How to use Guest Lecturer Jobs to Raise your Profile

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As well as teaching at your own institution there are many ways that you can use your skills as a lecturer to enhance your reputation as a scholar, to help you to build your career profile and maybe even to earn more money as well.

Why would I be a guest lecturer?

The REF, the government’s audit of UK universities, judges each department on its scholars’ reputations. As well as publishing your research, to enhance your reputation, you need to show that you take a full part in the development of your field both in a professional and public context.

How can I do this?

1) Lecturing for other universities

Being invited to give lectures on undergraduate or postgraduate teaching programmes at other universities might sound as though you are being asked to work for free but this is not the case. It offers you real career benefits. More people will become aware of your research expertise and such invitations show that your reputation is growing. And many of these positions offer you travel and accommodation expenses; some may even offer a fee.

2) Keynote speaker at conferences or seminars

An obvious way of developing a reputation in your field is to be invited to be a keynote speaker at a conference. The difference between a keynote speaker and a regular paper is that the keynote speaker is invited directly by the conference organisers and his or her paper is supposed to talk to the themes of the whole conference, whereas other paper givers’ work is more specialised and they have to submit proposals to be judged before acceptance.

Networking is vital to solicit such invitations. You need to take every opportunity to discuss your work with scholars in your field. Every time you present a paper at a conference, there may be someone in the audience impressed by your work who will invite you to speak elsewhere. Again, many of these invitations come with paid expenses and perhaps also a fee.

3) Lecturing to other organisations, for example, local history groups

Lecturing work outside academia is also important if you are to build a reputation as a scholar of repute in your field. You may be invited to speak to local organisations with an interest in your area. These sorts of jobs can be included on your CV because they show that you are considered an expert in your area, even if the academic standard of your presentation is less rigorous than it would be to a university audience.

4) Media work

This is another option to consider if you are trying to enhance your reputation, although it can be a controversial approach. Presenting a programme, being interviewed for TV or radio, or being asked to contribute to a newspaper or magazine can enhance your profile, or it can damage it if the programme is edited in such a way that your contribution is misleading or not respected by fellow academics. However, the possibility should not be dismissed because developing a media profile can benefit you and your university if handled correctly.

How to be invited

As with many aspects of academic life, being invited to undertake guest lecturing work happens when you talk to people so networking is central to this process. When you meet colleagues at conferences or workshops, they will alert you to openings in their own department. Very often these positions will not be advertised in any formal way and will be promoted via word of mouth among staff members’ networks. So it is important to make it clear to everyone you talk to that you are interested in such opportunities. Preparing a set of business cards can help to keep you in the mind of the academics making these decisions. 

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