Are you a tech-savvy teacher who loves creating engaging lesson plans and enjoys researching effective learning methods? If so, Instructional Design could be the perfect career transition. In that case, you’ll want to start building your Instructional Design resume ASAP. The best part? You can set yourself up for success in a new career from the comfort of your very own classroom. You can use the year ahead to build your Instructional Design resume for whenever you’re ready to take that leap.
As a former teacher, I’ve written a lot of content that helps teachers transition into new roles. If you haven’t yet taken my free career quiz or checked out my podcast where I interview former teachers, I highly recommend you do so!
Teachers bring many desirable qualifications to the role, including that passion for and dedication to the learning process. Truthfully, former teachers quickly find that instructional design models and processes in the corporate world have a lot of overlap with those used in the classroom. Instructional Designers work to find gaps in the performance, skills, and knowledge of a specified audience. Then they create or suggesting engaging learning experiences to bridge the gap. They develop everything from courses to training guides that help solve specific problems for companies.
Avoid THIS Teacher to Instructional Designer Resume Mistake.
Despite the similarities between teaching and Instructional Design, teaching experience doesn’t necessarily directly translate over to this new industry. Yes, teaching experience can provide a strong foundation for Instructional Design knowledge and skills. But there is much more to the transition than changing your title from teacher to instructional designer.
The truth is, there are quite a few gaps that you will need to fill. That brings me to the biggest mistake I see teachers make on their Instructional Design resumes. You may have similar experiences and useful background knowledge. But being a teacher is not the same as being an Instructional Designer. Therefore, you should never add the “Instructional Designer” title to your resume in the job history section. (Unless it’s a title you have held.)
Hiring managers know that you were a teacher and they’ll appreciate that role for the experience it gave you. However, if you claim to have been an Instructional Designer, you might be shooting yourself in the foot. Imagine being in an interview and being asked about industry-specific language or certain experiences unique to Instructional Design. Additionally, you don’t want them to think you misunderstand the role entails by misrepresenting it on your resume.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD.
Your best bet? Be honest about your past experience and let your excitement for this new opportunity speak for itself. Lying is never the best way to start. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to increase your value for a role in Instructional Design. Use this school year to your advantage. Learn and implement new skills and tools you can add to your Instructional Design resume and help it stand out from the rest.
Fill in the knowledge gap and learn the tools of the trade by following these Instructional Design resume tips.
Tip 1: Learning the Methodologies.
First, you’ll want to use this school year to study the popular methodologies in the Instructional Design field. You already know that learning theories serve as a foundation for successful solutions to desired learning outcomes. You’re likely familiar with learning theories in K-12 education. But it’s worth familiarizing yourself with the adult-focused methodologies in Instructional Design.
The top three models of Instructional Design I recommend you familiarize yourself with are ADDIE, Bloom’s Taxonomy, and Backward Design. Now, you might already be familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy for classifying educational learning objectives. Or with Backwards Design for determining desired outcomes first. But again, it’s important to understand how these theories apply to adult learning across various industries. ADDIE is a popular method used in Instructional Design involving analyzing gaps, designing, developing, and implementing solutions, and evaluating results. By familiarizing yourself with these methods and their applications, you can confidently mention them on your resume. Then you know that you could answer any questions asked about them in an interview. (I was asked about the ADDIE model in my Instructional Design interview. Thankfully, I had done my research!)
Because it’s more than tossing the names of these methodologies in a resume. You have to be able to talk the talk and walk the walk. Knowing these names and having specific references of how you’ve used them with your students (or potentially when you would use them with an adult audience) will give you confidence. It will help the hiring manager envision you in the Instructional Design role too.
Tip 2: Learn the Tools (and Skills) of the Trade To Add To Your Instructional Design Resume.
Knowing the methodologies is the first part. My next piece of advice is learning the popular tools of the trade. This is where I warn you that Instructional Design is a great path for the tech-savvy teacher. If technology isn’t your thing, that’s cool! But just know that there’s a good chance instructional design won’t be your cup of tea either. Having a passion for technology will make any learning curves of the industry less painful. Plus, you might find that you’re more excited to implement these new technologies in your current classroom for practice. (I call that a win-win!)
