It’s a tight market for job hunters right now. To secure your instructional design dream job, you’re going to need a powerful tool kit, and that includes a great instructional design portfolio on top of:
- A well-crafted resume
- Personalized cover letter
- Social media presence
- Stellar references
If your resume still needs work, check out this free guide for all my best tips! Then, toggle back to this article to get to work on your instructional design portfolio.
How To Create an Instructional Design Portfolio That Actually Gets You a Job
More than any other part of your toolkit, a portfolio can help you get called for an interview by highlighting your talents and abilities, not just as lines on a resume but as finished products. While not every job explicitly requests a portfolio, sharing one with hiring managers or potential clients gives you an edge over your competition.
In a cut-throat industry where hiring managers may be looking at thousands of applicants, that’s a huge advantage. So, how do you make an impactful and attractive instructional design portfolio? Let’s walk through the steps together!
Step 1: Know Your Career Goals
Before investing time into creating a portfolio, take a moment to clarify your intentions. Your goals will help guide the decisions you make as you move forward.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What are your career objectives?
- Are you actively seeking employment?
- Looking for freelance gigs?
- Or trying to create an up-to-date exhibit of your work?
Each of these will influence what you include in your instructional design portfolio.
Seeking employment in a corporate or higher education role?
Focus on creating a balanced portfolio that sells your most significant strengths. Choose to illustrate a variety of your skills and highlight any relevant experience.
Trying to land freelance gigs?
Incorporate your portfolio into a more sales-friendly format that includes information on your availability and rates.
Sites like Upwork and Fiverr offer this service for free (but will take a percentage of your earning). You can also host a portfolio on a free Google site or pay a monthly fee to use a more professional site like Squarespace or Wix.
Looking to build your reputation as a learningpreneur?
Suppose you’re looking to showcase your work and maybe establish credibility as a reputable figure in the industry. In that case, couple your portfolio with a blog that you update regularly. A strong social media presence that supports your views on instructional design is another way to round out your presence.
Step 2: Pick the Perfect Projects for your Instructional Design Portfolio
The projects you select for your portfolio should match the kind of job you’re looking for. I always suggest tailoring your resume and cover letter to each individual job post. But it can’t hurt to also have a good rotation of projects you showcase for different types of job applications.
Conduct some research into your desired field: wade through job descriptions, probe around on forums, and, if possible, set up informational interviews with professionals who are already doing your dream job. Try to identify the most pertinent skills that hiring managers are looking for.
Here’s an example. If you’re looking for a corporate instructional design job, you can showcase work you’ve done encompassing employee training, training-related software packages, and video creation.
Don’t worry if you’re new to the industry. You can still create a respectable portfolio without any paid professional experience.
Do this by sharing relevant artifacts from your education or current job. You can also design your own projects.
If you’re interested in learning how to start a project from scratch that you can include in your portfolio, you have to get on the waitlist for the Instructional Design Accelerator course.
Step 3: Find a Website to Host your Instructional Design Portfolio
The easiest way to assemble and exhibit your portfolio is on a website. Files that must be emailed or uploaded and even physical portfolios have their place sometimes. But you can never go wrong when you have a simple link to send off all your best work samples.
Uploading your portfolio online also improves your online presence and increases the chances of recruiters and potential employers reaching out to you directly.
Depending on how internet-savvy you are, you have a couple of different options. The most straightforward technique is to post your portfolio on a dedicated portfolio-sharing website.
Options like Carbonmade and Portfoliobox offer pre-built portfolio sites that don’t require technical skills so you can share your projects quickly and easily. There’s also Behance, which is very graphics-centered and is favored by artists. However, with this approach, you miss out on a lot of the flexibility you get by configuring your website.
The more creatively flexible option is to host your portfolio on your website. It’s comparatively easier to set up a website these days using services like Wix or Squarespace (like I mentioned earlier) or WordPress. Many of these sites have pre-made portfolio samples, or, if you have the skills, you can create your own template. Just be mindful of choosing a design that’s well-organized, easy to understand, and represents you as a brand.
