About six weeks ago, I added a new feature to my sidebar: an Ask A Question button. This idea was mentioned on Problogger as a way to promote your blog, find out what content is actually relevant to your readers, and improve interaction and community. Since I was already getting a number of questions in comments, I thought I’d try this out to see what kind of questions I received.
Last week, I got a great question from Robert K.:
So my question is, are there instructional design companies that will let you work remotely to some degree or do most require you to be in office to interact with SME’s or other office staff?
The short answer to his question is yes, it is possible. It can take more work to find the right fit, but you absolutely can work from home.
I work 100% from home, although I will admit that it’s rare to find salaried positions that are 100% telecommute. But yes, some companies will let you work from home all the time, and many more will let you do so some of the time. For example, during one contract, I worked from home 3 days a week. One of my friends at that job worked most days from home; she even got permission to work only half days, all of it from home, for several weeks when her daughter was sick and needed extra care.
A Google search for “‘instructional designer’ telecommute” returns over 18,000 hits, so there are things out there. You do have to hunt a bit more though, especially if you want to work completely from home. I’ve been recruited in the past for jobs that required travel at the beginning and end of a project, plus perhaps occasionally during, but otherwise you could work from home. I’m not sure whether you can do any travel in your situation or if limited travel would be acceptable.
Dice and Craigslist both let you restrict your search to telecommute positions, although there isn’t a good way to do a national search on Craigslist. WAHM does a pretty good job of compiling new telecommute jobs from multiple sources, even if it isn’t the easiest site to navigate. You can use the Find command on your browser to search for “instructional” on the page with their job listings.
Especially for someone looking for telecommute positions, I would suggest looking at online schools and publishing companies.
- Online colleges and universities, including community colleges, may be more likely to have telecommute opportunities. These are organizations who are used to having instructors work virtually, which makes it easier for other employees to telecommute too.
- Research the online K-12 environment. This is an area with a lot of projected growth, so those companies will be hiring. The same goes for K-12 schools as higher ed; if other employees are already telecommuting, the infrastructure, policies, and organizational culture already support it.
- Check out publishing companies; they are all doing a lot of e-learning now. Publishing companies should be more accustomed to telecommute work; after all, they don’t have all their authors working in cubicles.
Update 1/21/13: A recent discussion in a LinkedIn group turned up the names of several contracting companies that hire IDs, and some of those positions are telecommute or partial telecommute. I have also heard of a few other places since I first wrote this post.
- Clarity Consultants hires a lot of instructional designers. I’ve only interacted with them minimally; I was never really looking when contacted me. Some people said they had trouble getting much response when they were looking for work. Check their job postings though.
- The Cara Group is another company that hires a lot of IDs. They are focused on human performance jobs, so it’s not just a general contracting company. I haven’t worked for them (timing was never right), but I’ve talked with a recruiter extensively, and they seem like a good place to work through.
- The person who mentioned Intrepid Learning in the discussion said they don’t have steady work, but they do hire telecommute IDs for projects.
- MTS Technologies was listed as hiring only part-time IDs.
- FlexJobs is a paid job search site that covers all industries, but only telecommute or flexible positions. I haven’t used it myself, but someone I worked with at Cisco has had great luck finding long-term contracts via this site.
- Type A Learning Agency contacted me a few years ago. It didn’t pan out, but it appears they are always accepting applications for freelance instructional designers and developers.
- I have completed several projects with Cine Learning. Cine Learning is focused on story-based development, so if you hate writing scenarios, don’t bother contacting them. They may not always be hiring, but their projects are really interesting and rewarding.
General Job Searching
For all that the big job boards (i.e., Monster & Careerbuilder) get dinged, I personally found them to be helpful. I’ve gotten jobs through both Monster and Careerbuilder, as well as the eLearning Guild’s job board. Certainly networking is still important and online job boards shouldn’t be your only strategy, but there seemed to be a lot of recruiters looking for IDs on Careerbuilder two years ago. Posting your resume wouldn’t take too much time, and it would make you more visible.
Curt Bonk assembled a terrific list of resources for finding instructional technology jobs.
I think anyone who is looking for a job should be on LinkedIn. It lets you build your network and see how you’re connected to companies you might like to work for. Although the author of Linked Intelligence isn’t updating much anymore, the archives of this blog have great information on how to use LinkedIn.
Don’t write off the general contracting companies like TEKsystems, Insight Global, etc., either. My partial telecommute work at Cisco for two years was through TEKsystems.
What advice would you give to someone looking for a telecommute instructional design job? Are there resources I should have suggested but left off my list? I know my list is fairly US-centric; I’m just not at all familiar with what else is out there in the world.
What have your experiences been finding instructional design jobs where telecommuting is an option?
Update: Read all my posts about Instructional Design Careers.
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