Jack Of All Trades

There have been many good conversations lately related to the hiring of instructional designers. And one of the topics that has been brought up time and time again is that of folks positioning themselves as a “jack of all trades” vs “a master of their trade”. Depending on the needs of the hiring committee, this will ultimately determine who is selected to fill an open position. Recently several candidates have had questions related to this and have asked for advice when applying for positions and securing interviews. Should they position themselves as a “jack of all trades” or as “a master of their trade” (being an expert in a smaller range of skills rather than simply being aware of many skills).

After speaking with a number of colleagues it was clear that hiring committees were looking for an individual who might be considered “a master of their trade”. Basically this is someone who has a well-established skillset and not only understands the technology but also understands the psychology of working in the area of instructional design.

For those that want to establish themselves as an expert in the field, an honest assessment of their skills is required. This will position them to be in constant demand and be able to articulate their value. This is exactly what is needed to build a solid reputation. There are a number of ways to gain the expertise needed – such as attending conferences, workshops, webinars, following blogs and listening to podcasts.

How to become an expert? Here are a few things for individuals to consider to become an expert in instructional design.

  • Create a list of current expertise and interests
  • Gain an understanding of what’s trending
  • Interview others in the field (either in-person, via email or through social media)
  • Identify gaps and ask others where skills can be strengthened
  • Clearly define how are you work and prefer to communicate

In order to become an expert you should consider the questions that may be asked by those that have a hiring need. For example: 

  • What are the most common problems you are faced with?
  • What do people do to solve the problems in this area?
  • What mistakes are made time and time again?
  • What do the users need more of?
  • Is there something users are overlooking?
  • What’s growing? What’s fading?
  • What works well? What doesn’t work well? Why?