With a personal website, you also have the option of hosting a blog or other materials on-site as well. As a bonus, building your website is a way to showcase your creativity to potential employers.
Step 4: Organize and Summarize your Portfolio Contents
Although their designs may vary to some extent, most instructional design portfolios have similar elements. Of these, the only essential thing is to include examples of your work, but consider providing potential employers a bit more information regarding yourself and your background history.
Here are some additional elements that can help your portfolio stand out:
This short paragraph is similar to the objectives stated in a curriculum vitae(CV): it sheds light on who you are and what you’re looking for. It’s commonly displayed near the top of your page prominently, so visitors to your portfolio immediately notice if your interests align.
This is by far the most critical part of building your portfolio: examples of your work! This is where you will share artifacts from your training, resources you created as part of your past jobs, or completely new work you’ve created for the portfolio.
The kinds of projects you include will vary, depending on your expertise and goals, but common things to include in your instructional design portfolio are:
- eLearning examples
- Participant and Facilitator Guides
- Evaluations/QA Documents
- Job Aides/Quick Reference Guides
These might take the form of screenshots, video tutorials, Google Docs, slide shows, etc. You can showcase your work in any medium you like, as long as it’s easy for the viewer to understand.
Spend time thinking about your biggest strengths and what you do very well. Even if you are still building skills in certain instructional design areas, you want to put your best skills and talents on center stage.
For each of your works, include a detailed description of the project. Include the project’s objective, your specific involvement (if you didn’t create the entire finished product), the tools you used, and any other pertinent details.
Incorporate at least three projects that display the diversity of your skills. There’s no limit on how many projects you can list; however, no hiring manager will take the time to sift through dozens of different projects or watch long videos, so make their job easier by highlighting only the cream of the crop.
“About Me” Section
Your “About Me” or biography section is your opportunity to add a personal touch to your professional package. While the introduction is meant to be just one or two sentences stating your objectives, your biography can be more extensive and in-depth.
Don’t post a complete resume; instead, stay within the confines of two or three paragraphs, sharing only the highlights of your education and employment history. Incorporate notable certifications or awards you’ve won as well.
Some people also prefer to include a photo as a personalized touch, but this is a personal choice and never essential or required.
While most hiring managers will be viewing your portfolio because you expressly shared it with them, there is always a chance that someone will come across your portfolio on their own, mainly if you are using it to look for freelance work.
There’s no point in impressing potential job prospects if they have no way to reach out to you. So make sure to include, at the very minimum, an email address where people can message you for more information.
If you want to go one step further, you can create a contact form or link to your social media accounts.
Wrapping it up
I know this is a lot of information, especially if you feel like you’re starting from scratch. My best advice is to take it one step at a time- literally! Focus on one thing every day or every week. Before long, you’ll have an amazing instructional design portfolio that will get you hired.
If you need an extra push or know you’ll need to create a project from scratch, don’t forget to look into the Instructional Design Accelerator course. You’ll finish the course with a reviewed portfolio, tons of new instructional design knowledge, and contacts with other professions in the field.
The Testimonials are In:
Working with Shanwtay and Katie at the Instructional Design Company was a dream come true. Their creativity, expertise, and professionalism throughout the entire process was beyond top notch. I engaged them to help turn my first book into a training course, and I could not be happier with how the final product turned out. If you have an instructional design project and you’re considering which company to work with, you can stop your search and thank me later. They are truly the best in the business.
I joined the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program because I struggled to find jobs in instructional design beyond the development phase. I’ve done a couple of training programs with lots of random projects, but I was overwhelmed, not connecting the dots, and not good at structuring my writing to hit learning objectives. I was looking for motivation and direction at beginning a better Instructional Designer.
After taking the Instructional Design & Tech Certificate program and joining my fantastic team for support, I found the structure and approach to be what I need to take my next steps, evening improving my skills in the development stage.
