BLOC Podcast

74: The Skills You ACTUALLY Need for your ID portfolio with Tim Slade

June 06, 2023 Episode 74
BLOC Podcast
74: The Skills You ACTUALLY Need for your ID portfolio with Tim Slade
Show Notes Transcript

I finally get a chance to sit down with one of my L&D besties -- the one and only Tim Slade -- to talk about what you need to become an ID and how to present those skills in your portfolio. We tackle some common misconceptions and help you navigate through some of the noise!

Tim Slade is a speaker, author, and award-winning freelance eLearning designer. Having spent the last decade working to help others elevate their eLearning and instructional design content, Tim has been recognized and awarded within the learning and development industry multiple times for his creative and innovative design aesthetics. Tim is also a regular speaker at international eLearning and instructional design conferences, a recognized Articulate Super Hero, a LinkedIn Learning instructor, author of The eLearning Designer’s Handbook, and creator of The eLearning Designer’s Academy

I took it upon myself to recommend Tim's free community of eLearning professionals to anyone who is looking to get into instructional design. 

Thanks for listening to the BLOC!

Connect with me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/heidiekirby/

Or check out what I'm working on over at https://www.getusefulstuff.com/

Heidi Kirby:
Hey Tim, how's it going?

Tim Slade:
Hey Heidi, I'm doing good, how are you?

Heidi Kirby:
Good, good. Let's dive right in. For anyone who may not know you, give us a little bit about who you are, where you came from, what you do now, where you wanna, what you wanna be when you grow up, anything fun you wanna share.

Tim Slade:
Oh gosh, that's a really loaded question. So I'm a freelance e-learning designer and instructional designer, and I've been working in this industry in some capacity for the last 15 years. I used to catch shoplifters for a living, and then somebody was like, hey, you're great at catching shoplifters, teach others how to do it. And that's how I was introduced into instructional design. And... I've worked for big companies and small companies and government companies, not companies, but you know what I mean. I've worked all over the industry and now I run my own program to teach others all the stuff that I wish I would have had access to when I was starting 15 years ago through the eLearning Designers Academy.

Heidi Kirby:
I love it.

Tim Slade:
Thank you.

Heidi Kirby:
So basically, you got into ID via crime fighting.

Tim Slade:
Yeah, pretty much.

Heidi Kirby:
I mean, that's like a really cool way to say it. Ha ha ha.

Tim Slade:
I know, I caught shoplifters. I was really good at catching shoplifters too.

Heidi Kirby:
That's great because I remember when I worked retail, I worked at Old Navy and Kohl's

Tim Slade:
Oh, that's

Heidi Kirby:
as

Tim Slade:
where

Heidi Kirby:
like

Tim Slade:
I caught,

Heidi Kirby:
summer

Tim Slade:
that's where

Heidi Kirby:
jobs.

Tim Slade:
I was at, at Kohl's corporate office.

Heidi Kirby:
that's right. I remember

Tim Slade:
Yeah.

Heidi Kirby:
hearing podcasts and being like, oh yeah. And I remember at Kohl's, somebody walked out with like an entire cart full of clothing. And like we all just had to stand there and watch. And it was,

Tim Slade:
Oh,

Heidi Kirby:
I

Tim Slade:
that's

Heidi Kirby:
was like,

Tim Slade:
awful.

Heidi Kirby:
I want to go tackle that person. They're like,

Tim Slade:
I

Heidi Kirby:
no,

Tim Slade:
know.

Heidi Kirby:
you can't. So

Tim Slade:
What years

Heidi Kirby:
I wish you

Tim Slade:
did

Heidi Kirby:
would

Tim Slade:
you

Heidi Kirby:
have

Tim Slade:
work

Heidi Kirby:
worked

Tim Slade:
at

Heidi Kirby:
at

Tim Slade:
Kohl's?

Heidi Kirby:
my Kohl's.

Tim Slade:
I don't know.

Heidi Kirby:
2006?

Tim Slade:
Oh, that's when I was there. Yeah, OK, you were...

Heidi Kirby:
Oh, nice!

Tim Slade:
Yeah, I'm

Heidi Kirby:
That's awesome.

Tim Slade:
sure we could reminisce about the store music that they would play over and

Heidi Kirby:
Oh

Tim Slade:
over

Heidi Kirby:
yeah,

Tim Slade:
and over again and

Heidi Kirby:
yeah,

Tim Slade:
all sorts of fun things.

