Crossover Careers for Technical Professionals1 | 2 |
- What education credentials you already have. Some employers will hire without a degree, others will not.
- What skills and competencies you already have.
- What experience you have in the industry, which could be anything from health care to insurance.
- What type of job you want.
So what tools do you need to make a career change? You can start by updating your resume. Functional resume formats seem to be gaining popularity. This format could list categories such as technical expertise, project management, instructional technology or management.
The current employment trend in instructional design and e-learning also emphasizes applicant portfolios. A portfolio is a collection of items, called artifacts, that document and demonstrate your professional knowledge, skills, abilities and competencies in a tangible way. A basic portfolio may include:
- A resume.
- A list of career accomplishments.
- Letters of reference.
- Copies of reports.
- Documents and electronic files.
- Multimedia presentations.
- Video and audio productions.
- Other samples of your work.
One good way to start creating items for your portfolio is to draft your top 10 career accomplishments. These can often be a great foundation for building your resume or preparing for interview questions and performance appraisals.
Ideally, your accomplishments should be specific and quantifiable. They should address business issues. Remember that employers don't just want to hear what you did; they want to know how you can solve their problems.
Here are some examples of possible accomplishments for an e-learning developer:
- Designed an e-learning course that reduced costs by nearly 8 percent.
- Created an online assessment tool that improved data collection by 12 percent.
- Conducted a needs analysis for a $450,000 project.
- Acted as project manager for a job serving 275 customers.
- Created a tool that increased employee performance by more than 9 percent.
Your Game Plan
The field of instructional design and e-learning is very broad. Before you invest a lot of time and effort, investigate if this field is really for you.
Conduct some brief informational interviews with people in the industry. Find out how they ended up where they are. What sort of background, education and previous experience do they have? What do they do on a daily basis? What do they like about the field? What do they dislike? What are the opportunities and challenges in the profession? What advice do they have for someone trying to get into the field?
Then, attend a local professional association meeting. The American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) is a good source of information about the profession. In addition to the national chapter, there are local chapters nationwide. Look up a local chapter by visiting www.astd.org.
The most important thing is to take action now. Don’t wait for things to happen to you. Take control of your career by getting starting today.
Gregory R. Williams, Ed.D., is director of the ISD-training systems graduate program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. He can be reached at email@example.com | 2 |