Teacher, Future Instructional Designer
I love how this course let’s you work at your own pace. I got great tips and learned many things. The ongoing support for multiple people and groups is what I love the best. You are never alone in this process. I have been able to adjust my resume and began creating a portfolio of work I’ve completed to add when applying for jobs. I use many of the PowerPoint skills in my lessons and trainings. I would highly recommend this for anyone wanting to become an instructional designer.
Teacher, Future Instructional Designer
I have searched for the last few years to find some suitable career change where I wouldn’t have to earn another degree and where I could use the talents and skills I already have as a teacher. When I came across the Instructional Design Accelerator course, I loved the fact that Shawntay was a former teacher and could relate to a teacher’s need to transition from the classroom. This was what sold the course for me. Her experiences are invaluable especially when translating teacher duties to instructional designer duties. I would (and have) recommended this program to other teachers I know who are looking to transition out of the classroom. I do appreciate ALL of her feedback on my projects!
L&D Project Manager
The Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator certificate program is one of the most comprehensive ID programs out there for beginners. If you’re looking to grow your schools in ID and development then I highly recommend this program. Not only will this program give you an overview of theory, but you will receive a thorough walkthrough of how to apply what you have learned. Although I had already secured a position in Learning & Development when I bought this course, it helped me to move up into a new position as a Learning & Development Project Manager!
Future Instructional Designer
If you have any interest in ID, sign up for this program NOW! Shawntay and her team are top notch! The course content exceeded my expectations in a big way and the encouragement and support continues to be so valuable. You will not feel alone going through this course, you will learn so much, you’ll have many cheerleaders, and you will have fun!
Future Instructional Designer
I am really enjoying this program! It’s prerfect for someone who is thinking about a career shift to Instructional Design and does not have a lot of experience. This is my first real introduction to Instructional Design and it’s been the perfect beginner course to help me get my feet wet. The modules are broken down well and it’s great to go at your own pace and at your own time. The modules themselves are very comprehensive and you learn a lot from all of them. I really like how each one build upon each other and you’re working towards the bigger project of designing your first training course from scratch. I’m learning so much from going through this course! I was provided great feedback from Katie and Shawntay through the process via Trello Boards, comments on the Google documents, and Facebook group. This course has been well worth the time and effort and I appreciate the fact that I will always have the resources available to me after I complete the training (just in case I’m not quite ready to transition yet).
Future Instructional Designer
I can’t say enough great things about the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program! The length of the program is perfect; it doesn’t feel rushed and there’s just the right amount of structure to give you the accountability you need. There are so many opportunities to get live answers to any questions you have related to the course content or anything ID-related! This program gave me the support and structure I needed to both feel affirmed in the relevant skills I already had coming in and to fill in the gaps I had as a career-changer going into ID. Shawntay, Katie, and all the coaches are super helpful and supportive. I now feel confident that I have the tools and access to resources I need to apply for ID jobs without wondering if there’s something I’m “missing” in the preparation process. I’d highly recommend this program to anyone wanting to transition into ID or who just wants to brush up on their skills in the field.
Krista Johnson Awomoyi
Freelance Instructional Designer
I’d highly recommend the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program. I’m blown away by how much I learned in just 12 weeks. I had ID experience prior to taking this course and was just looking to get a better understanding of applying adult learning principles. This course well exceeded my expectations! Not only did I gain a clear understanding of adult learning principles, I was also able to apply those principles by creating assets for your portfolio using PowerPoint, Adobe Premiere Pro and Storyline. The hands on support that we received was top notch.
This program is one of the most robust yet fulfilling L&D programs I’ve seen. I learned so much about the industry and about the limitlessness of my own capabilities. I am so appreciative of Shawntay and all of the trainers who took part in the program. They went above and beyond with not only guiding, but communicating live and working one on one or in small groups. If you are on the fence, I say take the leap and you will not regret it! There’s so much to learn, not only from the trainers, but also the learners in your group. Everyone comes in with their own skills and can be additional support and guidance for you. Thank you for creating this program!
