L&D Careers - Amy DuVernet, Ph.D., CPTM

In my previous column, I explored the diverse backgrounds that lead professionals into learning and development (L&D). Because the streams that lead to learning and development (L&D) are varied, selecting the right L&D professional is often challenging. In this column, I’ll focus on L&D careers from the other perspective — that of a hiring manager — describing the process of defining an L&D job role, recruiting candidates and ultimately hiring an individual into a training role, offering tips at each phase to help you with the process.

Step 1. Define the Job Role

First, clearly define the role and its responsibilities. There are some great resources out there — Training Industry has several relevant wikis (e.g., the training process framework), the Department of Labor’s job classifications, as well as published job descriptions for similar job roles via job boards and HR resources. Lean on these for inspiration, but also consider your own context. Ask yourself:

  • How will this position fit within our talent development team?
  • Who will they work with? What teams and stakeholders might be impacted?
  • What percentage of their time will be spent on each responsibility and how critical is each to their overall job performance?

Step 2. Identify the Required Skills

Next, you should identify the required knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics (KSAOs) for the role. Look to L&D competency models, such as Training Industry’s Training Manager Competency Model. Assess which are necessary immediately versus those that can be learned on the job. Equally important to consider are those that are not required.

For instance, while many job postings mandate a college degree, this may end up excluding valuable candidates. Similarly, you may be tempted to list an L&D background as a prerequisite but widening your scope could bring transferable skills and new perspectives.

Step 3. Write the Job Description

Thoughtfully crafting your job posting is your next step, as the language you use in the post can significantly influence your recruitment efforts. Research shows that certain phrases might deter applicants (e.g., “fast-paced work environment” could signal a high-stress job role to a candidate). Use tools to check your job postings for biased language and assert your organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

In addition, your job posting should highlight your organization’s culture, values, mission and commitment to professional development. Candidates, especially those in L&D, seek roles where they have opportunities for growth.

Step 4. Outline the Hiring Process

Just as critical as a thoughtful job posting is a carefully designed hiring process. Some key best practices to consider include:

    • Reducing unconscious biases — remove names and pictures from resumes, portfolios and other materials.
    • Involving key stakeholders in interviews. Stakeholders will offer different perspectives, giving candidates a more comprehensive view of their potential working environment.
    • Standardize interview questions based on identified KSAOs. Focus on job-relevant questions and avoid personal information, such as marital or parental status, as it tends to be unrelated to job performance and could signal protected class information that must not be considered in your hiring decisions.
    • Offer your interviewers training on how to ask questions with follow-up prompts. Be sure to emphasize the importance of representing the company, as job candidates are also evaluating fit.
    • Creating a standardized rating form to record perspectives on the candidate’s suitability. Ask about the candidate’s potential to fit within and enrich your company culture.

Hiring the right candidate is pivotal for your organization’s success in achieving business goals. By defining required skills and expertise, embracing diversity and focusing on cultural fit and potential for growth, you can assemble an L&D team that not only delivers results but also promotes a culture of continuous learning.