Adapting Resumes from Teaching to Instructional Design

Principles and examples for adapting resumes from teaching to instructional design so hiring managers clearly see the relevant skills

Over the years, a number of teachers interested in transitioning to instructional design careers have reached out to me. Specifically, they often have questions about how to adapt their resumes. Teachers already have many relevant skills for instructional design, but they don’t always know how to convey that to employers. When adapting resumes for instructional design jobs, it’s important to focus on experiences like curriculum creation and collaboration rather than teaching.

Adapting Resumes from Teaching to Instructional Design

Principles for Adapting Resumes for Instructional Design

List writing, lesson planning, and content creation first

Switch the order in which you talk about your skills and accomplishments. Instead of starting with teaching and training (even though those are the skills you use the most), put creating lesson plans and curriculum first. Emphasize all the points about writing over the ones about being in the classroom.

Say more about lesson planning and curriculum creation

You can probably reduce how much detail you spend on the actual teaching and focus more on the lesson plan creation. In many respects, it’s more important that you created curriculum and lesson plans to meet objectives and give students opportunities to practice skills. The fact that you then taught those lessons you created is secondary.

Use active verbs

Use active verbs to describe how you “designed,” “created,” or “wrote” lesson plans and “developed” curriculum, activities, and handouts.

Include objectives and assessment

Consider including how you wrote objectives and assessed student performance in meeting those objectives. Assessment is another transferable skill you can highlight.

Mention collaborative development

Talk about collaborative work. Committees are OK, but collaborative curriculum design is better if you have that kind of experience. Unlike teachers (who may work in isolation or with a high degree of independence), instructional designers nearly always collaborate with subject matter experts (for workplace training) or faculty (in higher ed).

De-emphasize or eliminate course info

If your current resume talks about specific courses you taught, de-emphasize or remove that. However, you might include it for certain jobs if that subject matter is relevant. For example, a science teacher applying for a health care job, a Spanish teacher applying at a global organization, or an art teacher applying for a job requiring strong visual communication skills. Even then, hiring managers generally care about the high level subject (science, Spanish, art) rather than the names of the courses.

Remove or reduce standards

If your current resume mentions specific state or national standards that you are meeting, remove or reduce that, especially for workplace training jobs. Standards might be relevant for some highly regulated industries (e.g., finance or pharmacy) or for higher ed jobs where you need to meet accreditation standards. It’s not the specific standards that matter. It’s the fact that you’re used to aligning your instruction and assessment to meet external guidelines.

Example Revision

Original version

As an example, let’s look at how my resume evolved over the years. My summary for my first teaching job was pretty much just a list of what I taught, and therefore not very effective.

Music and Band Teacher

  • General Music: Kindergarten, 1st, 3rd, and 5th grades
  • 5th grade Beginner Band and small group lessons
  • Junior High Band
  • High School Band, High School Music Appreciation and High School Pep Band

Revision Step 1: Summarize teaching

First, I summarized all of that teaching into a single bullet point.

  • Taught General Music, Band, and Music Appreciation for Kindergarten through High School

Revision Step 2: Expand curriculum creation

Next, I added a bullet point about curriculum I created. The new bullet point comes first.

  • Designed curriculum for a pilot high school Music Appreciation class, including readings, review worksheets, quizzes, tests, and group projects for engaged learning
  • Taught General Music, Band, and Music Appreciation for Kindergarten through High School

Repeat the process for each teaching position

I followed a similar process for my second teaching position.

Music, Band, and Choir Teacher

  • Developed curriculum in collaboration with other teachers in the Specials team to ensure consistency and alignment with long-term goals
  • Measured student achievement of objectives
  • Revised plans in response to assessment of student understanding
  • Adapted instructional materials to meet varied needs, including learning disabilities
  • Provided technical assistance to fellow teachers using Excel, Word, and PowerPoint
  • Taught General Music, Band, and Chorus classes for 5th through 8th Grade

Music and Band TeacherĀ 

  • Designed curriculum for a pilot high school Music Appreciation class, including readings, review worksheets, quizzes, tests, and group projects for engaged learning
  • Taught General Music, Band, and Music Appreciation for Kindergarten through High School

Example phrases for relevant skills

I have also used phrases like this to describe relevant skills from teaching. You can use these as a starting point to reframe your own experience when adapting your resume.

  • Researched best practices in education to continually improve teaching.
  • Designed and implemented curriculum for multiple classes for varied age and ability levels.
  • Assessed student understanding and adapted instructional materials to meet varied needs.
  • Translated long-term goals into daily objectives.

Looking for more tips?

Originally published 9/26/2017. Revised and republished 6/1/2021.

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