Instructional Designer Training Facilitator
Shawntay is an amazing individual. She is very knowledgeable in all aspects of ID and eLearning. She is also very compassionate and loves to help and see everyone around her grow and prosper. Shawntay has been a great mentor to me and she has helped me mature as an instructional designer and eLearning developer. She has provided me with opportunities when others have overlooked me. I am very grateful to have met and built a lifelong relationship with Shawntay.
I recently got hired into my first instructional design / training position and Shawntay was one of the first people to congratulate me!
Freelance Instructional Designer
My teacher-to-instructional-designer journey began two years ago when I left my teaching comfort zone and started my first freelance ID job. Now, I’m stepping out of the classroom and taking my freelance work full-time, so I’m thrilled to be joining the Tech Accelerator program. Adding technologies like Articulate 360 and Adobe Premiere Pro to my qualifications will help me take my courses to the next level and attract more clients!
Teacher Transitioning into Instructional Design
I am genuinely grateful for this course. I wanted a real-world perspective and feel like I got it. I’m teaching now, but nearing retirement age but can see myself working as an instructional designer well into my retirement years. My other goal is to take as many courses in statistics as possible in hopes of bringing some mathematical precision to the ROI question. Like you say, getting accurate metrics to measure ROI can be a challenge, but I intend to work on that part. That’s unimportant right now, what is important is the fact that I feel like this course was well worth every penny I spent and I would to it again in a heartbeat. I have too much going on right now, but as soon as I get some time freed up I intend to take your course in project management.
Turns Your Written Thoughts Into a Masterpiece!
Shawntay Skjoldager can turn your written thoughts into a masterpiece. She is great to work with and the most organized person I know!
President and CEO, The Creative Entreprenuer
Shawntay has been incredible!
Shawntay has been incredible and her team is responsive and effective in translating my training programs into professional presentations. Don’t hesitate to contact her for your project.
Beth B. De Lima, MBA, SPHR-CA, SHRM-SCP
President and Principal of HRM Consulting, Inc.
IDC is My Secret Weapon to Soar Above My Competition!
The IDC team has been my secret and special weapon of success. They have delivered above and beyond with every single project out in front of them. They have met and beat timelines. They have been Uber responsive every step of the way. I keep them on speed dial and have and continue to recommend them to friends and clients. If you are in need of instructional design and plenty more, this is THE ALL-STAR team that will more than deliver and help make you and your project soar above the competition.
LT. COL. Jason O. Harris
U.S. Air Force Officer, Special Operations Pilot, U.S.A.F. Academy Instructor, Motivational Speaker
A Tremendous Asset to the Project Team!
Working with Shawntay and the Instructional Design Company has allowed our university to meet the growing demands of our programs. Shawntay’s expertise allowed for the course development to be completed on time and met all of the university requirements. Shawntay’s project management skills were phenomenal and allowed my team to work on other areas while she completed this project for us. Her work is of high quality and her professionalism and willingness to help made her a tremendous asset to the project team.
Academic Quality Assurance Specialist, Abilene Christian University
Creative & Highly Talented!
Shawntay is a creative and highly talented instructional designer. She brought a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and leadership that enabled her to own the design and creation of a full scale facilitator curriculum and train-the-trainer program. It was a pleasure to partner with Shawntay, her project management and communication skills ensured the project was on time and on budget.
Breaks Down Mammoth Projects
“Shawntay is quick study and carefully synthesizes information for presentations that are clear, concise and captivating. Her personality draws the audience in and her content mastery is excellent. A team player and organizer, Shawntay has the ability to break down mammoth projects, keep everybody on time and on task.”
Author, Speaker, Strengths Coach
“I have had many opportunities to work with Shawntay—mainly in the support of implementing new eLearning initiatives. I have been very impressed by her ability to quickly learn how to use rapid eLearning development tools and effectively use them to create multiple courses within a short timeframe. Shawntay’s enthusiastic nature, attention to detail, and dedication to her work make her a pleasure to work with and a great asset to both Texas A&M University-Commerce and the broader training community within the Texas A&M University System.”
