Cover Letter and Resume Tips from an Expert


For all my instructional design career changers, I know you’re looking for all the resume tips you can get! But, regardless of what field you’re coming from, a resume change is in order! You just can’t expect to be considered for an interview if you haven’t spent time working on your instructional design resume.


I have a lot of valuable resources for those trying to transition into an instructional design career. Don’t worry. I’ll share those with you! My main focus for this episode of The Accelerated ID was to get the best cover letter and resume tips from a resume expert.




Your Instructional Design Resume


A great, customized instructional design resume is one thing you have to invest time and effort into. It’s literally your ticket to an instructional design job! 


As far as resume tips go, here’s my favorite one. You’ve got to tailor your instructional design resume to each job you apply for. That means, if you apply to ten instructional design jobs, you’re writing ten instructional design resumes! 


I know it sounds like a lot, but it’ll all be worth it when you land your dream instructional design job. There’s more specific advice for what to include and how to format your resume in this instructional design resume ebook.


We walk you step-by-step through the resume, application, and interview process in The Instructional Design and Tech Accelerator System and Certificate program. So if you’re looking for even more support than the resume tips we have on deck, check it out!



Resume Tips from a Resume Expert


I’m so excited to bring you these three tips from professional resume writer Marissa Lessman. Marissa has 15 years of experience working with top companies to create successful resumes for job seekers. 


We’re lucky to work with Marissa here at The Instructional Design Company, where she offers one-on-one resume coaching. In addition, students and alumni of The Instructional Design and Tech Accelerator System and Certificate program also benefit from group coaching sessions with Marissa.


Let’s get into the top three resume tips for instructional design career changers!


Resume Tip Number 1: Celebrate Your Point of View

Cover Letter and Resume Tips from an Expert - point of view

This is Marissa’s biggest tip for helping you stand out in a sea of candidates. Recruiters read generic resumes every day. So anything you can do to show your personality and what you can bring to this position will help you get noticed.


That’s why you should embrace your entire journey as a professional. It can all be made relevant, from bagging groceries at 16 to your first job out of college to where you are now. Of course, gaps in employment can also be part of your professional story. Do not shy away from aspects of your work history that you consider ‘unworthy.’ 


Here’s the trick: ask yourself what you can bring to an organization that is of value. Now, how does your professional history celebrate that? At the end of the day, recruiters and hiring managers want to get to know you.


Resume Tip Number 2: Stay Inside ATS Standards

Cover Letter and Resume Tips from an Expert - ATS standards

If you don’t already know about ATS, this tip is for you! ATS stands for Applicant Tracking System. It’s software that most companies use to filter candidates.


Hiring managers tell ATS what skills and requirements to search for. Then, the system scans all the submitted resumes. Based on the scan, recruiters and hiring managers then get a list of candidates who ATS thinks are the best matches.


Here’s where your resume comes in. If your resume isn’t formatted in an ATS-friendly way, it won’t read your skills and experience. That means the potential employer will never even see your resume!


To ensure your resume is ATS friendly:

  • Include buzzwords that are important to the specific job requirements.
  • Avoid using graphics and other design elements. 
  • Use only black or navy font.
  • List information in a single column
  • Don’t insert tables


Resume Tip Number 3: Keep Your Resume Accomplishment-Based

Cover Letter and Resume Tips from an Expert - Your accomplishments

Here’s another way to make an impression on a recruiter or potential employer based on your resume alone. Instead of simply listing skills and education, connect how you add value to the position through those skills. 


Let’s look at an example. A common skill in instructional designers is curriculum design. However, that alone doesn’t provide much information. Instead, try adding a quantitative element to the skill. For example, how many modules of a particular curriculum did you design? For what size audience?


If you have data you can include to show the impact of your skill, even better! “Designed workplace safety curriculum that resulted in 25% fewer safety incidents,” tells a much better story than just “designed curriculum”!


Create the Perfect Cover Letter


If you’re not a fan of the cover letter, you’re not alone! Even professional resume writers agree they can be a headache. Unfortunately for all of us, they are a necessary evil. You should never skip the cover letter attachment when submitting your resume for an instructional design job. 


Use these three cover letter tips to make the writing process easier!


Cover Letter Tip Number 1: Keep it to One Page!

Cover Letter and Resume Tips from an Expert - one-pager

Did you know that most recruiters only look at your cover letter for 8-12 seconds? That’s not a lot of time to make a good impression! Up your chances by limiting your cover to one page. 


Your cover letter should tell the recruiter or hiring manager:

  • Who you are
  • What you want
  • How they can help you


You can explain those three things in 4-5 paragraphs at the most. You might be tempted to bury your accomplishments within your cover letter. Leave that for your resume!


Cover Letter Tip Number 2: Marry the Personal and the Professional

Cover Letter and Resume Tips from an Expert - personal

I mentioned you shouldn’t be using your cover letter to reiterate the accomplishments you already have included in your resume. Instead, our resume expert recommends that you keep your cover letter a little more personal.


Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself in a way that is personal in your cover letter. At the end of the day, you’re a human being! Just like the recruiter reading your resume. 


Ask yourself what you want that potential employer to think about you after reading those four paragraphs. Then, tell that story!


Here’s are some things to consider when you’re writing your cover letter:

  • Do you have any connections with the company you’re applying to? Maybe it’s a company that does work you admire or a university you toured with a child.
  • What values do you share with the company? Look for their mission statement online and see how you connect with it.
  • What excites you about the position? 


These are just a few ideas for marrying the personal and the professional in your cover letter.


Cover Letter Tip Number 3: Consistency is Key

Cover Letter and Resume Tips from an Expert - consistency

Not only will this help your cover letter to be ATS friendly, but consistency can be important for building your brand as well. Using the same fonts, sizing, and formatting helps align all your information. It also presents as more polished and professional.


Follow the same resume tips for ATS tracking when formatting your cover letter. Don’t include graphics or design elements. Keep your text in a single column, and utilize those keywords if you can.


Here’s an excellent way to tell if your formatting is on track: does it look boring? If it does, then you’re on to something! Save your fancy Canva templates for a situation where you can hand your resume directly to the hiring manager. When you submit your cover letter and resume online, keep it simple!


Wrapping it Up


I hope you found these cover letter and resume tips as helpful as I did! Don’t forget, if you’re looking for extra support in crafting your cover letter and/or resume, you can sign up for one-on-one coaching with Marissa.


If you’re getting started with your instructional design cover letter and resume, what questions do you have? Bring them to The Hangout, a community for instructional design lovers like you!

The Testimonials are In:


Shola Richards

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.

Shola Richards


Graphic Designer

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.

Gayle Bower


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.

Laurie Henderson


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!

Wendy McMillian


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!

Gabby Grimaldo


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!

Shanna Howe


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).

Aviva Berkowitz


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.

Darlene Dalgleish


Instructional Designer

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!

Shawnice Edge


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!

Brian Hightower


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!

Sarah Smith


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.

Lee R


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!

Sheryl Rhoades
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.

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.

Amanda Buckley
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.

Susan Gatti
President, IMMIXID


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.”

Rick Miller
Author, Speaker, Strengths Coach


eLearning Development

“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.”

Ashley Christian
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.”

Jonathan Burt
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!”

Mellora Moore
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.

Patrick Hodges
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!

Mike Stubblefield
eLearning Developer/Instructional Designer, Vivos Therapeutics


“Spot on”

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.

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!


Katie Carter
Training Specialist, LegalShield

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