or seminars.
- It allows you to demonstrate your research skills and how you have used those skills to become an expert in your field.
It should be noted that, although you are asked to provide a publication as part of your application for a teaching job, this is not the only way that you can demonstrate your research expertise. You can cite an article that you have written in a research paper, or you can contribute to a research project in progress and get credited for your expertise in the field. This form of academic self-promotion will then become part of your application, alongside your writing samples.
Why Should I Care About My Research Expertise?
The main reason that you should care about your research expertise is because it can lead you to becoming a more attractive candidate for a teaching job. Your prospective employers will want to see that you are an expert in your field and, as an added bonus, it will also enhance your application’s overall quality. When applying for a position in academia, your research expertise will become one of the deciding factors in your candidacy for a job – especially if you don’t have a substantial number of published works to demonstrate your academic prowess. In these situations, your research track record can be more important than your actual teaching experience. While it would be wonderful if all schools and universities could promote from within, in practice, they often have to turn to external agencies to fill teaching positions.
Are You Ready to Apply for a Teaching Job?
As we mentioned previously, many academics opt to apply for teaching jobs in schools instead of senior positions in universities. If you have decided that you want to apply for a teaching job but don’t have the required qualification, then you might want to consider an accredited teacher training program. These programs will equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills to become an excellent teacher and can help you gain the recognition that you deserve. An accredited teacher training program will also give you the opportunity to gain valuable teaching experience, which can only be beneficial to your future. Remember to keep your application as neat as possible, include all necessary documentation, and tailor your language to suit the requirements of the job that you are applying for.