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Instructional Design / November 17, 2020
Are you hoping to land your dream instructional design job in 2021? You won’t get far without writing an instructional design resume! A great resume gets your foot in the door and gives you a chance to wow potential employers in-person with an interview.
If you’re new to instructional design, you’ll need some help writing an instructional design resume that stands out to recruiters. It also doesn’t hurt to understand the process recruiters use to find candidates.
I’ve pulled all my best advice for writing an instructional design resume into this post to help you land that instructional design interview.
Tips for Writing an Instructional Design Resume That Will Get You Noticed
Did you know the average recruiter only looks at a resume for about 6 seconds? It’s true! You have less time to get noticed than it takes to say, “grande vanilla latte, please.” So how do you make sure your resume has what it takes to make it into the “interview” pile? Try these eight tips for writing an instructional design resume that will get you noticed.
1. Find a Job You’re Interested in
Your resume starts with a job that sounds like a good fit for you. That may seem backward, but resume writing is not a one size fits all T-shirt. So the first step is to find a job that you are interested in.
You can do this by searching on any job-search site (LinkedIn and Monster are popular choices). Once you find the job you are interested in, you will tailor your resume specifically for that job. If you see three jobs you like, you will write three resumes and three cover letters.
If you are a new or aspiring instructional designer, I highly recommend you check out my free Transition to Instructional Design Resume eBook. I break down how to build a custom instructional designer resume using real examples to demonstrate how to reframe your current experiences. I also provide a real resume example so you can get inspiration for your resume. Click here to get your copy.
2. Identify Job Keywords
Read through the job posting that you are interested in a few times. First, to understand the qualifications of the position. Next, compile a list of keywords for you to use in your resume. Keywords are essential in writing an instructional design resume, or any resume for that matter because many companies use keyword recognition software to scan through submissions automatically.
That means that if your resume is missing an important keyword, you’re out of the running before a real person even sees it. Even if a real person reviews resumes for all applicants, that person is most likely not an instructional designer. Recruiters and other HR professionals won’t connect the dots – so if they don’t see a specific word or phrase, you won’t move forward.
Look for repeated words and action verbs in the posting. Another way to make sure you’ve identified all the keywords is to scan other instructional design postings. Are there buzzwords or specific skills that keep popping up from one company to the next? These are probably strong keywords that you should include in your resume!
3. Inventory You Skillset
What do you bring to the table? Make an inventory of all your applicable skills. Everything from customer service to technical knowledge is important. Even if you think you’ll never include a skill on the resume you submit, having a running list is a great exercise. Plus, you never know when a niche skill will come in handy!
Compare your list to those keywords you identified earlier. Does your skillset include all or most of those keywords? Edit your list of skills to remove anything irrelevant to the specific position. What you include should cover the key qualifications or really shout that you have it all plus some!
If any gaps exist between your skillset and the keywords you identified from the posting, ask yourself a few critical questions. Is this a skill you don’t have at all, or is it a skill you just hadn’t thought of or were using in a different way or maybe you call it something different?
Honesty is important, so obviously, you shouldn’t slip in a keyword if it’s not in your skillset. Instead, keep those skills in mind as opportunities for future growth. And, be prepared to explain how you will quickly develop those skills or what you are already doing to develop those skills.
4. Write a Keyword and “Screener-Friendly” Qualifications Summary
Your qualifications summary is a short blurb that outlines why you’re the right person for a position. It’s one of the first things someone sees when they open your resume.
Leverage your existing skills, but make them instructional design-friendly! Your experience in a non-instructional design field is still very much relevant. You’ll just need to align that experience with what’s useful in instructional design. I have some great examples in my ebook to help you rephrase qualifications to put them into the instructional design language.
For example, project management skills used in other areas apply to the project management of courses. You can leverage that experience and knowledge.
You can still write an attention-getting qualifications summary without paid work experience. What school or coursework have you completed that’s prepared you for the job? What interpersonal skills have you picked up that will help you work in a collaborative environment? What projects have you done for free that allowed you to work through a process you can relate to a typical instructional design model? Your answers to those questions all represent relevant qualifications!
To make your summary screener-friendly, use brief, incomplete sentences with action words. Don’t forget to sprinkle those keywords into the qualifications summary!
5. Add Some Appeal
Anything you can add to your resume that helps it stand out is a bonus. The content of your resume is the most important focus, sure. But remember, your resume only has 6 seconds to capture the reviewer’s attention. One way to do this is by changing up the visual design of your resume.
It’s important to note that you shouldn’t do anything that will compromise your resume’s scannability. Don’t add tables to your resume. The software companies use to scan applicants’ resumes won’t pick up information in a table. If you use an image in your resume, it should not include important keywords for the same reason.
Here are a few things you CAN do to make your resume visually appealing:
- Add a splash of color to the backgrounds of your header or section titles.
- Choose a different font. Stick to something professional. Sans serif fonts have high readability but are a nice change from the standard fonts like Arial and Times New Roman. Helvetica, Georgia, and Muna are all professional fonts recommended by recruiters.
- Create a logo and use it in your header. You can download logo templates for a reasonable price from Creative Market.
- Use standard margins and line spacing. A one-inch margin is standard, but you can go down to ½ an inch if needed. Use a 1.15 line spacing for the body of your resume.
6. Write a Cover Letter
Simply including a cover letter with your resume can increase your chances of getting an interview. Even if the employer or recruiter doesn’t even read the cover letter, the fact that you took the time to write one can work in your favor.
Start your cover letter by stating why you’re interested in the job. What do you find exciting about it, and why are you the perfect candidate?
Now you need to research the company that’s receiving your resume. And I mean going more in-depth than the ‘About Us’ section on their website! Really get a feel for what this company is about. What are their values? Do they partner with any charitable organizations? What’s their social media presence like?
Your cover letter should show you’ve done your homework. Relate your work ethic to the company’s values. Mention any connections you have to their outreach efforts. Convince them that you’ll fit in perfectly in their company’s culture.
7. Proofread, Proofread, Proofread
Writing an instructional design resume is time-consuming, and I know you’ll get tempted just to click ‘send’ and hope for the best. But please do not skip this step! You may feel like you’ve read your completed resume so many times you’ve got it memorized, but your resume can always benefit from a second set of eyes.
Send your resume and cover letter to someone you trust and ask them to proofread it for you. I also practice the 24-hour rule. Before sending off professional documents, step away from the work (in this case, your resume) for a day. Come back to it with fresh eyes and make another round of edits before sending it in.
Once you’ve sent off a resume, the waiting begins. This is the hard part, and I’m here to tell you to relax! Don’t waste time refreshing your inbox every hour or stalking the job board to see if the posting disappears.
The best thing you can do while you’re waiting for that interview is to stay productive. Keep searching job sites for positions that interest you. Keep working on those skills that you still need to develop. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Keep putting yourself out there.
Another great way to pass this time is to brush up on your interviewing skills. This article has everything you need to know about interviewing for an instructional design job.
Still Need Help Writing Your Instructional Design Resume?
Don’t forget to download my ebook for a step-by-step guide to writing your best instructional design resume.
Do you need a little extra help writing your instructional design resume? Have you been sending out resumes for a while without interview invites? You might benefit from a one-on-one coaching session. Our resume expert will help you transform your resume, cover letter, or LinkedIn profile!
Just starting your instructional design journey? Learn more about my immersive, 12-week Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program.
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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
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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
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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.”
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Dave Beeman, CPP
Vice President, Andy Frain Services
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“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
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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
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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, LegalShieldCourses