Now, as you begin exploring the tools of the trade, I have two big pieces of advice. First, don’t spend all of your time learning one tool or skill, like video editing. There’s so much to learn in the world of Instructional Design. So, you don’t want to back yourself into a corner. The more experience you can build, the more versatile and valuable of a candidate you can be.
As for my second piece of advice, there’s no need to rush into these tools. Jump into them once you’re comfortable with the methodology. Take your time exploring and learning these new tools and building these useful skills. Knowing they exist isn’t where your value as an Instructional Designer comes into play. It’s when you have a deep understanding of which tools to use when and how to use them to get others to achieve desired results.
Tip 3: Practice With Your Students.
As you learn the tools of the trade, build desirable skills for an Instructional Design resume by practicing on your students!
INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN RESUME SKILLS: VIDEO EDITING.
First stop? I highly recommend learning video editing software. Camtasia is a popular video editing tool in the Instructional Design field. It’s a great choice for creating instructional videos with editing and screen-recording capabilities. You can even sign up for Camtasia using the education license to receive a discounted price. (Heck yes!)
Regardless of which software you learn, practice creating quality videos to enhance the learning experience and achieve learning objectives in your classroom. For example, you could create a blended classroom model by pre-recording the cornerstone lessons of your course. Post those pre-recorded lessons on a class website or learning platform and refer to them throughout the year as needed.
Once you iron out the kinks in your video editing skills, you can create instructional videos geared toward adults. These would be great additions to your portfolio. They’ll show how your video editing and teaching skills go beyond the K-12 classroom. Then, you add video editing skills to your resume knowing you could explain how you used them in an interview.
INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN RESUME SKILLS: GRAPHIC DESIGN.
Let me start by saying you don’t have to be a professional graphic designer to be a successful Instructional Designer. However, you should be able to create appealing visuals that add to the learning experience. Yes, creating visuals over just grabbing them from the internet takes more time. But it’s totally worth it to add the skill to your toolbox and Instructional Design resume. (Trust me.) Graphic design is something you can (and should) practice all year long. These visuals enhance your student’s experience and make for portfolio pieces that will clearly demonstrate your ability.
Real talk. The only way that you will learn this skill is through practice. I highly recommend using Canva. It’s a great tool for creating any form of visual content, from social media graphics to brochures to posters. I’ve used it for materials in the classroom, Instructional Design, and even in my business! The best part? Canva offers a free version that you can play around with before purchasing the Pro version. Even then, you can access the Pro features for a 30-day free trial.
Trust me. I know you are busy and already have so much on your plate. However, you don’t want to fall into the trap of relying on templates here. Afterall, the goal here is to learn graphic design, right? So, play around a bit with the free version until you get comfortable. Try new things. Look at some templates as models and then branch out into creating your own. (This is one time I encourage you to spend extra time creating fun posters and décor for your classroom.) Canva makes it easy to organize and save your designs. You’ll have a plethora of samples to pull from if you’re ever looking to showcase your new skills.
INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN RESUME SKILLS: DIGITAL CONTENT CREATION.
I’m willing to bet you are well versed in Google Suite or Microsoft Office. Perhaps you use Google Docs to revise essays with your students or Microsoft PowerPoint to share content in class. In the world of Instructional Design, there are other, more advanced tools for fostering learning experiences. You can use these authoring tools to create eLearning materials across various industries. But again, you can start by implementing them in your very own classroom.
I would suggest starting with Articulate Storyline 360, a user-friendly platform for creating interactive eLearning experiences. (Bonus: it’s similar to PowerPoints, so there’s less of a learning curve. Plus they offer a 2-month free trial.) Adobe Captivate is another industry standard but I find that Adobe products tend to have a steeper learning curve. However, if you are leaning more towards wanting to pursue graphic design, I would prioritize learning Adobe. It will have more to offer you in the long run.
Tip 4: Practice With Adults.
In addition to students, you can look toward adults in your building as you build skills for your Instructional Design resume. Afterall, Instructional Design is all about identifying weak spots and creating the resources needed to strengthen them, right? (Right.)
