6 Steps To Find Your Instructional Design Dream Job

Job searching can be pretty daunting. This is particularly true if you are trying to carve out your own place in the field of Instructional Design. Follow these 6 steps to identify and secure your Instructional Design dream job.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Building An Instructional Design Portfolio: Layout, What To Include And 3 Useful Tips

An Instructional Design portfolio provides a snapshot of your eLearning experience, talents, and work history. Despite the fact that it's a must-have tool for Instructional Designers, knowing what to include and how to format can be quite challenging. In this article, I'll cover all of the Instructional Design portfolio basics that you need to know.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

7 Reasons You Need An Instructional Design Portfolio

Why You Need An Instructional Design Portfolio  

As an Instructional Designer, there is simply no excuse for not having an Instructional Design portfolio, especially in this day and age, where online portfolios, or portfolio websites, are becoming more and more popular. An Instructional Design portfolio sums up your work, output, skills, and expertise. It demonstrates your whole creative process; how you work, how you generate ideas, and how you create highly quality eLearning courses. If you are still not convinced why you absolutely need to have an Instructional Design portfolio, sit comfortably and read the following 7 important reasons:

  1. It offers you the opportunity to stand out.
    Your Instructional Design portfolio will allow you to demonstrate your personal style and all of your talent’s potentiality without the usual compromises you usually need to make for your clients’ sake. To stand out from the crowd, make sure that its web design is clean and absolutely beautiful. It is actually a great way to show off without being annoying or wasting anybody’s time in a job interview. Make sure that you put your best work first; don’t even include your not so good projects. Select your words describing yourself carefully and help your viewers navigate easily through your work using a simple yet interesting navigation system. Pay attention to details and provide your visitors to your website an experience which they will not soon forget.
  2. Your clients and potential employers are able to see your work anywhere, anytime.
    Anyone with an internet connection and a computer, a smartphone, or a tablet will be able to see your work; isn’t that great? An online Instructional Design portfolio is an excellent way for you to demonstrate not only what you are capable of doing, but also your project management skills, your soft skills, and experience. To make sure that you make it easy for anyone interested to access your Instructional Design portfolio, design a responsive website, so that it shows everything correctly on smartphones and tablets, and optimize its SEO, so that it will be easy for the search engines to find it. Moreover, follow a simple and clean graphic design approach and ensure that the short text accompanying your visuals is powerful.
  3. Your chances of getting hired are highly increased.
    Employers often look up online before they decide whom to call for a job interview and clients want to know beforehand information such as prices and conditions of Instructional Design services. An online Instructional Design portfolio will allow you to share such information along with the best samples of your work, which automatically facilitates the recruitment process and makes a great impression. Because you will be asked to provide samples of your work anyhow when you meet with a potential employer of client, having a powerful, attention-grabbing, and professional-looking Instructional Design portfolio online might get you hired more quickly than you thought.
  4. It shows all the experience you have. 
    An online Instructional Design portfolio suggests that you care enough to present your work, you are organized, and you don’t just sit there waiting for things to happen. Your clients or potential employers will be able to go through a detailed documentation of your work and pay attention to your progress throughout your years of experience. Make sure that the content of your Instructional Design portfolio is versatile and shows a little bit of everything you are able to do. Also, even if you don’t have many projects to show, start with the project you are most proud of, in order to grab your viewers’ attention, and finish with an equally strong piece which will leave your visitors wanting more.
  5. It saves both you and your clients time.
    As an Instructional Designer you know that in the eLearning industry everyone’s time is valuable, professionals’ and learners’ alike. This is why your potential employers and clients will deeply appreciate a chance to see what you are able of doing on their own, instead of hearing you talking about it during an endless interview. In other words, an online Instructional Design portfolio will allow your viewers to see for themselves what you can do, because it will speak louder than words, in no time, going straight to the point.
  6. It can be very personal and engaging.
    Your Instructional Design portfolio shares a part of yourself. And as potential employers are always interested in not only their employees’ or freelancers’ work but also about their personalities, you can take advantage of your Instructional Design portfolio and share a little bit of you. Needless to say, you should never forget that this is a professional website; but a very short entertaining story about each of your projects can make a real difference. Was there a big challenge you faced during a specific assignment? Was there any funny moment while a deadline approached? Are you particularly proud of a very small project and why? What about the beginning of your career? What is the most important thing you have learnt so far? Writing in a personal manner, adding some testimonials to provide credibility, and maybe sharing a few pictures, will not only engage the viewers of your portfolio helping them put a face to the person behind it, but also, and this is crucial, reassure them that you are real and you haven’t found your samples at Google. Yes, it happens and, yes, it is as ugly as it sounds.
  7. It allows you to make improvements as often as you want.
    Finally, the best part of having an online Instructional Design portfolio is that you can add projects to it as soon as you finish them. Or improve its web design from time to time. Or correct information that may be distracting. Your Instructional Design portfolio can grow and improve along with your work, skills, and experience, as it is a breathing record of your career. You can do everything you want with it and make sure that you are absolutely ready when the right opportunity comes along.

