Do you have an Instructional Design Portfolio?

Job hunting is never easy for an experienced instructional designer. Our work is often proprietary,  confidential, restricted, and hidden from public view.  What we deliver frequently belongs to our employers.

On the flip side, potential employers expect us to be constantly adding tools, networking, and building a strong portfolio of work samples. Instructional designers help people learn. So we should be constantly learning and showing our value.

Today, a public portfolio of instructional design work is expected by most employers. Many job applications will ask for your public-facing website. College programs help their students build portfolios before they graduate with their instructional design certificate. Contract work is on the rise. As a contractor, one must maintain one’s own business, and a portfolio is how you sell yourself.   

Build your portfolio while you are employed. Don’t wait. Invest in yourself.

I’m speaking from my own experience. Over a four-year period, I spent one year hunting for jobs and building portfolio while unemployed. It wasn’t easy. Experts like Tom Kuhlmann back me up. In 2012, I heard him make this point to over 100 instructional designers in a workshop. Tom is passionate on this topic. Do it while you have a job.  

Not enough time? Think of portfolio work as a series of small projects, a 10-hour project in two weeks or a 30-hour project within a month. Then look at your weekly workload. In a 50-hour week, can you set aside 10% of your time (5 hours) to work on your portfolio and learn something new? If you have a boss and an organization that expects you to learn, you may be able to work with them to align your portfolio work with your development goals.  

Still not convinced? There are positive benefits.

By building a portfolio, you will be able to test out your ideas, alter them and refine your portfolio to highlight what you do best. You can learn new skills or new tools, and you may discover a new path to follow. You can try fresh ideas on the public with little risk, because you are offering something to the world for free. You can see where you stand with your peers, and work on your gaps or weaknesses. You can set up your personal computing devices with your favorite tools and do projects you would not normally do at work.

Plus, your current employer benefits from your learning whether you make them aware of it or not. Learning new skills and tools makes you a better employee, and more desirable within your organization.

A portfolio can make you feel more confident about your future. Opportunity knocks at unexpected times. Jobs and organizations change rapidly. With a portfolio, you will be ready to open the door to your next job tomorrow, next year, or when HR calls the meeting for another layoff.

A portfolio can help you see yourself in a new light. We often see ourselves and our work in the context of the organization and team. If the team and organization reward us, we feel satisfied and competent. If they do not, we feel discouraged and unmotivated. Through your portfolio, you may find another way to belong, bump up your self-esteem, and achieve self-actualization (quoting Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs).

Along the journey, you will find surprises. I was surprised when my first SlideShare post attracted 300 people on Halloween night. When I tried my YouTube pie-making video, I learned about the challenges of being on camera. It was fun, the pie was good, and my family and friends enjoyed it. When I shared my instructional design work with peer groups, I realized I knew more than I thought I did. I am absolutely amazed that over 15,000 people have viewed one small 2014 project Leadership Sources of Power on SlideShare.net with very little self-promotion.

The best part about building a portfolio is that it belongs to you. You invest in yourself. Investing in yourself is the path to build earning potential and a strong financial future no matter what happens with the economy. You are a good investment in uncertain times.

Where to start? I know. It is like a blank piece of paper staring at you. Do you create a webinar, video, an e-learning course, podcast, blog, or build a game or lab? What content do you use? Which tool do you use? Where do you share it?

Over the next month, I’m going to write about getting started with your portfolio:

  1. Research: Look for portfolio examples and ideas that appeal to you.  
  2. Produce: Plan and create your own project.
  3. Share: Publish and share your work; solicit and respond to feedback.

Each one of us is unique and different. We are all traveling different directions. So I won’t tell you exactly what to do. Instead, I will share my experiences to help you brainstorm, and get started with your own ideas. That way you can form your own path and direction.

Next week, I will write more on the topic of Research, that is, how to seek portfolio examples and ideas that appeal to you.  

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Women in Technology: Find Your Mentor and Move Ahead

As women working in technology, the road ahead is not always smooth. It’s like riding a mountain bike on a rough trail. Why take on that project? Why learn that tool? See or download the following SlideShare presentation with tips on finding a mentor to guide your ride.

Link to Find Your Mentor on Slideshare.net

Content by Holly Justice; Graphics by Patrick Coan, Guild of Build.

Find Your Mentor and Move Ahead

Holly Justice: Thoughts on Advancing the Careers of Women in Technology
The road we travel as women working in technology is not always going be a smooth ride. It’s like riding a mountain bike on a rough trail.

Riding the mountain bike trail of technology work.