Heidi Kirby:
the pop music

Tim Slade:
Yeah,

Heidi Kirby:
slash

Tim Slade:
yeah.

Heidi Kirby:
weather channel music.

Tim Slade:
Yeah. They had this one

Heidi Kirby:
Nice.

Tim Slade:
song, like during 2007, during 2008, they had this marketing campaign with this one song. ["Song of the Year"] and the line in the song is, we're all in this together, and they would play it like every third song, and it's still like, if I hear this song, it's a

Heidi Kirby:
Was

Tim Slade:
good

Heidi Kirby:
it like

Tim Slade:
song.

Heidi Kirby:
the high school musical song?

Tim Slade:
I can't remember, I don't know. I've never seen high school musicals, so it might be, but it would, it just was, it was awful. It was like drilled

Heidi Kirby:
Oh.

Tim Slade:
into everyone's brains, so yeah. ["Spring Day"]

Heidi Kirby:
Yeah, yeah. That was like any song that you saw in like an Old Navy commercial, they would play in the store on repeat. And you would just want to

Tim Slade:
Yeah.

Heidi Kirby:
wear earmuffs. Yeah.

Tim Slade:
Yeah.

Heidi Kirby:
So. You help people make instructional design portfolios. You assist them in that

Tim Slade:
Sort of.

Heidi Kirby:
through giving them advice.

Tim Slade:
Yeah.

Heidi Kirby:
But you've also probably seen a number of portfolios as a hiring manager as well,

Tim Slade:
Oh sure, yeah.

Heidi Kirby:
right? And I'm in the same boat. So I wanna talk a little bit today about the... the interesting take on ID portfolios in the field. So the first thing I wanna ask you is, what, if you had to just pick one thing, what do you think is the most critical thing to get a cross in an ID portfolio?

Tim Slade:
I think... There's this bit of advice I give people about their careers, and this applies whether you're in our industry or whatever your focus is from a career standpoint, is that at a certain point in your career, you need to be able to clearly articulate what it is that you love doing, what you're really good at, and what you wanna be hired for. And

Heidi Kirby:
Hmm.

Tim Slade:
what people are willing to pay you for. And where those three things intersect, or four things, is your... I don't know if you'll call it your niche or your focus or whatever, right? And sometimes it takes years and years and years for people to figure that out because you got to do a bunch of crap and realize what you love and what you don't

Heidi Kirby:
Yeah.

Tim Slade:
love and what you're good at, what you're not good at. But that's what your portfolio should convey. What you're what you really love doing, what you're really, really good at, what you want to be hired for. And so where that becomes an issue is you see a lot of people who create portfolios where it's just this mishmash of stuff because

Heidi Kirby:
Mmm.

Tim Slade:
they're creating a portfolio just because they were told to rather than they really understand how they want to market themselves to hiring managers or clients.

Heidi Kirby:
I think that's a really good point. I want to take a step back and then ask, what is an ID portfolio? Because I think that I skipped that question

Tim Slade:
Yeah.

Heidi Kirby:
and I think it's an important definition.

Tim Slade:
Yeah. So, so this, this is so important because I think, am I allowed to curse? Okay.

Heidi Kirby:
Yeah.

Tim Slade:
So this has been so bastardized in our industry in the last couple of years that I concept of what a portfolio is. Right now, if you ask people what a portfolio is, they're going to tell you it's a website. I need to build a website. And a portfolio isn't a website. A portfolio is a collection of work. that

Heidi Kirby:
Hmm.

Tim Slade:
showcases your skills. And so... When you said a moment ago, you help people build their portfolios, and I said, sort of. Hmm, I don't help people build websites. I help people build samples of work to showcase their skills. And the reason that definition is so important to understand is because that's, again, a lot of people create pretty websites, and then they have nothing to put on it. They have no, you know, all they have left is to put like an infographic they created on Canva.

Heidi Kirby:
Yeah.

Tim Slade:
And it's like, that's not a portfolio, honey.

Heidi Kirby:
Yeah. Yes.

Tim Slade:
You know, you need to like create some samples of work. So a

Heidi Kirby:
Yes.

Tim Slade:
portfolio

Heidi Kirby:
Yes.

