Hiring employees for your training team is probably one of the most difficult parts of being a training manager or director of training. A candidate's skills and experience are important but they also need to fit into your company's culture. And there are all the other obvious factors like compensation, location, etc. Finding just the right people for your team is not easy. But it doesn't need to be complicated either.
I'm often asked about hiring. For me, the answer is the same as when I'm asked about training solutions: IT DEPENDS! Unless you are asking me about training platforms then the answer is easy. But that's only because I know that Litmos can support ANYTHING you need to get done as a training professional. But no matter what systems you currently have, you need to hire people to make all the magic happen.
Technology and Culture Play the Biggest Role
In the US everything is moving quickly towards a mobile first mentality. At least that's what we see in the tech world. However, in other countries where human interaction, and relationship building, is still highly valued as a critical part of business, the classroom still reigns supreme. And then of course, like all things, there is an incredibly large grey area in between. And this is where experience plays an important role. If you are a global business you should be aware of the cultural differences. Especially if you plan on creating one solution for the entire global audience.
But with that said, I've seen the necessity and resurgence of classroom courses in the US, and other countries embracing tech solutions more and more. So, again, it depends. And it's up to you, the L&D leader, to understand where your company and audience of learners sits on the spectrum.
And if that isn't enough, you'll need a complete understanding of your internal IT systems. This includes what external systems are allowed to enter the firewall, and which ones are not. With a solid understanding of culture and technology you're in a much better position to know what type of training professional you need. And if this sounds a little like the process for creating your enterprise training strategy, that's because it is.
What Type of Training Professional Should You Hire
You should hire the professional that's available. That's the easy answer, but not the answer anyone wants to hear. I say this because you need to get work done. The work of the training professional is changing rapidly and most of the skills required can be trained pretty quickly if you start with someone who has a decent foundational skill set. But I'd say that availability and interest in BEING a training professional trumps even the foundational ISD skill set. If they don't enjoy the WORK of training then you're in trouble.
Most training professionals stumble into the world of corporate training by fostering their own interests in graphic design, media design, or other design field using technology as their medium of choice. I specify "tech as their medium of choice" because traditional painting on canvas, while important, does not translate well into the corporate workplace. Being even a little tech savvy makes it easy for designers to pick up skills with authoring tools, and administrate LMSs. Creating digital media, using that digital media to create courses using authoring tools, and publishing/managing those courses in your cloud based LMS is the candidate skill trifecta.
Even if you are in a business that is still primarily delivering classroom based courses, you still need media created that supports the course content. You also need to manage that classroom in your enterprise learning management system. And if, like many, you are transitioning from a cost center to generating revenue, then you need a tech savvy training professional to manage the eCommerce.
YOUR Skills and Experience Play a Part in Hiring
At this point you're leaning heavily towards a strong tech hire. And I'm feeling that way too. But we've forgotten one critical factor of hiring: YOUR SKILLS! What are YOUR experiences in corporate training? Where are YOUR gaps in understanding? If you are a seasoned L&D professional with a solid understanding of basic ISD, and the business challenges of running a training department, then yes. I'd say go straight for the heaviest hitting technology guru you can find. At least, the one that is truly interested in applying their skills in a training department.
However, if you have taken on the role of training manager with little or no experience in the training world then do yourself a favor and make your first hire a seasoned training professional. Choosing a technology person first could backfire for you. I've seen tech savvy web developers fail at corporate training because they understood how to create digital web content, but did not know how to evaluate what content should be created and how best to deliver it. Media creation specialists can be extremely successful in corporate training if they have instructional design guidance from you or an experienced training professional.
Large enterprises with big training needs will have larger training teams. I often see instructional designers paired with technology developers. This works well by allowing each to focus on their areas of expertise. However, in my experience, the tech savvy instructional media producer quickly picks up on the tools of the ISD trade, while the instructional designer will rarely pick up the technology skills of the developer. This creates a very useful multi-talented developer quite capable of functioning as a one person training team. So you can go shopping for this hybrid candidate, or you can hire for one skill set and train them on the other.
The Perfect Candidate Doesn't Exist...But the Best One Does.
It's important to decide what the perfect candidate might look like regarding skills. But it's more important that you understand the perfect person does not exist. Decide early on in the process what your hiring priorities are by understanding those three basic areas and you will identify the best candidate much more quickly with less deliberation. It will become obvious pretty quickly if someone fits or not.
And you should always find out if they have ever worked with Litmos LMS. There is a free trial so there is no reason for them NOT too have checked it out. Basic curiosity of different systems is a good trait to recognize in your candidates. But you should check it out too. Start your free trial today!