How Adjunct Faculty Members Can Use Lean Times to Boost Their Career

Underemployment is now a grave concern, especially in highly developed countries.

Professionals with impressive credentials are being forced to work in arrangements that offer little security and no benefits at all.

In the US and the UK, adjunct faculty members are the face of underemployment. Many of them hold master’s degrees, and some even have doctorates. However, they are considered part-time workers. The situation is discouraging, they say, but it has become the way of their professional life.

Indeed, landing a job that you can rely on rarely comes that easily – especially if you are eyeing a position in a particular industry. The demand for teachers, for instance, has decreased since the recession due to a myriad of factors.

So, if you graduated from university with the hope of teaching in a school, finding a good teaching position that you can live off of may prove frustrating.

Labor and employment relations experts say that underemployment is the new normal for a lot of industries and the situation will not change for a long time. Therefore, it is imperative to become creative and resourceful to restore balance in your life as a working individual. This is the best strategy to outwork the desperate times and actually improve your quality of life.

Solutions for “Underemployed” Educators

Adjunct faculty members actually have a variety of options to consider if they are dissatisfied with their current teaching position. Listed below are four of them.

  1. Consider working overseas

Depending on your target country, there may be more career opportunities abroad that do not only pay well but can also provide you with the professional growth you are looking for.

Also, moving abroad for a job may be that much-needed relief from the economic strains present in where you currently live such as the higher cost of daily living.

It is worth noting, too, that there are job openings abroad that will allow you to bring your entire family.

Additionally, the company or learning institution hiring you may have beneficial provisions for your family as well, such as free education for your children and healthcare. A lot of international schools in Asia and the MENA region are known to offer such perks.

  1. Think like a businessperson

Financial gurus always say that savvy business folks are the most resilient during economically desperate times. Therefore, start thinking about your career as a business, and operate like a businessperson.

Business folks always keep an eye out for growth and additional income opportunities. If you are an adjunct faculty member, you already have the most important resources to create a business — knowledge, research and time management skills, and the ability to speak to people.

Business ideas for teachers are tutorial services (both online and offline), community training programs, blogging, vlogging, and consultation services, to name a few.

  1. Volunteer

Although this does not yield big income right away, in the long run, it may. Volunteering your expertise will establish you further as an authority and, at the same time, it can help you create an employment network.

If your services prove to be quite valuable for a lot of people, a demand for “you” may grow.

For example, if you have a degree in European languages, you can volunteer to teach language classes to European immigrants who need help with ESL. If you make that a limited but completely worthy deal, you can promote short courses to the same audience once your volunteer service period is done.

  1. Grow your knowledge and create an alternative career

Identify skills that are compatible with what you already have and acquire these skills. Doing this will expand the employment landscape for you and allow you to explore alternative careers that may be more “economically supportive” of you.

For example, if you are an English teacher who teaches creative writing, learn about illustration. This can open the door for you to get your work into bookstores nationwide or even on Amazon.

Or, if you teach theater, you can study makeup and work in theater productions as a makeup artist. From this gig, you can start offering makeup courses and be a makeup teacher in beauty schools or on YouTube.

When your job is actually making your life more difficult, take a different route.

It’s difficult to expect improved results from doing the same thing over and over again (take it from Einstein).

Consider a new frontier; it may just hold a much better professional future for you.


David Mackenzie, a recruitment professional with over 20 years’ experience in the field and a record of entrepreneurial accomplishment, is Managing Director and Head of HR at Mackenzie Jones. As the Group MD, David is responsible for the overall direction of the Mackenzie Jones Group, including Mackenzie Jones, MumsAtWork, MENA Solutions, Simply Digital and ThinkTech.