Now that you know why you need an Instructional Design portfolio, you may be interested in learning how to build a killer one. Read the article 5 Tips To Build An Instructional Design Portfolio and discover 5 key tips that will help you build an online Instructional Design portfolio that effectively showcases your expertise and talents.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Interview Sample Requests: How To Make It Work For You

Interview Sample Requests: How To Make It Work For You

Let’s face it! In today’s economy landing that perfect job can be challenging regardless of how “valuable” you believe your skill-sets are in comparison to the competition. As E-Learning professionals it’s almost imperative to have an online portfolio or CV that highlights your skills and experience with relevant visual samples of your e-learning projects. A resume with bullet points just doesn’t seem to cut it these days. Get started by researching a.k.a goggling ‘E-Learning Portfolios’ to gather general ideas. Then, start thinking about which e-learning design samples, that you have created, best demonstrate your skill sets at different levels. Some ideas include: a converted PowerPoint, a custom course sample, a few pages of an instructor manual, course development outline, static course, video course– you get the picture. And if you prefer not to load interactive working samples consider displaying before and after screenshots.

Now, before you buy that domain name and purchase website hosting, its best to request in writing permission(s) from employers and/or clients to display samples of e-learning projects that you've created for them on your website, first.  Some employers will agree and ask that you include their company’s name or brand beside it, some may flat out say no. For those on the fence you may be able to persuade them by stating that you’ll display a modified version of e-learning projects that omits confidential or specific information from the sample.  And if all else fails, remember you’re the developer, recreate a generic e-learning project sample that requires only your approval to post (get it, got it, great). Alright, so now you’re ready. You have an online portfolio that highlights’ the best of each type of e-learning projects that you’ve created and successfully received permission(s) from employers and/or clients. Checking it several times over, second guessing yourself, dedicating time away from your family and social life to create "THE"most awesome portfolio that has ever graced the internet. Screaming “it’s ALIVE”! And off to the interview you go!

The interview is going great, you’re impressing them with your background, wooing them with your character, and now you hit them with the “wow” factor - your online portfolio! The interviewer smiles, the crowd in your mind cheers (thoughts of Ralphie’s teacher in ‘A Christmas Story’ writing A+ across the board), they are getting ready to respond and you know it’s going to be good. Then, they hit you with, “oh nice looking portfolio…but” and proceed to tell you that in order to get a full understanding of how your skill-sets best align with their scope of work they’d like for you review and revise a current e-Learning development/design project of theirs and provide a custom design document to address specific needs, etc…  You are stunned – mind blown, and with this still blank smile on your face. You mindlessly shake your head in agreement with the task of creating customized “usable” samples for free.

This scenario may seem to be a bit of an exaggeration, but believe it or not, I know colleagues that have similar experiences. So, I ask the question when it comes to interviewing and the request to develop custom e-learning samples of a company’s actual work product, “How far should it go”? One colleague in specific has received requests like this in several interviews and told that their samples where spot on yet was never hired by any of the companies that requested custom interview samples. As a matter of fact, over half of the companies sent emails back to some of my colleagues either stating that the position was canceled or that a decision was made to hire from within.

Wow! So of course e-learning professionals are people too and so I asked, be honest, "how did that make you feel?"In the spirit of full disclosure I will not post the names of colleagues nor the companies, but I will state that thoughts and feelings were similar. Some felt that their online portfolios were more than sufficient to demonstrate the skills requested via custom interview samples, others felt it was time consuming, others felt that requests for interview samples is ok - but felt that it went a bit over-the-line to request custom interview samples using the company’s actual developments for works in progress. While the majority felt a bit duped into providing free work.

On the flip, one perspective became evident that almost all of them labeled companies that always used the method of requesting custom interview samples of their actual projects and later canceling the position as "those companies"; not a good reputation to have for any company of any size. In the era of social media I believe this could begin to work against companies as the word begins to spread by mouth (if not online) qualified candidates may opt out of submitting their resumes – even in our current job economy. So, it may be best if all parties exercise caution (just a personal thought).

Nevertheless, whatever your take on this may be, you may be asked at some point (if not already) to submit interview samples for a generic topic or via a company’s actual development project. Here are some simple and completely rational ways to make it work for you:

  • Ask if the custom request be generic in nature (to offset seeing or using actual company information prior to hire)
  • Accept the custom request and share up-front that you will be omitting branding and/or any identifiable information from the sample
  • State that sample works will be posted to your online portfolio to demonstrate your skills for others to view

I’m sure there are many other ways to make it a positive experience and ultimately make it work out for you, so please share thoughts of what you’ve done!


