8 Pros and Cons of Job-Hopping

job-hopping Job-hopping. Should you do it or not? To answer, let’s look at a situation.

You’ve landed what you think is an awesome position with a company that seems to be on the cutting edge of technology and innovation. You show up on your first day of work primed to shine and soak up as much knowledge as humanly possible so you can climb the rudders of that career ladder like nobody’s business.

Flash forward in time.

As your first month on the job comes to a close, and the next few months of your career begin to dawn before you, your vibrancy fades because the position and your colleagues are not at all what you expected. Your gut tells you to quit and find something better. Enter the job-hopping dilemma.

What if this isn’t the first time this happened to you? What if this happened several times? Do you continue to quit and find more appropriate work that will keep you energized and fulfilled or do you stick it out and hope for a miracle?

How does job-hopping look to potential employers? What hurts more: to stay, or to seek the right fit?

Let’s take a look at some pros and cons of job-hopping.

PROS of Job-Hopping

Self-discovery offers a chance to find the right fit.

You’ve got one life to live and put forth great efforts that can yield great results. If you free yourself to discover the right environment for you, one day you may find it. If you never try to find it, you won’t.

You’ll develop targeted skills.

Inevitably, by exploring various work environments, you’ll learn new skill sets that can be transferred to different situations. Your range of experience will grow, and you’ll place yourself in a unique position to see the work world through a wider lens. Ultimately, you’ll have more to bring to a future employer’s table.

Access to more information and resources.

The more experiences you gain, the more you’ll grow. Placing yourself in the seat of learning and acquiring news skills grants you access to a lot of information that can be applied across various mediums.

Exposure to different businesses and people.

Shifting your environment keeps you fresh, socially and professionally. You’ll meet new people and potentially develop the necessary communication and interpersonal skills to be successful in a business environment.  You’ll gain new perspectives, good and bad, from those with whom you work. You’ll also grow your network and pool of people to contact for specific information in the future.

CONS of Job-Hopping

An employer might view job-hopping as irresponsible.

You run the risk of missed opportunities with potential employers because they may form a negative opinion without ever having a chance to speak with you or see your great potential.

Your skills might be in question.

Employers may view frequent job-hopping as a weakness when it comes to your skills. They may question your ability to get along with others, understand direction, or grasp critical concepts.

Employers will be hesitant to invest in you.

The process of hiring an employee is laborious, especially in large corporations where entire committees are formed to decide on filling a position. Job-hopping may be one of those red flags that employers will automatically apply to a candidate’s resume as a way of cutting the pile down to a manageable pool of applicants.

Employers may not trust your level of commitment.

One too many jobs within a short period may spell trouble to potential employers, eliciting a fear that if they hire you, you may run at the first sign of trouble. They may question if you leave positions rapidly because of an inability to manage stress and outcomes.

Solutions:

Don’t quit right away.

Stay on the job until you find a better fit.

Volunteer

Volunteer in between employment gaps to show you are focused and professional.  Volunteering will allow you to build a reputation of being reliable, committed, motivated and willing. Many of the shadows of doubt employers may experience when analyzing job hopping on a resume can be put to rest if volunteerism outshines in the areas that really matter to them. Chances are, you will be applying to positions that interest you and where your skills – earned by volunteering your time and energy — directly match their needs.

Ultimately, the decision you make today will affect your future. By weighing the pros and cons, you’ll be in a better position to decide what is best for you future.

Your Turn:

Have you had to evaluate the pros and cons of job hopping, and how did it turn out for you?

Always in learning mode,
Your friends at ISD Now.

eLearning Quality

written by: Dr. Greg Williams, UMBC ISD Graduate Program Director

LearningWhen I tell people that I am a college professor, they usually ask me what I teach. When I tell them that I teach instructional design and e-learning development, I often get a puzzled look from them. After explaining what instructional design is, the conversation usually turns to eLearning and quality.

Many times people tell me that they think the quality of e-learning is not good. I ask them what their experience is with e-learning. I asked if they have ever taken an e-learning class or have even taught a class, or have been part of an online class. The answer is usually no.

