ID Transition Step 4: Apply for Instructional Design Jobs
Well, you made it to the final step and are ready to apply for instructional design jobs! In this final phase, we’ll walk through how to apply for instructional design jobs that you qualify for. It’s not as simple as filling out as many online applications as you can!
If you want your resume to stand out and land you an interview, you’ve got some work to do. But we’ll provide you with some helpful tips and resources so you can be successful.
Need to catch up on steps one, two and three? No problem! We have them all organized in this YouTube playlist!
Set Yourself Up for Success
When it comes to finding a job in instructional design, it’s crucial to assess your skills and qualifications against the job description for the type of instructional design job you’re after. Remember, I encouraged you to narrow your focus in the very first step of this transition plan. While this may seem obvious, it’s easy to overlook, especially if you’re transitioning from another field.
Even if you had a senior or director-level position in your previous job, in instructional design, you may need to start at an entry-level position. So, it’s important to set realistic expectations and apply for jobs that match your skill level.
With that said, don’t let one missing skill deter you. You don’t need to have 100% of the skills listed, just the majority of them. By assessing your qualifications and applying for the right level of job, you can increase your chances of finding a position that is a good fit for you.
Get Noticed for an Instructional Design Job
Once you’ve identified an instructional design job that you’re qualified for, you’ve got to stack your career toolkit. This way, you’re more likely to get past the dreaded Applicant Tracking System and land in front of a prospective employer.
Let’s start by talking about the main components of your career toolkit, your resume, portfolio, and LinkedIn.
I mentioned the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) earlier. This is the automated way that most companies use to sift through the many resumes submitted for a job. The company plugs in the job name and requirements and ATS uses that information to scan all the resumes and assign each applicant a score.
So, let’s say Katie tailored her resume to this specific job posting, so she used the same language to describe her skills that she saw in the requirements. She might get a ranking of 90%. That potential employer can say, “I only want to see candidates that scored 80% or higher when compared to the job description.” So luckily, Katie’s resume will appear on the shortlist.
ATS isn’t good at recognizing synonyms, it’s just a program, so you need to make sure your resume uses similar language for listing keywords and skills as the job description. Here’s an example. A job description lists experience with Canvas as a requirement. Your resume bullet points include your LMS experience. Guess what? If the company only included the keyword ‘Canvas’, ATS won’t recognize that your LMS experience is relevant. You would want to change your resume to include the specific word from the job posting.
Another ATS tip for you: you’re much better off with a plain jane resume. I’m talking bullet points! You can find some really fun resume templates on Canva and Etsy, but many of those templates are not readable by ATS. So, even if you spend hours tailoring your resume to this position, you could score a 0 and never be seen by a real person!
If you’re interested in a deeper dive into resume tips, check out this article!
A resume alone isn’t enough to land most instructional design jobs. In addition to a resume, instructional designers use a portfolio to show off the skills they list on their resume. A great portfolio should give your potential employer confidence that you are the right fit for the open position.
Portfolios should be sharp and professional looking. Choose a good design with an easy-to-view color scheme.
Ensure any images you use on the landing page are high quality, and all text is error-free. Realistically, potential employers aren’t going to spend a lot of time looking at your work, so want their first impression to be great. Send your finished portfolio to a trusted friend or mentor to spot any spelling mistakes or broken links before you send it off or add it to your LinkedIn profile.
Past the landing page, what should you include in your portfolio? Include your most polished projects that demonstrate the skills required for the job. For example, if the job lists storyboarding as a requirement, make sure your portfolio has a completed storyboard. If the job requires Articulate Rise, have a Rise course linked.
Other Necessities for Landing an Instructional Design Job
When you’re on the hunt for an instructional design job, or any job for that matter, the candidate pool can be competitive. That’s why you want to make sure you cover all your bases and prepare to stand out using all the tools at your disposal.
Here are some other things you can work on that will serve you well as you look for your dream job.
Optimize your LinkedIn Presence
LinkedIn can be an incredibly powerful tool to help you connect with potential employers and get your name out there. For job seekers, LinkedIn is often how you find job postings in the first place. You can also use it as a tool to connect with the recruiters who are hiring for a position you applied for.
In that case, just having a profile isn’t enough. You need to make sure it’s optimized to attract attention from those recruiters or hiring managers.
First, make sure you have a professional-looking profile picture. You can achieve this easily by setting your phone up in front of a blank wall and editing the background in Canva. Or, pay to have your headshots taken professionally, its a great investment that you can use for years!
Next, complete your full profile. Include the phrase “instructional designer” or “elearning developer” in your heading (depending on the kind of role you’re interested in). Be sure to use up all the characters available in your summary. Where your resume is bullet-pointed and formal, your LinkedIn profile can be more conversational and use full sentences. Use this to your advantage and use the full character limit in each section. Show off your personality and what makes you unique.
Finally, those same keywords you’re adding to your resume can live in the skills section of your LinkedIn profile, so make sure they match before you reach out to recruiters!
Top 4 Tips for Interviewing
The last piece of your career toolkit I’ll share to help you as you apply for instructional design jobs is your interview skills.
1. Review the job posting.
Chances are, you’re not applying for just one job at a time, that’s fine! But landing an interview is a huge accomplishment, don’t blow it by mixing up positions or companies. Be sure to save the job posting when you first apply (sometimes they pull it offline when they have all the candidates they want to interview). Then re-read it thoroughly before the interview.
2. Compile work samples.
As you read through the bullet points on the job posting, find a work sample or jot down a work experience you have that relates to as many of the job requirements as you can. This will give you some great talking points. Also, it’s really common for interviewers to say “tell us about a project where you…” insert common instructional design skills here. And it’s also really normal for your mind to go completely blank and not be able to think of a single project you’ve ever done! It’s okay to be nervous, but if you prepare this ahead of time you’ll have those projects fresh in your memory.
3. Practice answering common interview questions.
Take some time to prepare how you would answer common questions with a friend or family member. We have a whole list of common questions in this article that you can use as a starting point!
4. Prepare questions to ask the interviewer.
This is just as important as answering the interviewer’s questions. Don’t forget, the interview is a chance for you to see if the company is a good fit for you too. So you don’t blank in the moment, write down some questions you have to ask the interviewer ahead of time. Check out this list of 15 questions to ask your interviewer to get your creative juices flowing!
Wrapping it Up
That concludes our four-step instructional design transition plan! We went from identifying your dream job to determining what skills you need to be a good fit. Then, you got to work upskilling so you could confidently apply to instructional design jobs.
The journey doesn’t end there! Join us in The Hangout Facebook Group for Aspiring Instructional Designers to talk about where you’re at in your instructional design transition and get support from fellow instructional design lovers!
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