Graphic by Patrick Coan, Guild of Build

Let’s build our endurance by finding and using mentors along the way!

Continue reading

Lightening Talk to Advance Careers of Women in Technology

I’m pleased to be giving a Lightening Talk at the Advancing Careers of Women in Technology event in Portland, Oregon on April 17th.

Special Thanks to Event Creators:

Here is a link to my speech page and supporting materials!

Find Your Mentor and Move Ahead

Twitter? As a Business Tool? You bet!

A Twitter profile page about products, events and good news to share.This post is for those of you who wonder:

  • Why do I need to use Twitter?
  • What is the point of so few words?
  • How can I find the time for one more tool?

I suggest taking a new approach. Think of Twitter as a tool for research, a public current list of information about any business or organization. You can access this list without logging into Twitter or having a Twitter account.

Continue reading

Updating Your Linked In Profile Privately

Do you want all of your Linked In connections to know every time you make a small change to your profile?

Here is a quick video on why broadcasting everything could be irritating to your connections and how to prevent the problem.

Graphic for the software demonstration video.

A Research Paper for the Portfolio

Employers want proof. So you say you are a writer? What have you published?

Most of my professional writing cannot be published on my website. My work is often sold directly by my employers or restricted to inside publication.

If you have that problem too, take a closer look at opportunities to write elsewhere. For example, I write research papers often for college courses.

Today I posted this research paper on the ADDIE and Kirkpatrick training models for my portfolio:

A Training Models study

I wrote this paper for a short cram course entitled “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” based on the popular work of Dr. Stephen R. Covey. Yes, I will “Sharpen the Saw” often. I am a life-long learner.

What do you do to prove what you’ve done? How can you capture and show someone your greatest achievements?

Conquering the Fear of Social Media

What does it take to convince the “forget it” crowd that social media has value?
Do you use Twitter, Facebook or Linked In?
How do you keep your image professional?
How does social media serve you?
Link to Find your Advocate

Creating a Portfolio

Employers want proof. It is not all applications and interviews. When you finally have someone’s attention, job hunting is about what you have done.

Handing someone an entire book won’t work either. You have to scrub it, strip it down and make it digestible. Think short and sweet. A few minutes will be all the time you have to make your point.

Good news! Creating a portfolio does not mean spending a lot of money. I have created everything here with tools I already own or by using free evaluation software. YouTube, WordPress and SlideShare host my content for free. What you will spend is time. It’s worth it.

Today I’m celebrating as I post this portfolio piece. On to the next one!

A technical writing project describing online banking software through flow charts, test scripts and detailed instructions.

What do you do to prove what you’ve done? How can you capture and show someone your greatest achievements?

Save Time with Linked In Job Searches

I love using Linked In to look for jobs. My favorite feature on Linked In is the tool that allows me to save my job searches and set up e-mail alerts. Below is a quick demonstration:

Save Time with Linked In Job Searches

Now if I forget to check Linked In, no worries. I’ll receive a daily or weekly e-mail each time a job that meets my criteria is posted.

Conquering the Fear of Social Media – Position Your Mirror

Picture for positioning your mirror - fear of social mediaAs I became an advocate for social media tools like Linked In, Twitter, Facebook and blogging, it quickly became apparent most people offline suffer from fear of transparency.  What if someone finds out something about me?  What if they get to know all of me, who I am under the skin?

Some of you know this reaction well. When you mention a tool, the person’s reaction is to tell you all the horror stories they know to justify their fear of social media.

But hold on a moment.  Is spying and negative gossip the reason social media exists?  Or are these platforms simply neutral tools to be used for either positive or negative reasons?

Continued on page 2…

Conquering the Fear of Social Media – Find Your Advocate

Picture for finding your advocate - conquering the fear of social mediaAlert!  We have a social media gap!

Recently I attended a job hunting gathering in Hillsboro, Oregon at a local community college. Over sixty of us were gathered in a large lecture hall discussing Linked In.  One person asked if there were any new networking tools to use besides Linked In.  The leader had no suggestions.  I promptly suggested Facebook, Twitter and blogging.

The reaction was shockingly negative. As I turned to look around at the crowd, I saw frowns, shaking heads and grumbles.  At least 80% of the crowd was visibly upset and rejecting my suggestion.  The group leader quickly stated “Linked In is the only one that won’t get you in trouble.”

I consider this a very large social media gap since this meeting was being held in the middle of the Oregon Silicon Forest community.  Almost every open job for the job seeker involves making computer hardware or software.

So what do these terrified job seekers need to begin moving forward in social media?

The answer on page 2…