What they usually tell me is that they think that e-learning is simply ”not very effective”. As an educator I am interested in how people form their opinions. When I asked them how they formed their opinion about e-learning, I discover that they have very little first-hand experience with it.

Often times they will say “I heard that it is not very good” or “my friend took a course and didn’t like it”. As a student and working professional, I have literally taken hundreds of in-person courses. Guess what? Some of them weren’t very good either. I don’t think that e-learning has a corner on the market on low-quality courses.

Sound critical thinking tells us to try to get objective information about a topic. It tells us to ask questions to get to the heart of the matter. I find it interesting that in higher education some highly educated professionals who embrace the use of critical thinking, throw it out when it comes to eLearning. For some unknown reason anecdotal information seems to be good enough for some people when it comes to assessing the effectiveness of e-learning.

Let’s face it. eLearning is not for every instructor, nor is it for every student. What I do feel confident about is that e-learning will not be going away anytime soon. At some point the “e” will be dropped from the term “e-learning” and we will simply focus on what is important….the “learning” itself.

Finding the Balance with Design and Development

design or developmentDesign or Development?

What skill is more important in creating a course…design or development?  Are they overlapping skills?  Does one feed off the other?  Confusing?  You bet!

Can you have both?  Absolutely! There are many instructional designers who are also experts with software development tools. Then again, there are great authoring tool experts who really don’t know that much about instructional design.

Today I see more and more people blurring instructional design and instructional development. 

Both are important and both are necessary for creating effective instruction.  Design and development seems to be overlapping now more than ever.  Just take a look at job descriptions for “instructional designers and “eLearning developers”.  Some employers seem to want candidates that have it all.

Anyone can claim they are instructional designer.

Instructional design is not a profession that is regulated by a professional association such as  certified public accountants (CPA), project management professionals (PMP) or professional engineers (PE). I met someone once who told he was an instructional designer because he knew Dreamweaver.  I asked him if he knew how to write instructional objectives.  He said no, but if instructional objectives were important that he would figure out how to do it.  But that doesn’t stop him from saying he is an instructional designer.

There is a current school of thought where some people confuse the use of developing courses with software authoring tools (e.g. Captivate, Articulate, Flash) with instructional design skills.  Someone may be an expert in Articulate’s Storyline. That development skill may enable them to create a class. However, that doesn’t guarantee that they possess the knowledge, skills and abilities of a well trained instructional designer.

For example, I know how to swing a hammer. Therefore, I can build a house if I wanted to, but how well constructed would the house be? Wouldn’t it be better to work with a trained architect to design the house according to the client’s specifications?

I imagine that some of this phenomenon can be attributed to the competition for the work itself.

Keeping with the contractor example, I know that some carpenters do masonry work when demand for carpentry work slows down.  Some consulting companies do the same thing.

Several hiring managers have told me that authoring software keeps getting easier and easier to use. Therefore, they contend that they think it’s more important that their employees have very strong analysis and design skills.

I am not sure there is a right or wrong answer to this.  What do you think?

Always in learning mode,
Your friends at ISD Now

Getting Laid Off – It’s Not Personal. It’s Strictly Business

Getting Laid Off – by Dr. Greg Williams, UMBC ISD Program Director

laid offIn the movie “The Godfather” (Part I), there is a line where Michael Corleone says to his younger brother “It’s not personal Sonny, it’s strictly business”.

In 2002, I was told by my employer that they had some bad news for me.  Due to the State of Maryland’s economic situation, the university had to make budget cuts. Unfortunately for me, my job was one of them.

Laid Off

I was shocked!  I said to myself “this happens in private business, not in the slow moving world of higher education”.  I thought “how could they lay me off?”  I had good evaluations, was a dedicated employee, did all they asked, and more.  Boy, was I wrong.  In other words, it’s not personal, it’s just business.

After the feeling of shock subsided, I had an uneasy feeling of panic.  What was going going to do? How long would I be unemployed?  Had I saved enough money? Who would hire me?

Preparation is Key

I felt very unprepared.  My resume and references were outdated.  Worse yet, I really had no professional portfolio to speak of.  Oh, I had accomplishments.  But many were undocumented and certainly in no shape to show a prospective employer.