Tim Slade:
is a collection of samples of work. not a website. It can be a website,

Heidi Kirby:
100%

Tim Slade:
but it doesn't have to be.

Heidi Kirby:
100% agree. I don't know where we went wrong. in this field where we've started to tell people who are trying to get into it that they have to have website building skills because I was just on another podcast recording today where there was a question like do I need to know HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to be an instructional designer right and my

Tim Slade:
XAPI

Heidi Kirby:
answer was

Tim Slade:
or

Heidi Kirby:
no

Tim Slade:
yeah.

Heidi Kirby:
no no no no no no no no right

Tim Slade:
Not at all.

Heidi Kirby:
And you don't need to build a website. I can honestly tell you as a hiring manager that I have never excluded candidates for handing me portfolio or work samples via email, via Google Drive, via a PDF with links. Like, an email with links, right? Like here's an email, here's a bunch of links, like here's my work. I've never excluded a candidate for presenting their work that way. So this emphasis on a website.

Tim Slade:
I totally agree. I have never excluded a candidate for... The thing that is... the thing that I want people to understand is that any hiring manager that A, knows what they're hiring for and B, is worth working for, does not give two shits. Whether it's a website, a pdf document, a powerpoint presentation, an email with links. It's not about the delivery

Heidi Kirby:
Yeah.

Tim Slade:
medium. It's about the samples of work. And

Heidi Kirby:
Yes.

Tim Slade:
yeah, it's great. In some instructional design you might need to know a little HTML and that's great, but that's certainly

Heidi Kirby:
Okay.

Tim Slade:
not all. In some instructional design jobs you might build really light SharePoint websites, but you're not developing websites. That's not a function of our job in most of our industry. And what's fascinating too is in all of this noise about portfolios and specifically portfolio websites, what I think a lot of people fail to recognize is if you went and looked If you went and surveyed 10 random actual working instructional designers, people who have been working in this industry for a period of time, I would make an educated guess that maybe a third or maybe a little bit more than a third of them actually have websites. The vast majority of people

Heidi Kirby:
Yeah.

Tim Slade:
who work in this industry don't have websites or portfolios. I mean they have

Heidi Kirby:
Correct.

Tim Slade:
examples of work, but they don't have portfolio websites. And they're doing just

Heidi Kirby:
Yeah,

Tim Slade:
fine.

Heidi Kirby:
yeah, I don't have a portfolio website.

Tim Slade:
There you go. Right.

Heidi Kirby:
I have, I used to,

Tim Slade:
Yeah.

Heidi Kirby:
and now it's just a link tree.

Tim Slade:
There you go.

Heidi Kirby:
Right?

Tim Slade:
I used

Heidi Kirby:
Like.

Tim Slade:
to have a CD that I burnt samples to. That was my

Heidi Kirby:
I

Tim Slade:
portfolio.

Heidi Kirby:
love it.

Tim Slade:
Yeah, and I would hand that out during

Heidi Kirby:
It's like

Tim Slade:
my

Heidi Kirby:
a mixtape.

Tim Slade:
interviews. It

Heidi Kirby:
Here,

Tim Slade:
was like my

Heidi Kirby:
future

Tim Slade:
e-learning

Heidi Kirby:
hiring

Tim Slade:
mixtape.

Heidi Kirby:
manager,

Tim Slade:
Yeah,

Heidi Kirby:
here's

Tim Slade:
that's

Heidi Kirby:
my

Tim Slade:
so true.

Heidi Kirby:
eLearning Love mixtape for you.

Tim Slade:
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

Heidi Kirby:
That's great. Yeah, so. If the container is not so important as what's in it, what's important about what's in it? I know you said already that it should show, you know, what you're good at, what you love to do, but like specifically, what are some, because I always get this question, what do I put in my portfolio?

Tim Slade:
That's a hard one because I think it's gonna be contextual to the individual and like I said, it's gonna depend on what you love and what you're good at, what you want to be hired for, and so I could give some different examples. Like, I'll speak for myself. What I love, what I'm good at, what I want to be hired for is creating highly interactive, visually engaging, digital learning experiences in Storyline Rise and Camtasia. That's where my things intersect. And so, if you were to go into my portfolio at TimSlade.com, you would see exactly that. And

Heidi Kirby:
Right.

