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Build your professional brand

Over the last decade, the landscape of mapping a learning career and landing roles has changed. Some learning professionals and hopefuls are evolving along with the times - paving their own pursuits - while others are facing rejection after rejection. While capability may have something to do with it, I think a larger problem is marketability. There is more competition out there today, so you need to find a way to cut through the noise.

In other words, make it easy for recruiters, hiring managers, and potential clients to get to identify your unique value by establishing and promoting your professional brand. This does not mean you need to have an active social media presence with a large following; instead, it means your clear value proposition needs to show up wherever you do: in your LinkedIn profile, portfolio, resume, cover letters, interviews, and - most importantly - in the work you do.

Through this lesson, you will explore a variety of brand options for generalists, specialists, and management professionals in the learning industry.

Embrace the law of attraction

The journey of building a professional brand begins with understanding the law of attraction in the professional realm. When you focus your energy on your genuine career desires, you start attracting the people, resources, and opportunities capable of turning those desires into reality.

For example, a learning designer deeply invested in immersive learning experiences and actively sharing work, thoughts, and insights on virtual reality in education is more likely to catch the eye of companies at the forefront of VR learning technologies.

So the first step is to figure out what you really want out of your career. Then, research current market needs and the requirements of the roles or opportunities you want to pursue next. Most importantly, define whether you want to be a:

  • Generalist who supports most or all phases of a learning project (e.g. instructional designer, learning consultant)

  • Specialist who focuses on a distinct aspect or stage of learning (e.g. assessment specialist, eLearning developer, quality assurance specialist)

  • Management professional who leads teams and projects (e.g. L&D manager, director of instructional technology, Chief Learning Officer)

Once you have identified who you want to become in this industry, create a unique professional brand for yourself. Then, make sure that brand shows up with you everywhere you go - online and in person, consistently.

Consider the brand options for generalists, specialists, and management below, and either tailor them to meet your needs or create a unique brand of your own.

Generalist brand ideas

If you are or want to be a generalist, the good news is that the skillset required for this role is so broad that the brand options are seemingly endless. The hard part is narrowing it down. Scroll through and consider the following options:

Specialist brand samples

Creating a professional brand for specialists is fairly simple, because the options are not as broad as those available for generalists. Tailor your value proposition to market demands, requirements for your next desired role, and what you want out of your career. Scroll through and consider the following samples:

Management brand ideas

As a leader in this industry, you should also tailor your value proposition to market demands, requirements for your next desired role, and what you want out of your career. Scroll through and consider the following options:

Summary and next steps

In a competitive field like the learning industry, a well-defined professional brand can be the key to unlocking opportunities that align with your career aspirations. By embracing the law of attraction and proactively shaping your professional identity, you can make yourself a magnet for the roles, projects, and collaborations that will propel your career forward.

To dive deeper into building and leveraging your professional brand, consider completing the 25 structured activities in my workbook, "Win the Work: Plan your instructional design career and land your next role." This resource is packed with exercises, templates, and strategies designed to help you refine your unique value proposition, enhance your marketability, and attract the career opportunities you desire. Start shaping your professional journey today, and turn your career aspirations into your career reality.


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