To make a long story short, I survived.  I had a solid work history and an extensive network of professional contacts that proved to be my lifeline.

So what lessons did a I learn from getting laid off?

Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned (or re-learned) was that life isn’t fair.  If an organization can benefit by cutting their costs (e.g. laying you off), they will.  Accept that as fact and more on.  It’s not personal…just business. You should never feel completely secure in your job.  Fear can be a good motivator.  As a former boy scout I should have known to be better prepared.

So what can you do to prevent this, or at least cope with getting laid off?

  1. Accept the fact that anyone can get laid off at any time.
  2. Always be open to career opportunities.
  3. Stay on top of what the job market looks like for our field.  Know the changes and trends.
  4. Have your resume up to date.  There is nothing sadder than seeing a great job advertised only to find out you cannot meet the application deadline.
  5. Have your portfolio up to date and ready to share with people.
  6. Get feedback from professional colleagues on your portfolio.
  7. Have a LinkedIn account.  It’s the number one digital professional network.  Recruiters rely on it.
  8. Don’t forget in-person networking strategies.  In-person networking is not dead!
  9. Stay in touch with your professional references.
  10. Stay positive.  Good thing will happen, but sometimes things take time.

Don’t make the same mistakes as me.  It was painful learning experience, but it doesn’t have to be. Remember, it’s not personal, it’s strictly business.

Always in learning mode,
Your friends at ISD Now

How A Junk Mail Flyer Changed My Career

junk mailWho would have thought that receiving a junk mail flyer in my mailbox would have changed my career? How was I to know that this one particular flyer would have a significant impact on my professional life?

Dr. Greg Williams, Program Director for UMBC’s ISD Graduate Program, shares his story of how junk mail changed the trajectory of his career.

Junk Mail Offered a New Direction

In 1999, I was living in the Federal Hill neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland. One day I received a flyer in the U.S. mail from an online university. They were recruiting potential faculty to teach online for them. I had wondered about teaching online, but never really did anything about before. From my research, reading and conversations with professional colleagues, it seemed like eLearning was poised to grow. And now, a supposed piece of junk mail confirmed it!

At the time of receiving this flyer, I was working at Towson University at the time in a staff position. I mentioned to a faculty member that I was thinking about going through the online university’s faculty training program. To my surprise he said that he knew someone who had gone through the same program and thought that it was excellent.

It All Started with a Junk Mail Flyer

I decided to enroll in the course. I thought it would be good for my career. I was right. Prior to this training course I had never taken an eLearning course myself, nor had I taught one. I had some limited experience with eLearning, but I never taught a complete online class.

This particular class required us to be available for 20 hours of class time, homework and studying each week. There were no exceptions for anyone. If you missed class time or were late on your assignments, you were removed form the class and had to start over again.

The course was modeled after the online university’s regular 5 week format. We experienced the same thing as students taking our courses. This helped to develop empathy, as well as to “walk a mile” in the students’ shoes.

It was a demanding and challenging experience. However, I learned a great deal. It was the foundation for developing my eLearning skills. Here is some of what I learned.

What I Learned About eLearning
1. It’s not “easy” being an online student. Online learning is not for everyone.
2. Online students need good time management skills, be motivated and disciplined.
3. eLearning is not about the technology. While online teachers use technology, a successful course is more about their ability to facilitate their learning.
4. Communication is very different. We know how simple email communication can easily get misunderstood. That misunderstanding can grow exponentially when it comes to eLearning.

Other Lessons Learned
1. Be open to change, it’s how we grow.
2. You never know where or when opportunities may pop up.
3. Use critical thinking and don’t believe everything you hear.
4. Take some calculated career risks.
5. Your career is dynamic, so you need to be dynamic too.

Because the flyer, my career would never be the same. It opened up a number of life-changing opportunities for me. Maybe you have some opportunities coming your way too. Would you recognize them? Be open-minded and give them a chance.

Lastly, take a quick glance at your junk mail before you throw it away.