Tim Slade:
so for me and my portfolio, I don't spend a lot of time talking about needs analysis because that's not what I want to be hired for. I don't spend a lot of time talking about evaluations because that's not what my niche is. But if you're new or you're trying to get into the industry for the first time or you're creating your first portfolio, I think what's important is that... you find a way to demonstrate your judgment as an instructional

Heidi Kirby:
Mm.

Tim Slade:
designer and your thinking process. Because

Heidi Kirby:
Yes.

Tim Slade:
if you're new, it's likely you're too early in your career journey to really start specializing like I specialize. And so whether you're developing an e-learning course to put in your portfolio or, you know, I think a lot of times people struggle with how to put non-e-learning examples in their portfolio or non-digital examples, even if it were

Heidi Kirby:
Mm-hmm.

Tim Slade:
an instructor-led thing. You want to describe to a prospective hiring manager Your thinking process behind why you created the project what problem it was solving how you went about analyzing that problem how your solution addresses it and fits within the variables that you know whether it's hypothetical or real the variables you're facing with your audience and the organization and Outcomes you're seeking to achieve you want to describe your judgment That's what I think a hiring manager is really looking for in addition to the actual thing that you produce the quality of that You know and we

Heidi Kirby:
Right.

Tim Slade:
can talk about that as well. Does that make sense?

Heidi Kirby:
Yeah, no, absolutely. I completely agree. One of the things I'm always telling people is if you just give me a bunch of finished products, especially if you're new and trying to get into the field, right? What am I supposed to do with that? It doesn't give me any indication of how long it took you. I don't know. This video could have taken you eight weeks to make. And as a hiring manager, if I don't know that, if I don't have some idea of your process, it's a risk for me to hire you. And I think people don't really think in terms of. business risk when they create their portfolios, right? And I think it's really important because as a hiring manager, I have to look at that. And so if I'm saying I need three years of experience in the field, it's because it is too risky for me to hire somebody who is brand new. You know, we see all this toxic positivity shit on LinkedIn about, well, if you just have a good heart and you're just willing

Tim Slade:
Just

Heidi Kirby:
to learn and...

Tim Slade:
smile enough and you have a good personality. Yeah,

Heidi Kirby:
Right,

Tim Slade:
right. Yeah

Heidi Kirby:
and I love that. Like, listen,

Tim Slade:
Yeah

Heidi Kirby:
I love people and I love helping people and I love helping people find their first job in the industry. However, there are roles where the business does not care how much heart you have. My current company is one of those companies where we're in the tech industry, we're moving at a breakneck speed. If you can't keep up with the pace of the products we're releasing, you know, I don't have time to teach someone to use Camtasia or to create videos, right? So I need to be confident that you already have those skills. And just showing me a bunch of finished products doesn't instill that confidence. Like I need to see your process.

Tim Slade:
I think one of the things I tell a lot of the people that I mentor and I coach is that you have to get really clear and honest with yourself about... One of the things I talk about is understanding the boundaries of your skill set at any

Heidi Kirby:
Mm.

Tim Slade:
given moment. And when I say the boundaries, I'm talking about you need to be able to clearly articulate what you are capable of right now and

Heidi Kirby:
Yeah.

Tim Slade:
what you're not capable of right now. So that when you go into an interview or when you're applying for a job, you can evaluate whether or not you're a good candidate for it. and articulate to that hiring manager what you are and aren't capable of and have that self-awareness. And part of that means recognizing that you're just not gonna be the right person for every job and you shouldn't be applying for

Heidi Kirby:
Yes.

Tim Slade:
every job because some jobs, to your point, some jobs, right, wrong, or otherwise, and I'm not gonna say it's wrong, this is just a reality, don't have time to hold your hand. They don't have time to take a risk on an entry level candidate, and that's okay because that's the nature of business. And part of the job seeking process is to find those jobs, if you're brand new,

Heidi Kirby:
Yeah.

Tim Slade:
that are looking for that. And that does exist out there, but it's not every

Heidi Kirby:
It does.

Tim Slade:
job.

Heidi Kirby:
Yeah, it absolutely does exist. And you make such a good point that every role is not for you. And I think that sometimes we find people and my mom, my sister, my best friends are all K through 12 educators. And we find these people that are so desperate to get out of there. so desperate to get out of the classroom that they're like, no, I'll take any job. And it's like, no, because that's not, I post about this periodically because it's so true and it resonates with so many people. Finding a new job, changing careers is not going to fix what's broken inside of you. If you have been, had the shit beat out of you by the public education system, and how they treat teachers, getting a new higher paying job will help a little bit. It might alleviate some of that, but it's not gonna fix what happened to you, right? Like that has to happen outside.

