I had been looking for a job in the training industry for more than year, but I didn’t seem be getting anywhere. I like to say I am a trainer. That is, after all, the direction that my career has been heading for the last several years. I have tried to emphasize to potential employers the organic nature of how my career path transitioned from extremely technical work into that of customer service, training, and instructional design. I tried to explain that is was a natural progression based upon my strengths and abilities. Something was missing but I could not figure out what is was.
I would get calls from HR recruiters and feel I answered their questions well, but I received few interviews as a result of those calls. When I did get an interview, none of them became offers. The questions I eventually asked myself were what was that missing piece and how can I address it? How do I let people know of my ability beyond what is on my resume?
I sat down with my wife, and we discussed this problem. Eventually, we concluded that the answer was education. My background is technical and my education consisted of electronics in the United States Navy and a bachelor’s degree in business management. None of this showed that I knew how to train.
I researched possible avenues to address this problem. One solution was to get a degree that matched my desired career. That idea was quickly discarded as I did not have the time or the money to go back to school. I was trying to get a job, after all. Then I stumbled upon the Associate Professional in Talent Development (APTD) certification. It seemed like the perfect fit. It was describing me . . . the “accidental trainer.” The certification addressed everything I had been doing professionally for the past five years. It covered everything from instructor-led training to content development. But there was one problem: the associated cost. After being unemployed for such a long time, any large cash expenditure was carefully discussed and considered. I started to debate whether the cost was worth the possible return. There was also no guarantee that I would pass.
After careful thought and discussions with my family, we decided to look at is as an investment, and I made the leap. In April of 2019 I set out to get my APTD certification. I went to TD.org, created an account, became a member, and applied for the APTD certification. As soon as I was approved, I purchased the study guide.
The study guide reinforced my feeling that trying for the certification was the right move. I soon realized that while I did know a lot of the concepts, I did not know all of them. I also did not know the technical terminology of the training industry.
After many hours of studying, I am happy to say that I passed my APTD certification test. The only question left to answer was whether or not the investment was worth it. Spoiler . . . it was.
Soon after receiving the certification, I recruiters began calling and interview requests came on a level I had not seen in the year I had been unemployed—from one to two a month to five or six a week. In less than a month after receiving the certification, I had a job offer as an e-learning instructional designer. I would be designing training courses for technical products. It was the perfect mix of my past and future. And the pay was well above the industry standard for an e-learning instructional designer according to Glassdoor.com. To this day, companies are still calling me. As expenditures go, this was the best career investment I have made. I took it upon myself to get the certification, paid for the certification myself, and studied, and it paid off better than I could have hoped for.
I remember interviewing for my current instructional design position. I had applied just before I took my test, so I had put that I was working toward my APTD certification and gave the test date on my cover letter and on my personal website. When I was called to interview it was after the test date and the first question the team asked was, “So, did you pass your test?” The interviewer who asked the question was the director of training. I received an offer within the week.