Always in Learning Mode,
Your friends at ISD Now

The Emotional Impact of Schematic Faces

Many might agree, schematic faces, or emoticons, have a way of sweeping into our minds and filling us with joy, sadness, anger, and many other emotions. How amazing is it that a simple line drawing can affect us on such an emotional level?

schematic faces

The Power in Schematic Faces

Smiley faces can make us laugh, giggle, and smile back. These smiley schematic faces can soften a sentence, add humor to a serious discussion, and offer a friendly tone.

Expressions in Schematic Faces

As human beings, we pay attention to faces. We connect to them. We interpret vast amounts of information in seconds just from laying our eyes on them. Our basic survival depends on our ability to interpret and digest non-verbal cues from a person’s facial expression.

Findings on Schematic Faces

Connie Malamed, a consultant, author and speaker in the fields of visual design, online learning and information design, wrote an article on this subject titled, The Visual Language of Schematic Faces. In this article, she discussed the idea of Facial Codes. Malamed explained, “The conveyance of facial expressions are uncannily reflected in schematic faces. This is probably due to our competence at reading and interpreting what is known as the facial code, which many believe is universal to all people in all cultures.”

In her article, Malamed references research conducted by Paul Ekman, one of the most well-known researchers in this field, and his findings on prototypical facial codes that express six distinct primary emotions, joy, sadness, surprise, fear, disgust, and anger.

Importance of Schematic Faces on ISD Professionals

Our faces hold great communication power, and even in simple line form, human emotions can be expressed clearly and concisely. As users of technology and imagery, this wonderful ability of the human brain to interpret data from schematic faces can have far-reaching benefits by ways of helping to improve the way we communicate visually, and how this communication is then absorbed in a profound level.

Do you make use of schematic faces in your ISD work?

Always in learning mode,
Your friends at ISD Now

www.umbc.edu/isd

Join us for a Complimentary Webinar on February 26, 2014

UMBC’s ISD Now Webinar Series is holding its next webinar on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. EST. Guest speaker, Dr. Jane Bozarth, eLearning Coordinator for the State of North Carolina will discuss Social Media for Trainers.

social-media-for-trainersJoin us as Dr. Jane Bozarth helps us explore the use of free technologies like blogs, wikis, Facebook, Twitter, and online groups to help build communication, increase participation, and enhance transfer of training to the job.

We’ll both define and demystify each tool. You will get ideas for applying low-cost collaboration strategies to your own training programs—both classroom and online!

Dr. Jane Bozarth is the eLearning Coordinator for the State of North Carolina. She is the author of several books including Social Media for Trainers, Better than Bullet Points, the upcoming Show Your Work, and more. She also writes the monthly “Nuts & Bolts” column for Learning Solutions Magazine. She is a popular webinar and conference speaker. Dr. Bozarth and her husband live in Durham, NC.

This UMBC ISD Now webinar is free and open to the public. If interested in attending, please RSVP online.

We hope to see you there!
Your friends at ISD Now

SMEs From the Ground Up with Dr. Chuck Hodell

ISDNowForum

On October 23, the UMBC ISD program was lucky enough to have Dr. Chuck Hodell present at the ISD Now Forum.

Dr. Hodell’s interactive presentation focused on SMEs From the Ground Up.

Dr. Hodell provided practical information on how to identify different types of SMEs, how to determine SME selection criteria specific to one’s needs, and how to create a list of things one can do to support SMEs in the design process.

Enjoy this presentation by Dr. Hodell on SMEs From the Ground Up, in the video below.

Let us know what you think about Dr. Hodell’s presentation.

Always in learning mode,
Your friends at ISD Now

The ID Guru – Connie Malamed’s New App

Connie Malamed recently came out with an app, The ID Guru. Josie Whitmore So, a graduate student in UMBC’s Instructional Systems Development program, recently reviewed the app. Read her review below:

I encounter a baffling amount of ISD jargon in my day-to-day life. It’s in my books, on the discussion boards, and even in my personal life (my husband and my best friend are both Instructional Designers).