Tim Slade:
Sure, yeah. Yeah, speaking of teachers, one of the things I say to them when I speak to them is you have to, your reason for leaving teaching and wanting to move in instructional design, you need to be able to articulate not why you're running away from teaching, but why

Heidi Kirby:
Hmm.

Tim Slade:
are you running towards instructional design?

Heidi Kirby:
Yeah.

Tim Slade:
Especially when there's so many teachers right now, I don't wanna say saturating the market, but you're competing against a lot of other people who are in

Heidi Kirby:
Yes.

Tim Slade:
the same boat as you. Hiring managers, aren't interested in hearing why you're running away from teaching. They understand it. A lot of them do. Some of them don't.

Heidi Kirby:
Yeah.

Tim Slade:
But they want to know why you're running towards instructional design.

Heidi Kirby:
Yeah,

Tim Slade:
Yeah.

Heidi Kirby:
absolutely. Because I've entered so many conversations with people who thought they wanted to be in instructional design. And then as I just start asking them quite basic questions, one of the things I ask is, what did you like most about teaching? And a lot of times I would get the answer, oh, I love the light bulb moment. And I was like, do not go into instructional design then, because you'll never see the light bulb moment.

Tim Slade:
Yeah,

Heidi Kirby:
And

Tim Slade:
no,

Heidi Kirby:
there's

Tim Slade:
because

Heidi Kirby:
just.

Tim Slade:
you don't ever see your learners, barely.

Heidi Kirby:
Yeah, right. So there's just little things like that where it's like, no, no, I don't think you want to be in this field. And like, I have no problem telling people that and like sending them to where I think they want to go. And I've talked to people who thought they wanted to be an ID who ended up in sales who ended up in like CS, I'm sorry, customer success roles, you know, in in web development. You know, I bought a bunch of ID books that I didn't have yet off of somebody who thought they wanted to be an ID and then went and did coding instead. So you know it's you before you build a portfolio are you sure this is what you want to do?

Tim Slade:
You're absolutely right. And that's another pet peeve I've noticed recently in the last couple of years is that there's, you know, there's so much noise about portfolio websites and there's also so much noise about. just being instructional designers, if that's the only role that exists within workplace or corporate L&D, there's so many other roles, facilitation roles, L&D learning program management, LMS administration, just even being a support role in helping the operations of a learning department. I just think about, when I used to manage my team at GoDaddy and the larger L&D team, there were such a diverse set of roles that. Instructional design was only like 25% of that department. There's so many other opportunities besides just instructional design.

Heidi Kirby:
And instructional design is like the, I won't say the only, because I think sometimes maybe like your learning program managers and such would require work samples, but like it's one of the, it's probably the position where that's the most common to require work samples. Like if you wanna be an organizational development specialist or an LMS admin, like

Tim Slade:
leadership

Heidi Kirby:
learning

Tim Slade:
I'd

Heidi Kirby:
ops,

Tim Slade:
even think

Heidi Kirby:
like

Tim Slade:
of that

Heidi Kirby:
you don't

Tim Slade:
yeah

Heidi Kirby:
need a portfolio.

Tim Slade:
no not at all not at all you're absolutely right and so I wish I wish to your point I wish more people spent some more time not listening to the noise, but researching

Heidi Kirby:
Yeah.

Tim Slade:
really what they want and really researching our industry outside of those talking heads, including myself,

Heidi Kirby:
Yes.

Tim Slade:
I'm a talking head

Heidi Kirby:
Yeah.

Tim Slade:
on YouTube or on LinkedIn and really dig into it to understand what opportunities are out there, what they really wanna do. My fear is, my biggest fear for people is when they contrive themselves into a box and then they go into, they contrive themselves onto their portfolio. creating what they think they're supposed to be doing and then they go into an interview process and create this fake person of themselves.

Heidi Kirby:
Yes.

Tim Slade:
What happens when you get hired as that fake thing you

Heidi Kirby:
Yes.

Tim Slade:
created because then you're expected to show up to that nine-to-five every day. You're just you're creating another toxic situation for yourself.

