How to land my first job as an eLearning Designer? All I get as feedback is lack of experience!

Hello all,

I am a teacher trying to land my first job as an eLearning Designer. I had an interview last week, and everything went smoothly. After 5 failed interviews and taking 2 different interview courses, I finally understood how to be myself when answering questions.

This company told me that they really liked me, and I had a lot of experience related to the job, but they couldn't be able to give me the support I needed to "hit the ground running"!

Now I'm wondering what I can actually do for my future interviews. What is it that I'm missing, and how can I get the experience they want? How to learn how to "hit the ground running."?

I would appreciate your time and feedback.

 

I attached my resume, and here is my portfolio website:

http://sarahraad.rf.gd/

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6 Replies
David Anderson

Hi Sarah - 

Thanks for sharing your story. I know how hard it can be to get that first opportunity to show what you know. The good news is there are many ways to begin showing your work while developing your skills.

Show your work and build your portfolio

One of the best ways to hit the ground running is with our weekly e-learning challenges. They're a fantastic way to take the concepts you've learned to show your work and begin building your e-learning portfolio.

What are the weekly e-learning challenges?

Every Friday, we post a new e-learning challenge. The topics cover common course-building topics ranging from technical to visual to conceptual. 

The following Thursday, I'll curate the examples into a recap post with links to each demo and the course designer who built it.

Where can I find a list of challenges?

You can find the E-Learning Challenges hub by hovering over the Learn drop-down menu on the E-Learning Heroes home page. You can always find the current challenge in the top left corner of the page.

How do I participate?

To participate, open the challenge post and drop a link to your project in the comments. If you have Articulate 360, the easiest way is to publish your project to Review 360 and share that link.

What else should I know?

The best way to hit the ground running is by doing. Here are a few ways to get started practicing and showing your work in the weekly challenges:

  • The challenges are always open. You can join the current or any previous challenge. The current challenge will always have the most activity while the older challenges are a little quieter. Sometimes users feel more comfortable joining older challenges because it's a way to test the waters without drawing too much attention.
  • Make it a goal to participate monthly. You don't need to join every challenge. Make a goal to participate once or twice a month.
  • They don't need to be perfect. The main thing is to come up with an idea and see if you can make it work. Some people build simple prototypes, and some put more work into them. It doesn't matter. The main thing is you're playing around with some ideas and the software.
  • Check out the recaps every week. Even if you don't do the challenge, look at the weekly recaps to see what others have done. You'll see a broad range of ideas, and many share their source files, so it's easy to deconstruct them and learn from what they did.

Here are a few suggested challenges to help you get started:

Those are just a few places to start. You can view the full list of challenges on the archive page. Most challenges are still open so you can jump into one or more that interest you.

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions around the challenges.

Sarah Raad

Hi David,
Thank you for your time and the useful info.

I'm not sure if working on Articulate more than I already have is the answer here. I have a portfolio now. I think what they meant was more than working with Articulate, though. I'm just wondering what they meant by "hitting the ground running".

I will share my projects online in the community, though. Getting more feedback is always useful.

The suggestions that you made were awesome. I will definitely look into them to make my portfolio interactive.

Thank you, David, for the help.

Bianca Woods

Hi Sarah, and congratulations on deciding to make the shift from teaching to e-learning design. I think you're going to enjoy this new career path a lot.

The feedback of "hit the ground running" is subjective, so It's tricky to know what specifically this company meant by it. That said, it's not uncommon for people making this career shift to find employers don't fully see how their teaching experience connects to corporate e-learning. Here are some typical challenges teachers encounter when moving to e-learning development and ideas for how to address them:

The portfolio leans too far toward teaching examples
When designing their first e-learning portfolio, many teachers take content they've taught in the classroom and create e-learning versions. While this can be excellent e-learning development practice, it's not as great for showing a business you're capable of designing and developing corporate e-learning and training. You and I both know the skills transfer, but businesses don't always realize that and can get distracted by seeing content for children.

The best way around this is to remove e-learning for teaching children out of your portfolio and replace it with new business-focused e-learning examples (related to this, taking out classroom teaching seminars and workshops from your resume can also remove distractors). If you're looking for corporate e-learning example ideas, check out the weekly challenges David mentioned.

Side note: if you're applying for corporate e-learning jobs and ones related to designing content for schools, consider creating two versions of your resume and portfolio: each playing up different aspects of your experience.

You need to show what you can do in addition to e-learning development
Being able to use an e-learning development tool is just part of the work. Depending on the role and company, it also involves needs analysis, connecting your e-learning to business goals, project planning, working with subject matter experts, and complete relationships with business partners. An employer may think you've got great e-learning development skills but wonder if they'll need to teach you those other aspects.

One way to solve this is to build in a business view into your portfolio site. For each e-learning example consider sharing more than just the published course. Including what problem or situation needed to be solved (basing your fictional examples around common business challenges can help you here) and how the course addressed it can demonstrate you have those additional skills businesses will be looking for.

It's also good to research the planning processes e-learning teams tend to use for establishing a project plan, working with SMEs, and keeping on top of the project timeline. I've linked to a few here, but there are lots of other articles related to these topics to explore on E-Learning Heroes too. Weaving these techniques and terms into your interview can show you have these business skills employers are looking for.

It's tricky to learn to speak "business"
One of the biggest challenges I had to overcome in my own move from classroom teaching to e-learning design was learning business language. You need to figure out how to explain your experience and ideas in ways that make sense to people who don't come from a teaching background. I also discovered just how different corporate priorities for learning are than those in schools. Rather than the end goal being learning, businesses want learning experiences to support specific business goals and needs.

This different way of speaking about learning can do a lot in an interview to convince employers you're ready to thrive in a corporate environment. It's not easy to pick up, but I found talking with experienced e-learning developers and instructional designers can help. Also, there are a number of books available these days specifically for accidental instructional designers and new e-learning designers. They can also help you think about learning from a business perspective.

I hope this all helps you think about your future interviews in new ways. If it brings up any additional questions, be sure to reach out.

Sarah Raad

Wow, Bianca,

I am speechless and cannot really express how grateful I am for your feedback. I totally understand the business side of it all now, and it became very clear to me with your feedback.

Bianca Woods

The best way around this is to remove e-learning for teaching children out of your portfolio and replace it with new business-focused e-learning examples (related to this, taking out classroom teaching seminars and workshops from your resume can also remove distractors). If you're looking for corporate e-learning example ideas, check out the weekly challenges David mentioned.

This was gold! Thank you for that.

Every paragraph was helpful. Now I have a weekend to prepare for my next interview on Tuesday! 

Thank you very much for this, Bianca.