Instructional design jobs are out there, but many ID professionals find themselves without work, doing pro-bono until they ultimately lose interest in the field. The sad thing is, many IDers have the ability to improve their chances at landing contract work, even full-time engagements, if they just altered their approach.
Here is some food for thought…
As we know in our industry, their are many different facets that make up “instructional design” of which the everyday person may not be aware. It is kind of like saying all “engineers” are the same. Engineer is the category, but there are many sub-niches within (electircal, mechanical, civil, etc.) and even niches within those!
If you are looking for contract work, you need to search job boards (yes, boards with a “s”…) with this idea in mind: not everyone is going to call what it is you do by the same name.
For example, if you are just searching for job postings listed as “instructional design”, you are missing some great positions out there.
Get creative with what you search for on the boards. What do other people call “instructional design”? I have seen it referred to by many as “training developer”, or “training manager”… sometimes they are even more specific as “eLearning developer”, or “computer based training”.
The point is, you should use variations, putting yourself in the shoes of the job poster who many not know anything about instructional design. I know that I sometimes tell people I am involved with instructional design and they look at me like I have two heads. Or that I am working on a WordPress Learning Management System (you should see the blank stares from my family on that one).
While we are on the topic of job searches, do yourself a favor and use the advanced search function. You will be amazed at how much more refined your results are (and often times, how many more “direct hits” you receive) just by adding some additional specification. Most job boards have an advanced search link located on the homepage under the normal SEARCH button.
I have no doubt you will find what you are looking for just by thinking outside of the box on possible position titles and by focusing the results using the advanced search function. I use this strategy and continue to find really great positions out there.
In the near future, I will provide some insight on how to stand out from your competition when applying to ID roles.