Even under normal circumstances, finding a new job opportunity that excites and motivates you is a challenging task. Today, with skyrocketing unemployment rates due to the coronavirus crisis, navigating the job market can feel daunting. The good news is that while the pandemic has put some opportunities on hold, it has created others — especially for professionals in learning and development (L&D).
Companies are looking for qualified candidates to fill crucial L&D positions, because more employers today understand the value L&D specialists bring to their organizations — and their bottom lines. In fact, according to LinkedIn’s 2019 Workplace Learning Report, L&D professionals have a new strategic role to play, with “the support and technology to tackle day-to-day challenges, as well as more strategic and proactive efforts like understanding skills gaps and marketing L&D programs to learners.” For L&D specialists who can quickly evolve to adapt to these changing times, opportunities are growing. Here are five ways you can stand out to employers and accelerate your L&D career:
1. Brainstorm Creative Solutions
As an L&D professional, you are in a sector of great need. Many companies had to make a quick switch to a remote workforce when the coronavirus crisis hit, and these organizations now need to find ways to be more efficient and make employees more effective in the new, virtual working environment.
Conduct some research on the company you’re interested in working for, ask questions relevant to the company’s current remote work situation, and provide ideas and suggestions that might assist the company in addressing this new environment. Most importantly, show how your skills match the potential employer’s needs.
2. Go Beyond the Traditional
Think outside the box as you market your skills. Reach beyond the traditional ways you’ve provided training for employees, and show how you might tweak your efforts to address today’s unusual circumstances. For example, to alleviate some of the worry and anxiety employees may be feeling due to the coronavirus crisis, consider talking about how your plans for L&D would try to keep things fun and uplifting as well as educational.
3. Be Flexible
While excellent L&D professionals are highly sought after even during this pandemic, some industries are not in a position to hire at the moment. Look for companies and industries that have the greatest needs, and be prepared to pivot during this period.
Organizations involved in online education or virtual communication and essential businesses are especially fruitful ones to focus your energies on at this time. As you apply for positions, show how you can adapt your past experiences — even in a different industry — to fit your target employers’ needs.
4. Focus on Results
It’s one thing to say you’re a great L&D leader and another to prove it through your past accomplishments. Be prepared to talk about the most effective programs you’ve created or been involved with and to explain how they helped your company. These examples will show your employers how you can deliver solid results.
Data can be effective in highlighting the contributions you’ve made to an organization. To show your effectiveness as an L&D leader, consider highlighting the number of employees you were able to help with internal advancement through your training and education initiatives. Hiring new employees is a costly, time-intensive process, so showing how effectively you can upskill or reskill an existing workforce is a clear way of demonstrating your value.
5. Demonstrate a Commitment to Inclusivity
As an L&D expert, you need to be able to interact with many types of people in a warm, clear and professional way, both verbally and in writing. Today’s increasingly diverse and global workforce requires that L&D professionals can work with people of different generations, genders, ethnic identities, learning preferences and more. Show how you have created a culture of diversity and inclusion in your past positions, and be ready to talk about how you will do the same at your prospective company. Share how you demonstrate inclusive leadership that makes all individuals in the organization feel recognized and respected and show that you have the training and capacity to understand different experiences and points of view and assess your own biases.
Strong communication, organizational, decision-making and leadership skills are expected of any L&D professional, but keeping these five tips in mind during your job search in the age of the coronavirus will help you stand out from the crowd. Changing times bring more uncertainty — but also more opportunities for innovation. Don’t be afraid to show what makes you different from others in your field and share the new ideas you bring to the table to help your prospective company succeed.