Transitioning to the Learning & Development Field
We’re seeing a huge shift in workplaces, with many professionals moving out of their chosen fields and into something new and exciting in the world of corporate training.
Learning & Development has steadily been experiencing its own transitions, brought about by technology and corporate and academic influences, and is now welcoming newcomers from other industries who are joining the ranks. If you or someone you know is interested in a career in L&D, we’ve included some tips below to help with the process.
Changing careers can be challenging, but with a well-organized plan, you can make the transition smoothly.
The first step in a transition is to think about what role you’d like to be hired into:
Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality Strategist
Content Management Specialist
Learning Program Manager
Learning Project Manager
Learning Management System Admin
Learning Business Partner
Learning Analytics Specialist
Media Design and Graphics Developer
Voice Over Narrator
Course Programmer or Developer
Consider the skills you need
In looking at this table, what roles appeal to you? What skills do you already have? Do you feel you need to upskill to fit into certain roles? Would you like more than one role, as is often required on the job? For example, you might need to learn how to use certain course authoring software if you’d like to become a Course Developer.
Show off your skills
Another thing to think about is creating a portfolio for your interview process. A portfolio is very important to develop for showing examples of what you have done and/or can do. If you aren’t very fluent or even familiar with learning technology (tools like Storyline, Camtasia, or Captivate), it is a good idea to familiarize yourself through free trials. Use these tools to build a training sample and show what you have learned via your portfolio.If your expertise is less techy, you canshow examples of written scenarios and/or storyboards that would be handed off to a learning tools specialist.
Learn the industry
There are lots of things to do to get ready for a big transition. One good practice is to familiarize yourself with the L&D industry and its terminology so you can be knowledgeable before being interviewed for a job. Research job descriptions, follow known experts on LinkedIn, check out books from the library by Clark Quinn, Patti Shank, Cathy Moore, Ruth Clark, and seek out expertise by other known practitioners. All of these are all good methods to make this transition a little easier.
Expand your network
Whenever possible, try your best to connect with industry professionals in-person and online. Often you can get helpful advice and guidance about your new career path, and you may also discover unlisted job openings or be introduced to hiring managers. Attending events and looking for ways to interact with successful people in the field is another great way to build your network. Remember, people love to talk about themselves, so put together a list of questions and schedule informational interviews to learn more about the industry and what they do.
It’s a bigger transition than you might think. Working as a teacher within a school district has some translatable skills, but be prepared to spend time learning about your new industry and gaining experience before reaching your target goals. Transitioning to a new career is a gradual process. Fortunately, you’ve chosen a good, caring field. Be patient, ask for help - and before you know it, you'll have what it takes to succeed.