As a student with little prior experience with ISD, I’m often caught in the uncomfortable position of having to pause what I’m doing to find the right resource to define these terms and concepts. By the time I’ve paged through a few books or gone down the rabbit hole of the internet, I’ve lost my train of thought.

Luckily, I stumbled upon Connie Malamed’s new app, the ID guru, while exploring her blog, the eLearning Coach.

id-guruAvailable for both iPhone and Android phones, this app is simple, with no bells or whistles to complicate a quick, inconspicuous search. Currently, The ID Guru defines more than 470 key terms drawn from the fields of instructional design, cognitive psychology, social media, multimedia, technology and law.

Here are some other great features:

  • Want to look up a term quickly? Tap the search icon and enter the term or search alphabetically.
  • Have some time to kill and want to explore? Browse for terms by categories (Cognitive Psychology, Instructional Design, Learning Theory, Legal, Multimedia, Social Media and Technical) or simply thumb through the list.
  • Many of the terms are hyperlinked to each other which makes exploring the relationships between concepts effortless.
  • As a novice, my favorite part of the app is the little light bulb icon that shows up under a number of the definitions. This icon identifies tips from Malamed herself, so you aren’t just getting an easy to use list of terms, you’re also getting the wisdom of someone who has practiced in the field for more than 20 years.

I would love to see the next generation of this app take The ID Guru from a simple tool to a more engaging learning instrument with infographics, links to podcasts, and more insider tips. For right now, though, I definitely feel like I got my money’s worth. $2.99 is a small price to pay when it comes to feeling competent at school and with my peers. For more info on her app, visit the eLearning Coach.

Always in Learning Mode,
Your friends at ISD Now
PS Have you tried the ID GURU? Share your experience by commenting below!

Put Your ISD Skills to Good Use by Volunteering

No matter where you are in your career with ISD, volunteering can be great way to give back to the community, gain more diverse hands-on experience and grow your portfolio.

The Magic of Volunteering

VolunteeringIn ISD From The Ground Up, our own Professor Chuck Hodell mused: “never underestimate the value of a little professional experience lent to a worthy cause. It is comparable to someone having little knowledge of how an automobile works sitting with their disabled car on the side of the road until a Good Samaritan comes along and performs a bit of magic in the engine and it starts right up.”

If you’re ready to perform a bit of your own magic, the following are some great ways to get started in volunteering:

Global Giveback

In partnership with the eLearning Guild, LINGOS’ Global Giveback enables the eLearning community to volunteer their talent, creativity and experience to a consortium of more than 75 humanitarian relief, development, conservation and health organizations.

In the first four years Global Giveback was held, volunteer instructional designers and eLearning developers have created more than 100 eLearning courses to support these global development non-profit organizations. To learn more and to get started, sign up for the Global Giveback Group on LinkedIn.

Last Mile Learning

Volunteers who sign up for the Global Giveback Group on LinkedIn also have access to LINGOS’ newest initiative, Last Mile Learning. Last Mile Learning’s mission is to provide “world-class learning opportunities at no cost to anyone working to improve lives in the developing world.”

Through Last Mile Learning, volunteers are provided with a library of free contextualized professional development courses while development and relief professionals can register to the Last Mile Learning open portal and access courses designed to improve their skills.

e-Learning for Kids

Are you interested in designing courseware and educational games for underserved children?  e-Learning for Kids is a global, nonprofit foundation dedicated to “fun and free learning on the Internet for children ages 5-12.”

As of 2012, e-Learning for Kids courses have been used by 4.5 million children in more than 190 countries in both the developing and developed world. Watch the video below to learn more about volunteering for e-Learning for Kids.

Idealist:

Idealist is a great way to search for specific causes that interest you, to network with experienced colleagues, and to create content for your portfolio that speaks to who you are and what you want to do.

You can even tailor your search to your specific needs as a volunteer, including the amount of time you are able to commit, the duration of the job, and the times of day you are available. You don’t need to have an Idealist account to search, so feel free to explore. You never know… the perfect opportunity could be just a few clicks away!

Have you ever volunteered your ISD skills? Tell us about it.

Always in Learning Mode,
Your friends at ISD Now