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Ask a Trainer: What Should I Include in My Instructional Design Resume?


Tue Jul 21 2020

Ask a Trainer: What Should I Include in My Instructional Design Resume?

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Dear Tim,

I’m an instructional designer with more than 10 years of experience, and I have been at my current job for around four years. I enjoy my work, and my organization seems relatively stable, but I’m sure I’m not alone in being concerned about job security given the current state of economic uncertainty. I decided to update my resume in case I end up needing to job hunt, and it made me wonder what a good instructional designer resume looks like.


I’ve found plenty of advice online about creating a good resume, and I’m sure it applies to me as well, but is there anything specific that a good instructional designer resume should include? You answered a question a few weeks ago about portfolios. Do I need both a resume and a portfolio, or does one replace the other?

Thanks for reaching out, and good for you for taking the time to update your resume. While I hope you don’t have to use it, given the current events, it’s never a bad idea to keep it updated.

As you mentioned, there are a lot of standard best practices out there about building a solid resume; however, there’s little information about tailoring a resume specifically for instructional designers. While I do believe our industry is starting to value portfolios more than resumes (which I totally agree with), recruiters are more likely to focus on your resume and let the hiring manager focus on your portfolio.

So, what should you include? Here three things you should always include in your instructional design resume.

#1: A Link to Your Portfolio

As I mentioned in the introduction, having a strong portfolio is a must. I won’t get in to the ins and outs of building a portfolio (you can learn more about that here), but you should always include a link to it on your resume.


Recruiters screen dozens of resumes each day. They pick out the best ones and send them to the hiring manager. At this point, your resume is just one of several others in a large stack. Yes, the hiring manager may take the time to perform a simple LinkedIn or Google search on each name and possibly stumble on your portfolio; however, you don’t want to take that chance. Make it easy for the hiring manager to find your resume by including a link right at the top, near your name. They’ll be much more likely to click on it.

#2: Outcomes of Your Work

Too often, folks view their resume only as a tool to chronologically list their employment history. If you’re just out of college, that may make sense; however, as a professional adult, the purpose of your resume, like a portfolio, is to show your credentials and achievements.

Use your portfolio to highlight the results of your instructional design work. As you list each position, think of it as an opportunity to write a mini case study, explaining the impact you made during your time there. If possible, include hard numbers or metrics. It’ll go a long way to validating your credibility and expertise.

#3: Relevant Keywords

This last one is all about strategy. Most companies use recruiting systems, which scan your resume for keywords that are relevant to the position you’re being hired for. If it doesn’t have the right keywords or not enough of them, your resume may never be seen by an actual human being.

Make sure you resume includes the right keywords by mimicking the language and words used within the job posting. You don’t want to make it overly obvious; however, you don’t want to miss out on an opportunity because you didn’t have the right words on your resume.


I sure hope these tips help. Best of luck!


What other tips do you have about instructional design resumes? Comment below to share them.

Check out the new ATD Ask a Trainer Video Series on YouTube. Each month we’ll publish a new episode in which Tim Slade answers questions submitted via social media.

Do you have a learning question you’d like me to tackle? You can email them to [email protected]. Also, visit the Ask a Trainer hub to check out all of your questions and my answers.

We welcome your comments and engagement on these posts. All posts are reviewed to ensure appropriateness based on ATD’s requirements for postings in our online communities.

Please note: Content shared in this column is provided by the author and may not reflect the perspectives of ATD.

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