7 Lessons from an ID Hiring Manager for Anyone Looking for ID Work
Updated: Jul 1
As an ID department manager, I was tasked with identifying hiring need and selecting the right people to fill the role. By the end of my time with that company, I had grown the department from a team of 4 designers to 12 designers, 3 authoring assistants, 2 project coordinators, and 2 interns.
Once I went out on my own, I continued to play the role of recruiter and advisor, helping clients to create job descriptions, distinguish high performing candidates, make attractive offers, and train new hires to proficiency.
Along the way, I've found myself outsourcing parts of my development work, such as video production, voiceover, and content development, which means I've interviewed and hired small businesses and individuals for work I have to put my brand name on (Shout out to the fantastic Jr IDs helping me behind the scenes: Maile, Margaret, and Jessie!).
I can't say I have a perfect track record as a hiring manager. I've certainly made some blunders along the way, but not many, if I'm being honest. At this point, I am confident that I've found what works and that I can identify the right person for just about any instructional design or communications project.
And I am extremely proud of the folks I've hired and mentored along the way, not because I hired them, but because THEY are amazing. Watching them grow in their careers has made me truly happy, and I feel very lucky to have been part of their journey.
So... for those who are applying for roles and/or trying to snag clients as a freelancer, these are my hot takes for you.
1. Have a philosophy of learning / learning design.
A philosophy of learning is sort of like your worldview, just narrowly applied to teaching and learning / learning design. It's the frame of reference from which you approach all learning design related tasks. Think about what you believe strongly in and who or what has shaped those beliefs.
2. Be able to describe your process.
ADDIE is great and all, but you'll have to do better than just name dropping ID terms. Be ready to talk about how you work with complex material, subject matter experts, and within deadlines.
3. Know your stats.
And by your stats, I mean, your stats. Quantify your accomplishments to make it easy for a hiring manager to see you're a go-getter. It doesn't have to be anything too crazy, but simple things can make a big impact. For example, I've worked with enterprise level companies to deploy training to tens of thousands of people, meaning that there are over 250,000+ folks influenced by my work. I could just say "I've developed eLearning for large corporations" but translating that into a number makes a much bigger impact and provides evidence to support my claim.
4. Speak to the needs of the specific role and company.
Generic ID know-how is not enough to land you a job. The interview is a way to show you fit into the role and into the company, so do your homework. Really read that job description, and review the company website. In what ways do you believe you'll be able to meet those expectations, and in what ways can you help further the company's mission?
Also, keep in mind that all ID roles are not created equally. You'll want to make sure you're applying for a role that actually speaks to you.
5. Get a friend or hire someone to help you prep.
I am fantastic proofreader-- of other people's work. I can almost guarantee if I don't have someone read my job materials before I turn them over, there will be an error of some sort. And for some hiring managers, that's enough to toss the resume. Don't make it that easy for them.
Also, interview jitters are greatly ameliorated when we feel prepared, and consistent practice helps us to feel prepared. Practicing interviews with a friend, mentor, or colleague can help you get better at thinking on your toes and responding to questions you hadn't prepared for.
6. Be on time.
I won't even explain this. Be on time (even better, be a few minutes early).
7. Interview them.
Lastly, I want to encourage you to listen carefully and closely. This isn't just THEIR opportunity to interview you. It's YOUR opportunity to interview them-- to decide if this is really a job you want.
Questions I'd suggest you ask...
1. What does a typical work day look like for someone in this role?
2. Who will I be working with most closely?
3. How do we work with clients (if that's part of the role)?
4. What do our project timelines look like?
5. What does it take to be successful in this role?
6. What are the expectations for my work in the first 90 days? 6 months?
7. How is success measured?
8. What would the ideal "face" of the company look like to you?
Need some help sprucing up your resume? Check out the FREE Resume Revamp guide. It's designed for educators transitioning to ID, but I think it's useful for just about anyone.