Heidi Kirby:
Right. 100%. And I think that that's like, we're not here to complain about portfolio websites, right? Like, that is not the purpose of this episode. It's that we both genuinely want to help people in our fields, right? And exactly what you said is the risk, right? Like, if I just take a template from Webflow and a template from Canva and a template from Rise, and I throw them all together in a website, And I call myself an instructional designer. And I get hired. And I am faced with a situation where they say, hey, this is a real life situation. I'm faced with a situation where they say, hey, welcome, new instructional designer. We just spent all of our consulting dollars for this training for this new HRAS system for our 1,500 person company. You're now going to be responsible for training all of our 1,500 employees. Some are here at corporate, some are remote, and some work in warehouses. Congrats. figure it out. How am I going to be able to do that with my knowledge of filling out templates?

Tim Slade:
Exactly, and having learned, and sometimes people spend thousands and thousands of dollars to learn how to build a website for their, that's

Heidi Kirby:
Yeah.

Tim Slade:
not going to prepare you for the actual job. And so I think, and I think the other thing too, as I'm feeling, thinking about our conversation, I can already hear people describing this conversation as gatekeeping or as a form of gatekeeping. And I'm not gonna lie, like I think some gatekeeping, is healthy, not to keep people out, that's not the intention, but to help people realize the reality of what you're getting into before you get into it so that

Heidi Kirby:
Yes.

Tim Slade:
you don't get yourself in a sticky situation later.

Heidi Kirby:
100%. Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, there's, there's people who have said, Oh, you know, you're a gatekeeper. Oh, um, what are they like a limited mindset?

Tim Slade:
limited

Heidi Kirby:
Like what is

Tim Slade:
beliefs

Heidi Kirby:
it?

Tim Slade:
or limited

Heidi Kirby:
Limited

Tim Slade:
thinking.

Heidi Kirby:
belief system. Yes. But like for me, um, I believe in being kind. even if that means sometimes not being nice, right? Like I want to tell you how it is. Like I want you to know that it is not common for someone starting out in ID to make six figures because

Tim Slade:
or achieve

Heidi Kirby:
I

Tim Slade:
financial

Heidi Kirby:
want

Tim Slade:
freedom.

Heidi Kirby:
you, yes, financial, what is that? I work, I am a manager of instructional designers and I work three jobs.

Tim Slade:
Yeah, right.

Heidi Kirby:
Like. Financial freedom is not in my wheelhouse yet,

Tim Slade:
Yeah.

Heidi Kirby:
especially with student loans and stuff.

Tim Slade:
Right.

Heidi Kirby:
So it's not a matter of trying to keep people out of this field. And you have too. So many people get their foot in the door in this field. But I want people to understand what they're getting into. And I want them to have. good expectations and not be blindsided and not be turning their wheels eight months from now going, oh my God, why can't I find a job?

Tim Slade:
Yeah, yeah, my response to that is it's not, it's not, we're not promoting limited thinking or limited beliefs, we're promoting not magical thinking.

Heidi Kirby:
Yes.

Tim Slade:
And to your point, healthy, good expectations, and I think people, If you can, if you're brand new to the industry, and you can find that opportunity that does exist out there looking for whatever skillset you have in a place where you can be nurtured and grow and be successful, you're gonna be so much happier in the long term than trying to fake your way into a job or position that you're truly not prepared for. And I just think that's being pragmatic, in my opinion.

Heidi Kirby:
Yeah, yeah,

Tim Slade:
Yeah.

Heidi Kirby:
absolutely. So I wanna get a little bit more specific into

Tim Slade:
Okay.

Heidi Kirby:
like work sample questions. A lot of people ask me if I don't have any work samples, right? I'm new to the field. I haven't really done much. I've done stuff in the classroom. That's really all I have. What do I do? What do I create? What do I make to show my skills?

Tim Slade:
This is an issue that people have, regardless of whether you're brand new and have no actual work samples, or you're super experienced and have tons of work

Heidi Kirby:
Yeah.

Tim Slade:
samples. Even if you're experienced and have tons of work samples, nine times out of 10, you can't share those work samples anyways because they're proprietary. And so,

Heidi Kirby:
Yeah.

