Looking for that dream job in learning and development?

Take a minute to think about your dream learning and development job. Maybe you even want to close your eyes for a few moments and think about what it would look like, who would you be working with, who would you be working for, what would you be doing?

How did you even find that job?

In today’s podcast, I share some thoughts about how you might want to begin your quest for that dream L&D role.

Introduction

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to another episode of Train Like You Listen, which is a podcast about all things learning and development in bite-sized chunks. I’m Brian Washburn, I’m your host. I’m also the Co-founder of Endurance Learning and I’m the author of a book called What’s Your Formula? Combine Learning Elements for Impactful Training. 

Today’s podcast is going to be a short introduction to finding your dream job in the field of learning and development. So we’re going to be talking about sources to locate your job, ways to improve your networking skills, and industry-relevant knowledge and concepts you’ll want to develop as you start to think about those jobs and those conversations you’re going to have. What we won’t be talking about in this podcast are specific interview questions you might want to prepare for, components of a portfolio you might want to put together, overcoming imposter syndrome, things like that. These are all topics for upcoming podcasts, and they are important to landing that dream job, but not necessarily finding that dream job.

So, before we go any further, I want to mention that today’s podcast is brought to you by Soapbox, which is an online tool that you can use for 5 or 10 minutes, and you can take care of 50 or 60% of the work when it comes to developing a live, instructor-led training. You tell the computer how long your presentation is, how many people will attend, whether it’s in-person or virtual, what your learning objectives are, and Soapbox will instantly generate a training plan for you with clusters of training activities designed to help you accomplish those learning outcomes. If you want more information, please visit www.soapboxify.com.

Where to Find Your Dream Learning & Development Job

All right. So where should you even be looking for that dream job? If you’re intent on just doing this on your own, I’m going to suggest three places to begin looking. 

Generic Job Sites

The first place, obviously, would be generic job sites. Something like indeed.com, if you’re looking for a normal, run-of-the-mill corporate learning or training job. Idealist.org has been the place to look for nonprofit jobs. Or, if you have specific companies that you’re looking at, go straight to their websites and look for career openings and apply through those websites, as opposed to applying through some sort of general, online job board or even on LinkedIn.

Industry Job Boards

The number two place you might want to take a look at would be industry job boards. These are generally much more targeted for training or learning and development jobs. And these are things like the Association for Talent Development – they have a nationwide job board. If you go to TD as in Talent Development .org – td.org. While local chapter websites, they might have local job opportunities for you. 

And then if you go to Articulate, which is a company that makes industry-standard software, things like Storyline and Rise, they also have a super active community and you can go to the eLearning Heroes Community, and you can find their jobs hub for eLearning staff and contractor roles. So, either things that are permanent or things that are temporary, if you’re a freelancer.

LinkedIn

The number three place on my list of places that you might want to look at is LinkedIn. LinkedIn seems to increasingly be a place where I’ve seen individuals posting lists of job opportunities. Off the top of my head, there are people such as Cara North that’s C-a-r-a North and Nick Martin, who are two people that have been posting job listings regularly, like loads of job listings. And then this is also a reason to use LinkedIn to broaden your number of connections because individuals sometimes just randomly will post a job announcement when there are roles with their own organizations that open up as well.

Networking with Learning Professionals – Why?

Applying for an online job is like dropping an application into a black hole

All right. So, let’s talk about networking – both the “why” of networking and the “how.” Now, you can be the best, most creative instructional designer or learning professional in the world, but the old adage remains true to this day: it’s not what you know but rather who you know. So, when you complete an online job application, it’s a bit like dropping your credentials into a black hole. Who knows if someone will even actually look at your application? So when you’ve found that role that you think could be a fit for you, you might want to see if you can find someone at that organization with whom you can connect.

Networking with Learning Professionals – How?

