Getting a job instructional design

Sep 05, 2017

I have been a IT trainer/lecutrer/assessor for several years and want to move into instructional design. I have taught myself to use rapid e-learning tools such as articulate and Adobe captivate. I have also taken a TAP course in e-learning design to learn how to story board. I have created some e-learning modules.  I have applied for instructional design jobs and failed the telephone interviews. What do I need to do to get an elusive job instructional design? 

12 Replies
Daniel Brigham

Hi, Levinna: A few thoughts:

1. Check or even the jobs section of this forum for contract instructional design jobs to build your experience and portfolio. True, most of those gigs don't pay handsomely, but you'll get experience.

2. Share the work you are proud of. Maybe start a blog, or share links to your work via Twitter and Linkedin.

3. Help people on this forum where and as much as you can.

4. Build elearning projects "just for the fun of it." Your significant other may not understand, but the best work I've done at my established gigs has been the result of my "just for fun" projects. 

Hope that gives you at least one idea. --Daniel

michelle eames

So the good news is you are getting through to interview stage. That's hard enough!

Have you asked for feedback on why you haven't been successful? 

I am very much a "doer" and its just part and parcel of what you do that you can forget to sell yourself.  You have a similar background to me and I have completed the excellent TAP courses.  So you may need to draw on your tutor experience and apply it to the questions asked - no matter how insignificant you think it is.

Its worth looking "interview questions for elearning designers" and preparing some stock answers so you can draw on them and give you time to think of really good answers with something to back it up.

Good luck!!

Dave Goodman

Create as many demos (5-10 screens) as you can that demonstrate your design, instructional and Articulate skills (triggers, layers, and variables when possible). Then use Rise by putting screen shots of your work and create a shared link of the Rise output. Send this link to all the people you know and to the interviewers prior to any telephone calls. Use your telephone time to demonstrate your skills rather than only responding to other people's questions.

Nancy Woinoski

In addition to having a strong portfolio, make sure you can explain your design approach so that interviewers a) understand your contribution to the work you are showing and b) get an idea for how you think as a designer.

I am not sure who you were interviewing with but it couldn't hurt to learn some of the instructional design buzz words so that if you are asked some of the mumbo jumbo design methodology questions you will know what the interviewer is talking about and be able to answer with some intelligence. 

I also agree with Bruce and Michelle about asking for feedback when you don't get the job. It will help you focus on the things you need to change and can even boost your confidence at times because it puts you in control.


Daniel Brigham

Great point, Nancy, about buzz words. Middle managers love them, though
they often don't understand them fully. Ok, these aren't buzz words really,
but cool words to throw out:

- Needs analysis
- Performance support
- Key performance indicators, metrics
- Being data driven
- Post-training support plan
- Kirkpatrick levels (1-4)
- Blended learning
- Digital learning (or digitizing learning)
- Michael Allan's SAM methodology

Bruce Graham

Right...after a bit of thought I'm going to ask a question that some of the "old-timers" here will not be surprised at me asking.

"What benefit can you actually bring to any business that hires you?"

In my opinion, (laughed at by many, but appreciate by the IDs that, like me, have worked solidly for years now...), you need to be able to stand in front of a company Board, and explain, in words that mean something to THEM, why they should reduce their profits by giving some of their company $s/£s or Euros to you? have done the course(s), and you have the what? Here's what may be an eye-opener for you, (and it's caused me MANY debates/disagreements with HR departments and hirers, until they actually try and question it, and it ALWAYS holds. There's only 3 reasons to train, ever. Increase profits, reduce potential losses, and reduce personal/business risk. I would suspect that no course has ever mentioned that.

That's how you win business. You have to talk about those subjects to the business. That's all they are really interested in.

Above is the vision I sell, every job. It's all they want from you - for you to take away their training worries so they can sleep soundly at night. Sod Gagnes or "Peterson's 8 Points of Interesting Learning", (OK, I made that one up because frankly, I never talk about such stuff...but they ALL want this, linked to the 3 points above.

There's also 7 words I always use when I have found out about what they want, and as long as you can expand on it, in some way that meets all of the above, it wins business, 95% of the time in my experience. What are they....?

"Well, you COULD do it that way."

You have just jumped from being a "supplier" to (potentially) adding value, and they will be your client for life. I can do this for hours :)  , but I won't. You have now got the products under your belt, but you needs SAL ES skills now - the same ones for being an ID, or selling teddy bears, or cakes. Go and get some "Solution Selling" , because you are now a sales person, and THEN an ID. Be a good sales person, and you will get the jobs.

If you do not believe this stuff, ask yourself this..have I made you question your reality in a convincing way, and made suggestions that your are going to follow? I hope so. If I did, it's because I sold to you, using the techniques I'm talking about, (adding value, FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) and so on. could just keep on doing it without considering sales people and techniques.

Good luck, oh, and I use this one a lot too, (see "Disruptive Selling", taught to me by a serial-entrepreneur and serial-millionaire).


Bob S

Thanks, Bruce.... Reading down the thread and was just about to bring this back to the business need piece.  In my humble opinion, it seems we IDs can sometimes get so passionate about our craft, our learners, etc that we forget who really is hiring us and why.  

A helpful mantra - "We exist to fulfill a business need, or we don't exist at all".

We are most valuable when we can clearly connect the needs of the business with learning solutions we have to offer. This is why it's important to always be thinking with two minds; learner-centric and business-centric.

Bruce Graham

I agree completely, but I think the mistake that jobbing IDs often make goes further than that. They think that just understanding "...the training business..." is enough. It's not, it's the REST of "the business" they need to understand. We are a supplier, and if we don't really understand the business details of the people to whom we supply, we'll fail.

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