Tim Slade:
again, it goes back to my point, any hiring manager that's worth working for and understands the industry, they're going to be forgiving of the fact that you can't share what you've worked on. And besides the fact, designers nine to five like 99% of the time what I what we do isn't portfolio worthy anyways because it's not that exciting like nobody wants

Heidi Kirby:
I'm

Tim Slade:
to

Heidi Kirby:
sorry.

Tim Slade:
see some of the work that we do because it's boring

Heidi Kirby:
It's very true.

Tim Slade:
you know

Heidi Kirby:
That's...yeah.

Tim Slade:
and and so I'm a big proponent of creating your own work samples and I'll tell you why I think it can be just as telling if not more telling how good your instructional design skills are, when you can do anything you want to do, when you're not under the constraints of a subject matter expert or stakeholder pooh-poohing

Heidi Kirby:
Yeah.

Tim Slade:
on your work, when you have the ability to create a sample project on anything from leadership skills to how to get away with farting in public, whatever the topic is. Like,

Heidi Kirby:
I love

Tim Slade:
if you

Heidi Kirby:
it.

Tim Slade:
have complete creative control and you can do anything. then I think that's really telling. And so, I'm a big proponent of creating your own work samples and it's not about the topic, it's about how you teach whatever it is you're teaching and the problem

Heidi Kirby:
Yes.

Tim Slade:
you're trying to solve.

Heidi Kirby:
Yes, I think that's a really good point because I think I see some very bad topics. And let me explain what I mean by that. I see things that, you know, okay, I'm given complete creative freedom, but I'm going to default to using Rise or Storyline and create a learning project on, hmm, what do I find fun? Let's see. so much in my English classes that I've taught, making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, right? And now I've got a full-fledged 60-slide e-learning course on making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Guess who's not gonna hire you? This hiring manager right here, because what you've done is you've worried about the tool. So, you're gonna hire me. I'm gonna hire you. more than the problem you're trying to solve. If I'm going to make something, what is the easiest thing for me to do? I'll give you a clue. It's not go to a recipe website and have to scroll for three years. Ha ha ha.

Tim Slade:
Well, you know what I tell people about topics is, you can pick whatever topic you want, even if it's a ridiculous topic.

Heidi Kirby:
Yeah.

Tim Slade:
But if you're gonna make an e-learning course out of it, the question I always ask people, why would you teach this in an e-learning format?

Heidi Kirby:
Yes.

Tim Slade:
What variables or constraints would need to exist for that to be fit for function? And because as a hiring manager, I would never learn how to make a peanut butter jelly with an e-learning course, I would just.

Heidi Kirby:
No.

Tim Slade:
fucking make it, you know what I mean? And you know what I mean? So it's more than just, how did you use Serticulate Storyline? It goes back to that judgment, the judgment of why was this an e-learning course? Everything has to be intentional in that sense.

Heidi Kirby:
100%. Yeah. You have to, and that doesn't mean that you have to have an e-learning sample on

Tim Slade:
No.

Heidi Kirby:
your, as part of your portfolio. You can do whatever you want. In fact, a lot of times people ask me like, hey, I did this thing and it's either like in an LMS or it's in like a unfriendly format to share. And then I always say, well, why don't you just grab Loom and sign in there and do like a screenshot video of you presenting and talking about it. That way you can give the context you can give as much content Context as you want and it's not like a wall of text coming at you And then you've also shown not only did you make this thing, but you can also use loom You can also use this product that captures your screen. And it's showing the versatility. And so anytime you can combine different tools like that too. Oh, I made this animation in Adobe, but I've now put it into this Camtasia video. Anytime you can combine things like that too, I think that's really powerful.

Tim Slade:
Yeah, I give a really great example from my own experience. One of the things that I did in my very first instructional design job was we did a lot of print production. Because we would design things in InDesign and have them printed, whether it was manuals or books or best practices.

Heidi Kirby:
Yeah.

Tim Slade:
And they would get, this was at Kohl's, they'd get sent out to the stores. And so when I created my very first portfolio, my very first portfolio wasn't a website. It was a document that I designed in PowerPoint and I went and had printed, and it explained my instructional design process and all of that stuff. And then that's where I would burn onto a CD, my work samples and paste it onto the back. But what it did is it wasn't necessarily about the document itself, but it was the demonstration of like, oh, he knows graphic design.

Heidi Kirby:
Yeah.