So if you’re lucky, you know someone at that organization – even if they have nothing to do with training. For example, I live in Seattle and if I found a job at a place like Amazon or Microsoft, which are both big companies here in Seattle, that I was interested in, chances are that I already know someone who works for those organizations. And they would be able to tell me a little bit more about the work culture, and more importantly, they usually will be able to help usher my job application through an employee referral portal. This is a standard practice at lots of organizations that goes with the theory, “If an employee that works for me is recommending someone to me and that employee is willing to put their own reputation and credibility on the line to refer you for a job, then your job application should at least be looked at by the recruiter.” So that’s one of the reasons why you’ll want to actually find somebody at the organization who might be able to help you out there.

If you don’t know anyone at the organization, then it’s time to be a little bit more bold and start doing some research – probably through something like LinkedIn – to find someone in the learning or training field at that organization. You know, send them a connection request, and the key to those connection requests is to add a note that says, “Hey, I saw a job at your organization. I’m interested in it. I’d love to talk a little bit more with you about what it’s like to work there. Could I buy you a cup of virtual coffee at some point?” Right? So something like that is a nice way to open that conversation, especially if you’re reaching out to somebody cold on LinkedIn.

Developing Industry-Relevant Knowledge 

It’s really going to be important to develop industry-relevant vocabulary and knowledge of concepts or trends or theories or practices.

The last thing I want to talk about just with today’s podcast is developing industry-relevant knowledge on some concepts or trends or theories or practices. And this goes a little bit beyond finding your dream job, but as you begin to put your applications together and begin preparing for phone screenings and interviews, it’s really going to be important to develop industry-relevant vocabulary and knowledge of concepts or trends or theories or practices. Some people and concepts you’ll want to Google or go to Wikipedia for as soon as you’re done with this podcast. Include people like Malcolm Knowles – he’s widely considered to be the father of adult learning theory. Or Donald Kirkpatrick – he has a four-level model of training evaluation, which is widely used in some way, shape, or form in so many conversations that go to the heart of how you can tell if your training program has any impact, has any results, has any value.

Researching and Reading in the Field of L&D

If you’re looking for a job in the world of eLearning development, you may want to check out the writing of people like Michael Allen or Cathy Moore or Julie Dirksen – there’s a lot of people out there. Membership in the Association for Talent Development or ATD, that’s personally how I got a feel for the learning and development landscape. I would read their monthly magazine cover-to-cover, and I’d get ideas on what books I should be reading, which tools I should be trying, which leaders I should be following. The other thing is local ATD Chapter Membership is a really good way to not only find opportunities to learn about trends and concepts in the field, usually a lot of local chapters have monthly meetings which are pretty inexpensive to attend. They’re also golden opportunities to connect with others in the field who are local to you.

In the interest of time and in a moment of shameless plugging, I’m also going to suggest you head to our website that outlines 51 Elements of Learning, and that website can be found at 51elementsoflearning.com. And that would give you a high-level overview of, well, 51 different elements in the world of learning and development.

Finding Your Dream L&D Job: The Summary

Keep in mind that just dropping an application into an online job portal doesn't mean it will actually be reviewed by a human, so networking will be essential to your strategy.

So in sum, finding your dream job in the world of learning and development can be an exciting pursuit, and this conversation is really about how to be more strategic in that pursuit. So there are some key sites out there that will offer you a variety of job opportunities. The more industry-specific sites you visit, the more targeted your opportunities could be. Keep in mind that just dropping an application into an online job portal doesn’t mean it will actually be reviewed by a human, so networking will be essential to your strategy. And finally, as you get ready to submit an application or have conversations, it’s going to be essential to bring yourself up to date on key trends and concepts in the industry.

That’s all I have for you today. I will talk a little bit more in-depth as we go forward on some strategies once you have that interview, how to actually get that job. But for today, thanks for listening. If you know someone who might find today’s topic on ways to find your ideal training job to be important, please do pass this link to the podcast along. If you want to make sure that you are notified of a new podcast when it’s hot off the press, please subscribe at Apple or Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. Even better would be if you were able to give it a review of the podcast. It’ll take you a minute, but it would mean a lot to me. And until next time, happy training everyone.

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