This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

5 Tips To Build An Instructional Design Portfolio

How To Build An Instructional Design Portfolio

There's no rule that says you should have a carefully crafted Instructional Design portfolio on-hand when trying to find eLearning jobs. However, as the saying goes, “you only get one chance to make a first impression”, and properly showing off your talents, skills, and experience with an online portfolio gives you the opportunity to prove that you have what it takes to create winning eLearning courses. Here are a few key Instructional Design portfolio tips that you may want to keep in mind.

  1. Focus on specific professional skills.
    While all of your skills are important, given that they have been accumulated through years of experience, there are only a handful that you'll want to focus on when choosing work samples for your online portfolio. Include work examples that highlight a wide range of eLearning course designs and layouts. This will give you the opportunity to show clients or employers that you can adapt to different learning approaches and integrate a variety of learning activities and graphic design elements to immerse and engage your audiences. In addition, employers will want to see strong writing skills when they're perusing your online portfolio. Grammar, punctuation, and carefully crafted content are essential. As such, you'll want to choose work samples that show off top notch content and highlights the subject matter effectively. While the content of an eLearning course may be a key concern, the visual design is just as important. When clients and potential employers are examining your online portfolio, they'll want to see that you have a keen eye for aesthetic appeal, and that you are using relevant, relatable, and engaging images and graphics in your eLearning courses.
  2. Pair each eLearning project with a description.
    Every eLearning project that you include in your instructional design portfolio should include an explanation of the resources you used (the budget, tools available, etc), how long it took you to complete it, the goals/objectives that you successfully achieved and how you achieved them. Also, let them know why you've included this work sample, and the eLearning design and development strategy you followed  while working on the project. Also, keep in mind that employers and clients, ultimately, want to see that you are a leader. You don't necessarily have to have a wealth of past eLearning project management experience, but you should be able to convey that you know how to work well in a team setting, complete projects on time, and effectively work with the resources you've been given.
  3. Diversity is key!
    If all of the samples you've chosen are in the same niche and have the same approach, then you'll want to consider mixing things up a bit. Include case studies or samples that offer a different angle of your skills, talents, and experience, even if it's just a brief eLearning module. Showing them that you can work with a diverse range of subject matters and technologies is significant. Mentioning that you are familiar with eLearning authoring tools and emerging Learning Management Systems is one thing, but showing that you can actually put those to good use when creating an eLearning deliverable is another.  So, you need to include work samples that showcase your tech skills and prove your knowledge in practice.
  4. Add a personal touch.
    While your instructional design portfolio should always be professional and polished, you'll also want to include personal touches throughout. Including a bio in your online portfolio, will allow employers or clients to get a better idea of your character, personality, and past experiences that might be assets when working on the eLearning project. For example, if you haven't dealt with a specific subject matter before, but you are familiar with similar topics via hobbies or personal interests, then this might be enough to put you a cut above the competition. Given them a glimpse of who you are, as a person, as they will be more willing to hire you if they know that you'll be a personable and friendly addition to their team.
  5. Keep the design simple.
    It may be tempting to include an abundance of graphics, elegant fonts, and other visual design elements into your online portfolio, but it's best to keep things simple and to the point. Ideally, your case studies, work samples, and professional qualifications should be the star of the show, and the visual design shouldn't steal the spotlight away from what truly matters. This doesn't imply that the design of your online portfolio doesn't matter, as you will want to ensure that it's organized, easy to navigate, and accurately reflects your image. Avoid over-the-top graphics and try to create an online space that is welcoming, professional, and polished. Also, in terms of the size of your online portfolio, keep it as minimal as possible. A few work samples, a short bio, and a contact page are sufficient.

Use these instructional design portfolio tips to offer clients and employers a glimpse of what you can bring to the table. While your online portfolio may be a work in progress, if you build a solid foundation now, you can save yourself a significant amount of time and effort when it's time to add new experiences and projects to your list of successes.

Also, in the article 6 Tips To Create An Instructional Design Cover Letter you'll find a variety of tips and tricks on how to create a winning Instructional Design Cover Letter that will put you a cut above the competition.

In addition, getting into instructional design is a very desirable career choice at present, and so many people want to get into it but are often not sure where to start. I highly encourage you to read the articles How To Get A Job As An Instructional Designer and the Top 10 Instructional Designer Skills.

Last but not least, creating a polished instructional design portfolio is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to building your online presence. The article 5 Tips On How eLearning Professionals Can Create an Effective Online Presence offers tips on how you can develop an effective online presence that helps you to keep your online reputation in good standing.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.