Evolution of an eLearning Designer: How Social Media Advanced My Career

I’ve started off 2012 on a great foot: at a new job at Langevin Learning Services. I can’t believe how much my career has evolved over the last few years, and how much I’m learning every day. The more I’ve thought about how it came to be that I landed my current gig at Langevin, the more I realize how much social media has played a key role in making it happen. In all probability, it never would have happened without social media.

We’ve all read the news articles about how social media is being used for recruitment, and about how employers are moving away from traditional resumes and focusing on a candidates’ online personality and contributions. My story is a perfect illustration of how developing an online identity can really get your name out there, help you gain great exposure and maybe even land you a job! I’ve decided to write a blog post about how I developed my personal social media identity, and how that helped me land my current gig. Here are the top three factors:

Growing my LinkedIn network

One of the earliest and most important aspects of my “social media identity” is my LinkedIn profile. Several years ago, on the direction of a former boss, I signed up for a LinkedIn account and took the time to completely fill it out. This was when I was at my first job, fresh out of university. I remember thinking how bare my job experience looked and what few connections I had.

Over the years, this has definitely changed. I think that’s because I’ve taken the time to craft (what I hope is) a thorough resume that has a personal touch, but still represents all my relevant work experiences and skills. I keep it as current as possible. I post original, business related status updates from time to time. I really make an effort to have a LinkedIn profile that looks “neat” and visually attractive. I’ve expanded my LinkedIn network over the years through meeting new people as well as by connecting with other instructional design and eLearning professionals through LinkedIn groups and through my Twitter account.

Speaking of Twitter…

Getting on Twitter and expanding my  following 

The reason I ended up on Twitter is kind of a fluke; I was working at my second job, a small high-tech company, and we were at a round-table meeting discussing social media. One of the project managers mentioned she needed someone to start Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts for the company. She looked around the table for volunteers. I was the only one who knew what Twitter was. Kidding, but really I was the only one at the table with an actual Twitter account (although at this point I wasn’t really using my Twitter account; I had mostly just signed up out of curiosity to check it out and I didn’t “get it” right away). Anyhow, I jumped all over the chance to be “social media coordinator”. Luckily for me, everyone else was really busy with their projects and/or not that interested in social media, so I didn’t have any competition for this awesome role! I was thinking “I can actually be paid to be on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn at work? SWEET!” (or something along those lines). 

All joking aside, I took on my new social media role pretty seriously and learned many tricks of the trade (it sounds  so cliché, but it’s true!). Eventually, with a lot of new knowledge about social media under my belt, I really expanded my own personal/professional Twitter profile and network. I broke through the 1000 follower barrier recently, which was a great milestone for me.

Finally, one of the most important things I have done with regards to my social media identity has been…

Starting my blog

Writing this blog has been really fun for me, but more importantly, a great learning experience. When I first thought of starting an eLearning or instructional design-related blog, I wasn’t sure if I should. “Do I really know enough to write about this stuff?” is what I originally thought. I’ve always really enjoyed reading and writing, but there are so many well-written and informative blogs out there. I wasn’t sure I’d have the pizzazz required to make a blog stand out amongst thousands. Also, I had heard of WordPress but for some reason it sounded like some intense, difficult to learn application. (Haha! Crazy, I know. I figured out the interface in about an hour, maybe less!)

Eventually I decided I was just going to do it! I needed an outlet for my writing and to share my graphics and artwork. I decided that I don’t have to write authoritative white papers on eLearning and instructional design, or anything like that. Instead, my blog has a casual tone to it and I write about my own personal learning experiences relating to eLearning, social media, graphic design and more. I write about discoveries I’ve made and new things I’ve learned as I follow this intriguing career path. I’m usually inspired to write blog posts after I encounter a problem or a question while I’m working.

How did all of these things help me land my job at Langevin?

Last fall I started following an instructional designer at Langevin Learning Services, Karen, on Twitter and LinkedIn, and she followed me back. Eventually, she subscribed to my blog, which I was pretty stoked about. She had been following my blog for a month or two when I wrote a review of a Langevin Learning Services workshop I took a few years ago. (Instructional Design for New Designers is the workshop, and you can read the review here). The reason I wrote the review was that I actually thought the workshop was terrific.  Ever since I took it I’ve been raving to my instructional designer friends how good the workshop was, how much I learned, etc. One night, I needed a topic for my blog and I realized that I should write a review of the workshop I had attended. So I wrote the review and hit publish! I made sure to send the link to Karen on Twitter, since it was good PR for them! I wasn’t expecting anything more to come from it.