So, start to conduct a training needs analysis among the teachers at your school. Remember, one of the most important steps in Instructional Design is identifying, analyzing, and understanding the gaps. Ask yourself, What training needs to be created for the adults in the buildings to bridge any potential performance gaps? Are there gaps in understanding and successfully implementing certain technologies? You can look for needs in the areas of communication, problem-solving, self-management, leadership, and even teamwork. Truthfully, most schools would benefit from additional training in one or more of these areas.
Let’s take a look at how you might approach a training needs analysis at your school:
- Technology adaptation: Can you identify one tool that every teacher would benefit from learning more about? Maybe it’s learning how it works or how to effectively implement the technology in the classroom. Most schools could benefit from tools that best support one type of lesson or learner. (Think reading intervention or ELL.) Alternatively, consider creating training materials to help spread the love for your favorite educational platform or tool. Teach others how to implement it in their classroom!
- Self-management: One of the biggest problems teachers face is having too much to do. However, are there any productivity tools that you know would save teachers time? (What teacher wouldn’t want that?!) If so, could you create a training video explaining how other teachers could use it? Or create a 1-page PDF explaining how to implement said tool? Or perhaps you could create a training guide to help other teachers improve time management or organization.
- Teamwork: Think about creating a strategy for teamwork so teachers have less work on their plate. Instead, propose a system for dividing and conquering their PLC tasks. Perhaps one teacher would be in charge of creating PPTs. Another might be in charge of designing formative assessments. Another could be tasked with making extension activities, etc. Whatever you come up with, consider how to effectively relay this strategy to other teachers to get them on board.
SHARE YOUR SKILLS.
Is there a single technology tool you are excited about? Can you teach it in under 10 minutes? If so, I recommend creating a training video for it using Camtasia. Then you can upload your video to Youtube, Twitter, and other social media platforms for wider reach.
For increased exposure and traction, tag the education company or share your video on your LinkedIn. Before you write off this extra step, know that I’ve had former teachers do this. The result? They received a job offer creating customer learning or teacher education programs from that exact company. Now, of course, that isn’t going to happen to everyone. In fact, most large companies have in-house marketing teams that handle this sort of thing. But it’s worth mentioning the possibility because it can happen. It has happened. At the very least, you’re gaining confidence (and potentially looks from other companies) by putting yourself out there.
TAKE IT ONE STEP FURTHER.
The hardest part about embarking on new opportunities is putting yourself out there. But this is where I remind you that you don’t have to go all-in from day one. Truthfully, Instructional Design requires skills that take time to develop anyway. The fact that you’re still reading this tells me you’re willing to take that time to make a successful career transition.
However, don’t think you have to wait to land your new role to start getting paid for your newfound skills. If you are loving video editing or graphic design, you can start freelancing on Upwork or other similar platforms. That way you can continue to gain experience, build your portfolio, and make some extra cash at the same time.
Tip 5: Putting It All Together for your Instructional Design Resume
As you continue to learn the tools of the trade, be sure you’re putting the ID methodologies to use. Therefore, you could hypothetically explain your process behind and approach to your training materials.
Tip 6: Get Your Hands Dirty.
If you’re a dedicated life-long learner like me, this is where it gets exciting. Yes, trying new things can be intimidating or seem like daunting, time-consuming tasks. Thanks to your teaching background, you’ll intuitively learn quite a bit along the way just by doing the darn thing. You’ll learn much more this way than you would without getting your hands dirty here. The more you engage with these tools and practice your skills, the more you’ll learn and grow. Without this hands-on exploration, how will you truly understand when it’s best to use Articulate Storyline? When is it best to use a video? When is it best to send a quick PDF with links to external sources for reference?
I’m telling you. Companies are looking for someone capable of understanding how to create the training materials. But they also want someone who knows when they need to be implemented. Companies don’t want to spend thousands of dollars creating eLearning resources that aren’t actually needed. Part of Instructional Design is assessing the situation. Then it’s about determining the right course of action to bridge any gaps in understanding or ability.