Tim Slade:
and printed. And then he also has these great examples and it was a tangible thing that set myself apart. You know, and to your point, even if it's just a loom video, I promise you a lot of hiring managers don't see candidates

Heidi Kirby:
Yeah.

Tim Slade:
sharing work like that or what a creative way to showcase your skills, you know, in an unconventional way. Yeah.

Heidi Kirby:
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah, early in my career, I made like a montage of different work that I'd done and just like strung it together over music in Camtasia. It's probably, looking back on it, it could have used some work. But it did showcase all of the different tools that I knew how to use and it got me a job. You

Tim Slade:
Well,

Heidi Kirby:
know,

Tim Slade:
can

Heidi Kirby:
like.

Tim Slade:
we, yeah, well, before we wrap up, there's another thing I wanna say about portfolios too that you kind of reached, you just spoke on. You said it probably wasn't that good. One of the things too I wanna emphasize for people about their portfolios is the, whether you're creating an e-learning course, your first storyline project, your first whatever, first Camtasia video, whatever you're creating. So, I'm gonna go ahead and start with the first one. It may not feel this way in the moment, but you should look back on it six months from now or a year from now and go, God, what the hell was I thinking? That's awful.

Heidi Kirby:
Yes.

Tim Slade:
And I see so many people get stuck trying to create the most perfect thing that they never actually create anything and actually

Heidi Kirby:
Yes.

Tim Slade:
progress. And so the other thing I want people to recognize is that when you create your portfolio, I always tell the people that I coach and mentor, you're gonna have to create a bunch of ugly e-learning babies before you create pretty e-learning babies. You just gotta get it done, because that's what your skills are capable of in that moment.

Heidi Kirby:
Absolutely. And I often share the first storyline project, quote unquote,

Tim Slade:
Yeah.

Heidi Kirby:
I ever did that is garbage with

Tim Slade:
Minus

Heidi Kirby:
people

Tim Slade:
two.

Heidi Kirby:
just to show them. And

Tim Slade:
Yeah.

Heidi Kirby:
I used to share like a high school essay I wrote when I was teaching college English, just to show like we all start somewhere, right? And there's progress to be made. And like, if you're not looking back on things that you've worked on two years ago, in the same way that you look back on clothing you wore two years ago and go, Oh, what was that? thinking

Tim Slade:
then you didn't grow.

Heidi Kirby:
then you didn't grow yeah

Tim Slade:
Yeah.

Heidi Kirby:
exactly

Tim Slade:
Yeah, yeah,

Heidi Kirby:
yeah

Tim Slade:
totally. I, yeah, I, and, and I think the, it's that and then also stop comparing yourself to others along the way, because you're,

Heidi Kirby:
Yes.

Tim Slade:
there's always gonna be somebody doing it better than you. And,

Heidi Kirby:
There is.

Tim Slade:
and you shouldn't let that stop you from creating whatever it is you're gonna create.

Heidi Kirby:
Absolutely. Yeah.

Tim Slade:
Yeah.

Heidi Kirby:
So typically this is the point in the show where I say, oh, if there's one resource that you could recommend for people wanting to build a portfolio, what would it be and why? But I already have the resource that I want to talk about

Tim Slade:
Okay.

Heidi Kirby:
and that's your free community. So just

Tim Slade:
Oh,

Heidi Kirby:
tell

Tim Slade:
sure.

Heidi Kirby:
me a little bit about that. I think that's the best resource here.

Tim Slade:
Yeah, so the community inside the eLearning Designers Academy, it's 100% free, it's open to anybody, and my goal was and is to create a place where new instructional designers and new eLearning developers can come and grow and learn together. And it's, you know, my motto that I always tell people is, my focus is on helping people build their careers, but by building skills first, because nothing

Heidi Kirby:
Yes.

Tim Slade:
else matters if you don't have the skills. It's not about keyword stuffing your resume or your LinkedIn profile. It's about skills, because that's what hiring managers are looking for. So that's what we focus on.

Heidi Kirby:
I love it.

Tim Slade:
Thank

Heidi Kirby:
Perfect.

Tim Slade:
you.

Heidi Kirby:
This feels like it went way too fast, but

Tim Slade:
I know.

Heidi Kirby:
hopefully there's a lot of good stuff in here for people who've been struggling with the portfolio process. So thanks so much for finally joining me on the Block Team.

Tim Slade:
Yeah, thanks for having me, Heidi.