A few weeks later, I got a direct message from Karen asking me if I would be interested in doing the pre-screening/interviewing for an Instructional Design position at the company. She had scoped me out on Twitter and LinkedIn, and she knew I had some writing skills and interest in learning new things, thanks to my blog. Of course, the review I had written and the fact I had taken one of their workshops played well in my favour.  I jumped at the opportunity to work somewhere that I knew would challenge me and stretch me to my full potential. Fast forward a few months, I got the job! Now I’ve been settled in for a few months and I couldn’t be happier.

That is my tale of how social media helped me land my current job. My story goes to show how important a personal social media identity or “brand” is in 2012. Personally, I enjoy Twitter, LinkedIn and writing my blog so much that it doesn’t ever feel like a drag, or like extra work. This is how I know that I’m in the right field!

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4 Comments on “Evolution of an eLearning Designer: How Social Media Advanced My Career”

  1. blarysblog says:

    In such a technological age as we are currently living in, I hesitate to put myself “out there” as you so bravely have done. I have received the invitation to try out the LinkedIn system but began to wonder about having all that information floating around the internet. I’m so paranoid and I’m not sure why! I will say, however, that your story inspires me to rethink my position on social media’s role in getting one’s name and qualifications out to be noticed. I reside in a small town and truthfully started my graduate work in Instructional Design and Technology by mistake. I thought I was starting a program in which several people I knew had already received their Masters degrees. It was during my first course, that I realized they had degrees in Integrating Technology (within their classrooms). While dismayed at first, I have embraced my mistake and look forward to a new career that will take me out of the elementary classroom. My concern has been how that will happen when I finish my program; you have given me one possibility.

  2. sandrablaize says:

    Response to Blarysblog.
    One of your reviewed blogs that I found interesting was “Flirting w/eLearning. The author stated that the social media helped her career. I agree with you that the blog is easy to read. The print is regular size and the words used would not send the average reader running for the dictionary. I found information presented very interesting since I can relate with the way the author felt. I was impressed to read the entire post by Chistinaskybox because I wanted to know how the social media can help me with my career. Firstly she talked about LinkedIn. This is an important site. I remember that I had a talk with a career advisor who said that with present times job market it can be invaluable to be part of that site where one network and connect with others.
    The author explained that she was a little scared to start a blog. As you noted, she stated, that she did not have “pizzazz”. The reason that I was hesitant to start a blog is because of a lack of experience with Internet applications. For example, I went ahead and after many tries got my blog going. I was able to post my first blog. Now it seems as if every other activity that I have to do is a challenge. I have been reading all that I can on the Internet to resolve my problems.
    I will continue to post on my blog as time goes by. Many individuals have shown that blogging is a good way to express oneself and to improve on ones writing skills.
    Renee while reading you response to the blog I noticed that you sign up for the class by mistake. That must be a shock. I taught elementary school for a while and have been wanting to work with adults for a long time. I was very excited when I learned about Instructional Design. I hope that we can continue to blog and learn new things about the Instructional Design field.

  3. I can really relate to your blog Nicole. I am an adult educator and my fields of expertise are instructional design, IT training (software) and literacy numeracy. I’ve had Facebook and Linkedin accounts for awhile and more recently have ventured into Twitter, Pinterest, and am learning WordPress and have just published my first blog – just putting my toes in the water to see how it feels”. Like you, I love technology, and as well being able to express my thoughts and ideas in writing, I also want to build my social media profile.

    Yours is an inspiring success story – I look forward to reading more!

    Michelle

    • Nicole Legault says:

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment Michelle. It’s nice to hear from other people who are in the same field/going through similar things. I’ve already checked out your Linked In profile and your blog and it looks awesome!! I think the hardest part for a lot of people is getting started and you’ve already overcome that hurdle!! Also look forward to seeing more on your blog!


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