Director of Learning Strategy, Caveo Learning
Top Notch Professional
Working with Shawntay has been an immense pleasure. She is atop notch professional who brings enthusiasm and extensiveexpertise to professional curriculum development and execution. Her knowledge of tried and true techniques to maximize the effectiveness of presentations is invaluable.
Nancy Drapeau, PRC
Vice President of Research, CEIR - Center for Exhibition Industry Research
Fortunate to Find Shawntay!
“I was fortunate to find Shawntay when our organization was looking to expand and update our educational offerings. Shawntay proved herself to be an educational and personal development expert who immediately made an impact with our clients throughout Europe. Everyone who came into contact with Shawntay was immediately impressed by her level of expertise and willingness to share her knowledge with those around her. I would not hesitate to recommend Shawntay to anyone looking for an education subject matter expert.”
Director of Qualifications and NSD Services, Mary Kay Inc.
Short Turn Around. On Time. Under Budget!
“We hired Shawntay to develop a training facilitator’s guide and PowerPoint slide deck for an operations manual heavy with technical content. The project was made more challenging by a very short turn around, 5 business days, and the fact that the operations manual wasn’t complete and was being updated simultaneously with the facilitator’s guide and slide deck. Despite these challenges, Shawntay delivered as promised. On time and under budget.”
Dave Beeman, CPP
Vice President, Andy Frain Services
Need an Expert Who Consistently Delivers?
“Working with Shawntay you will immediately notice her professional presence and poise, but over time her tenacious pursuit of excellence and her skills in instructional development and adult learning will really impress you. I worked with her at Mary Kay, and was able to experience firsthand her great rapport with regional partners in Europe, understanding their unique sales force training needs. In addition, Shawntay consistently exhibited grace under pressure, made executive decisions to move business forward. If you are looking for an expert who consistently delivers and goes the extra mile to get things done, contact Shawntay!”
Marketing Director, Academic Partnerships
Quality Products & Solutions!
“I had had the pleasure of knowing and working with Shawntay on more than a few occasions. I found her to be a very good business partner and very committed to delivering a quality product or solution in a timely manner. I have always had a positive experience in partnering with Shawntay and would recommend that you consider leveraging her talent.”
Judy Owen, CPC
Transformational Leadership Coach
“Invest in yourself and take your skills to the next NEXT level!”
Get yourself signed up for Shawntay Skjoldager’s Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program today and be on your way to success! Within the first week of taking her course, you will experience growth! Be sure to plug into her Facebook Q&A sessions for personalized help, too. This is THE course to take if you are new to instructional design or have landed on the training team and need help getting started.
Managing Partner, PHiG
“Her enthusiasm for adult learning is contagious!”
Shawntay has exceptional knowledge and experience with all aspects of creating and implementing effective, performance based training for adults. She is exceptional at needs analysis – identifying target audiences and collaborating with business owners to keep training focused on business needs. And she is great to work with – always providing great support to get projects done on-time and on-target. She is always on the look-out for new and more effective ways to engage learners. Her enthusiasm for adult learning is contagious!
eLearning Developer/Instructional Designer, Vivos Therapeutics
I have known and worked with Shawntay as a education program director and use the expertise of ShawntayMichelle for the development of my presentations. The service has always been “spot on” with professionalism, care and attention. Shawntay’s recommendations to my ideas make me look good to my clients.
Al Lomas CMP, CEM, CMM, CFE
Owner, Certified Consulting Services
“Shawntay Skjoldager reached in and made my training life so much easier!”
I am new to the training design and development world and I was SO excited to get in there, but I really lacked the real-world knowledge that would set me apart from my peers. And, then Shawntay Skjoldager walked into my life with an outstretched hand and a seemingly endless list of ways to knock every training out of the park. From the Training Analysis Form to the Tay Tay tips, this course made my life so much easier and even ironed out the review process that I had been struggling with for months.
Take time to invest in your own learning and make sure to put Shawntay Michelle at the top of your personal development list!
Training Specialist, LegalShield