After doing the reflection exercise noted in my previous blog (Building an Instructional Design Portfolio – Reflection Exercise to Find Your Direction), you will have a better sense of your future direction. You will know what you love about your work, what you would rather avoid or minimize, and the type of culture that suits you best.
Now do some research to see how your direction fits in today’s current job market.
Even if you are 100% happy with your current work and employer, this is an important step to see how your wishes and dreams compare to the marketplace. Does your dream job still exist? Or has it morphed into something else? Do this exercise every couple of years; the job market changes rapidly. The goal is to avoid building a portfolio piece that is outdated too quickly or reflects the wrong direction.
Start by searching public-facing job sites like Indeed.Com or LinkedIn. Keep in mind that LinkedIn job descriptions are costly for employers to post, so you may be seeing a subset of the market. Indeed.Com is a handy crawler site that will pick up jobs from a large variety of private websites. Most job search tools allow you to save searches. This way you can conduct this exercise over a series of weeks, searching for the tools and skills that you see in your future direction.
But what about that culture or environment fit? Doing a search on LinkedIn or Indeed.Com produces broad results. Now narrow your job search to be within an organization that fits your future direction. To determine corporate fit from the outside, check out sites like Glassdoor.
Knowing where your dream job fits in the market will help you fine tune the direction for your portfolio. You can learn better ways to describe and showcase your strengths for your future direction.
As you look at the job market, ask yourself these questions:
- Are there any dream jobs showing up?
- Are there any new skills and tools in these job descriptions?
- What words are used to describe this work?
- If you had five minutes, what tools might help you prove you could do that job?
- Which words do not produce the jobs you would hope to find?
My Personal Example
By searching on the words ‘writing’, ‘elearning’, and the tools I liked to use like ‘Camtasia’ and ‘Visio’, I was able to find my dream jobs. My dream job titles were often dramatically different, but the common theme of instructional design and communications was always present in each job.
From this exercise, I ended up rewriting my resume to highlight the elements of my past that tied to the future.
I also found out certain words did not work at all. When I searched for key words like ‘trainer’, very few jobs in my region came up. When I searched broadly on Indeed or LinkedIn, most trainer jobs were jobs that were highly academic (training nurses or doctors at a university) or completely unrelated to my previous work (training dogs, training retail workers at Walmart).
When I did my targeted search at large organizations with the right cultural fit, the few technical training jobs that did show up in my searches were all road warrior jobs, the exact opposite of my current direction.
Out of this exercise, I realized I did not want to be tied to just one job title, so I came up with my own way of expressing what I did for a living: People | Projects | Software | Communication. My direction for the future would be to showcase my skills in technical writing, instructional design and current e-learning tools.