You know the saying, “this meeting could have been an email?” Let’s just say you’ll want to know how to avoid comments like, “this hour-long training could have been a PDF.” So, the more you practice and play around with it, the more you’ll learn. The more you learn and understand, the more valuable you’ll be in the world of Instructional Design. Afterall, isn’t that the goal?
Tip 7: Translate the Lingo of Your Instructional Design Resume .
Congrats! Once you’ve actually learned, practiced, and refined these new skills, you can add them to your Instructional Design resume. The best part? You’re not lying! You might not have held the title of an instructional designer. But your resume will showcase how you will be able to transition into the role regardless.
Yes, there’s much to learn about the field of Instructional Design. But teachers already have many transferable skills and experiences that can help their Instructional Design resume. So, whether we’re talking about adding new skills or translating teacher experiences, it’s all about how you word them on your resume.
For example, writing and editing, curriculum development, and managerial skills are highly transferable skills. Similarly, if you have exposure to Learning Management Systems (LMS), course development software, teacher training programs, and parent/teacher communication apps, you have a great deal of useful experience as you step into the field of Instructional Design.
But when it comes to the wording on your resume, avoid using language fit for the world of K-12 education. Might there be some overlap? Absolutely. Afterall, both roles are rooted in learning. However, you want to write a resume that transcends the classroom. This will allow a hiring manager to imagine you in a role outside of teaching. You can learn even more tips for writing your teacher transition resume here.
Here’s a BONUS TIP.
If you’re looking to stand out as a strong candidate, you’ll need to go beyond a killer resume. Additionally, you will want to showcase your skills in a portfolio. The good news is you can begin developing your portfolio right now! Then you can continue adding to it over time.
However, you’ll want to only have your BEST, most up-to-date work reflected on your portfolio. It’s tempting to throw in any and all of your teaching materials. But I recommend you don’t– unless it’s the only thing you have and you MUST apply to a dream job tomorrow. Ideally, your portfolio should showcase a variety of materials rooted in different subject matters. This will help show a range of skills and prove your versatility.
Now, I know you spend A LOT of time in the classroom. You might be wondering where the heck you’re going to find the time, energy, or inspiration to create additional materials. First and foremost, if you’re dedicated to this career transition, your portfolio will be worth your time and effort. Many teachers leave a portfolio out of their application for Instructional Design roles. They don’t realize how important they are or simply because they don’t prioritize taking the time to create one. However, I’ve spoken to hiring managers who’ve admitted a missing portfolio can be an instant candidate disqualifier.
As far as knowing where to begin, I recommend turning to job descriptions for inspiration. Look at three different job postings in the realm of Instructional Design for ideas. Then, try to develop materials that would apply to the needs outlined in those particular job postings.
Preparing For Your Teacher Career Transition.
Learning these methodologies and practicing the tools of the trade will not only help build your resume. It will also strengthen your confidence and push back against any Impostor Syndrome you may be feeling. However, if you’re feeling overwhelmed after reading this, I totally get it. Learning the ropes of a new career can be a daunting task. Is it a lot of work? Yes. Is it worth it? Also, yes. But also remember this: Instructional Design does not have to be your first career outside of the classroom. Maybe it’s not the right career transition for your period. (And if not, that’s totally cool too.) It is not the only career that hires teachers. There are several roles out there that do not require building a portfolio and take less work to get into.
The bottom line is that it’s okay if you’re feeling ready for something new. It’s okay to start dipping your toes into new industries and building new skills while you’re still in the classroom. In fact, if you’re even considering leaving the classroom, I recommend doing just that. Learning and practicing new skills helps you clarify your interests and figure out what your next career path might be.
Meet Our Teacher Career Coach Team Member Sarah Mill. After 4 years of teaching secondary English, Sarah left both the classroom and her home state of NH to travel the country with her fiancé and rediscover her passions. Enter: writing.
As self-proclaimed #wordnerd, she’s now on a mission to connect people through the power of stringing the *right* words together. If she’s not at her laptop, she’s likely off exploring in the wilderness, hosting a family game night, or curling up with a good book.