≡ Menu

Make a Career Move to the Head of the Department in Higher Education

move to the head of the department

As a faculty member, you’ve put years into educating students, serving on committees, and publishing in the most respected journals in your field. If you are ready to make the jump and become a department head, you’ll want to take all your experience into account when developing your curriculum vitae (CV).

Many job seekers will be competing for only a limited amount of vacancies. These roles involve leading higher education academic departments, the competition for the position can frequently be intense.

A large proportion of applicants who submit to a role as a department head will not even make it to the interview stage. These candidates may be moving from being adjunct college instructors, making them familiar with working in a higher education setting.

Create a Resume or CV to Stand Out

If you cannot demonstrate you have strong written and verbal communication skills in your curriculum vitae (CV), cover letter, and related application documents, likely, you won’t land an interview. If you don’t continue to develop evidence for your communication skills in an interview, likely, you won’t be the candidate of choice.

Communicating your brand is a critical component throughout your job search.  Identify your unique selling points in your resume or curriculum vitae (CV) and cover letter to showcase what you can offer other candidates can’t.

Mentioning you are exceptional at communication is a starting point, but your goal is to make your resume readable to the committee. Have a letter of interest that tells your story and provides a narrative arc where your move to a role as a department head is a logical choice. Make it easy for readers to find the information they need to call you for an interview.

Showcase Core Competencies

Take a close look at the job posting, scrutinize the way the posting describes the position. Locate specific phrases that describe the competencies that hiring decision-makers seek in a new teacher to land a job easier.

Reflecting on those keyword phrases in your application materials will demonstrate you are comfortable with the department’s shared language. If the job applicant’s resume is reviewed before going to the hiring committee, it’s a fabulous way to make it past the initial screening.

Communicate the Benefits of Hiring You

If you have experience in another field other than education, you should not hesitate to highlight it as it may boost your resume profile against competing applicants.

Never be shy to state what you have achieved – your resume is the one place where it is reasonable to appear like you are blowing your own trumpet. Sometimes, you never know just what aspect of your background or skills will give you an upper hand over the other job applicants.

List all aspects of your training and past experiences to show you have top management skills.

A higher education department head is a manager and administrator; they play a crucial role in managing their department’s finances and budget. Include if you have successfully managed a project budget or have provided input and advice with an academic department’s budget in the past.

Financial knowledge and budget management can make or break a college or university academic department’s reputation and profile. Recruiters for a department head will often consider this one of the must-have attributes for the successful job applicant.

Determine Long-term Goals

Long-term professional goals could be part of your cover letter or in a conversation at the interview.

If appropriate, you could share what you are doing and your plans to achieve these objectives. Academic department heads at colleges oversee developing and furthering the vision and vibrancy of their department.

It is more likely a person who has developed career plans and made significant achievements will have the desire and drive to do the same for the department they lead. Keep in mind; past performance frequently indicates further performance.

For this reason, it is critical to dig deep into your past and uncover relevant career accomplishments and the skills used to achieve success.

Communication and leadership skills are fundamental attributes of a department head. Poor communication can lead to chaos and confusion within a team.

As the department head, you will be responsible for chairing department meetings and articulating important issues to fellow teachers and students. An academic department head must communicate effectively in an easy-to-understand way and leave little or no room for ambiguity.

If you can adequately highlight these aspects of your teaching career and skills in your resume, then you will be on your way to gaining a position as an academic department head.

If you need help overcoming job search anxiety, connect with Candace via email or call toll free 1 877 738-8052.