Instructional Design: Self-Guided Path
Created by Sara Stevick, this section provides a place to start for those looking for a self-paced option for learning about Instructional Design.
What Does An Instructional Designer Do?
Do I Need an Additional Degree/Certificate?
How Can I Get There?
At the bottom of this page, you can select the step you are currently on for further guidance.
Setting Up for Success
Step 1: Fill the Knowledge Gaps
While your education and teaching experience has provided you with a lot of transferable skills that will help you to be a successful ID, there are many nuances of ID theory and practice that are important to learn that will help you become the best candidate for the job.
Parts 1 and 2 of this step can be completed simultaneously! I'd recommend dedicating anywhere from 2-4 weeks (depending on how much time you have to devote to this endeavor) completing the "Critical Learning" and making a few mini projects with the "Critical Tools"
Once the "Critical Learning" is complete, and you have a few mini projects in your toolbox, you can begin step 2, and continue learning the additional topics and tools simultaneously to the rest of the steps.
PART 1: Crucial Learning
While there is a lot of crossover between teaching and ID, ID uses different terminology for many concepts, and there are some components within these lessons that are unique to the ID role. There are multiple ways you can go about this:
Pay and attend an ID program (Check out the ID Certifications options in the resource tab for more)
Do LinkedIn Learning (you can get the first month free and you get certificates for each course you complete)
Self-learn through YouTube, websites, and other publications
PART 2: Learn the tools of the trade
Learn one of two most common authoring programs: Articulate Storyline 360 or Adobe Captivate
Create a folder of helpful ID tools (this website is AWESOME to get you started)
Step 2: Tailoring Your Application Documents
Because this is a new career path, you will need to update your application documents so they reflect the voice of an ID and not an educator. This does not mean that you will change the actual “meat” of your documents, but rather you will emphasize different skill sets and translate educator terms to ID terms.
The order in which you complete these sections doesn’t really matter, but I would recommend completing all of them before moving into the next step. I will emphasize that you are unlikely to secure a position without a portfolio-so be sure to spend time on one!
Also, LinkedIn is HUGE in the corporate world, especially in Learning and Development. Not having a LinkedIn, or being inactive on LinkedIn, would result in missing out on A LOT of opportunities...so be sure to spend time there as well!
Beginning the Search
Step 3: Applying for Jobs
Part 1: When applying for jobs, you want to make sure you’re going for quality over quantity. This profession can be a LOT of fun if you’re in the right job, but it can also be very stressful and overwhelming if you are not. ID job searching is different from teaching in that what you will be expected to have as part of your job responsibilities varies greatly, so be sure you are targeting job that focus on the items you want to do, and not what you don’t want to do. For example: If you prefer creating eLearning vs creating/facilitating instructor-led trainings, look for a position where creating eLearning is towards the top of the job description, and avoid positions that focus on developing and facilitating instructor-led trainings. *REMEMBER* You are looking to change careers for a reason, so don’t settle for less than what will make you happy!
Part 2: Even though you should have already tailored your resume, tweaking it here and there to incorporate specific phrases from the job description shows you are interested in THAT position, and makes you more appealing as a candidate. It also helps when your application is run through the ATS system, and increases the likelihood of an actual person seeing your application.
Part 3: Spend time researching how to optimize your resume for the ATS system, as well as how to word your application documents to appeal to your audience. Also, really dig into LinkedIn-Find recruiters from that company you are applying for and reach out! Making a human connection drastically increases your chances for an interview.
Landing the Job
Step 4: Interview Prep and Execution
Securing an interview is definitely half the battle-Out of the 30+ Jobs I applied for, I secured 4 interviews. But the other half is acing the interview. *REMEMBER* This is not education - do not become discouraged by a lot of rejection! If you were not selected for an interview or for a position, this does NOT mean you are not an instructional designer, it just means you were not a fit for that particular position. Also keep in mind that you may interview for positions that do not feel like a good fit for you - LISTEN TO THAT GUT INSTINCT! Set yourself up for success by accepting a position with a company that fits you and you fit them... that way each party is treated with value.
PART 1: You should research the company you have an interview with, as well as research common questions asked during ID interviews. You’ll then want to type up your answers and (as silly as it feels) practice it out loud...multiple times. Interviews can be nerve wracking, so the more your verbally practice, the more automatic it will become, so even if you get a little nervous, your mind is already executing what you need to say.
PART 2: You may have multiple interviews/job offers going on simultaneously, and this is a delicate thing to navigate, because you can leverage this to your advantage in negotiating salary, but you also can accidentally lose opportunities. Highly recommend googling “Navigating multiple interviews” and “navigating multiple job offers”