By definition, learning and development (L&D) leaders create and conduct learning programs for employees. But there really isn’t a definitive training booklet that shows former L&D pros how to streamline their reentry into the job market.
As is the case in other industries where people hit the career pause button and months or years later decide to get back in the game, L&D leaders wanting to return to the profession need to promote their strengths. They need to have clarity of vision in terms of what type of company and employees they want to work with next, and why.
For L&D leaders considering a comeback, underscore and boldface the “why” in your thinking. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the game to a degree, causing deep introspection and sweeping reevaluation by many workers about what a job and a company means to them. Many bolted during The Great Resignation because they simply weren’t happy enough at their job and thought they could do better or be treated better. A good number of others left for family reasons. Which group were you among? And what is your “why,” now?
When you read about The Great Resignation and serious labor shortages, you see a lot of discussion about job candidates having more leverage than ever before. For L&D leaders, your special skill set and how it positively impacts companies probably has never enjoyed more leverage than now. That’s because companies are in the midst of much change in this time of social upheaval and require exceptional training to stay ahead of the curve.
Many workers have undersold themselves in the past. The pandemic prompted some who stepped away to reassess their value. One way your value as an L&D leader can go up comes from what you’ve learned about yourself and others during your work absence — and how you can teach and lead even better as a result.
It’s difficult for many companies right now to find the right talent. Fortunately, as a learning leader, you have capabilities that don’t just grow on trees. Often, leaders of L&D boast traits such as: superior communication skills, creativity, the ability to delegate, teaching, curriculum development, team building and a passion for the company they work for. So, be encouraged as you reenter the job market, and focus on the following points during your pursuit:
- Interview yourself first: Review your experience and goals. Think about your skills, interests and strengths, and what you value most in a new position and in an employer. Also take a hard, honest look at yourself and ask, Where are you lacking? Determine which work activities you enjoy most, and what kinds of people you enjoy working with and for. Focus your search on places that would allow you to spread your wings and prosper.
- Emphasize your soft skills. Soft skills such as adaptability, creativity, time management and communication, often differentiate job candidates, including those in L&D. As companies adapt quickly to rapidly-changing consumer demands and business models, they’re hiring people who are able to assimilate and process quickly, learn new skills and problem-solve.
- Take your learning to a higher level. Hopefully you kept learning while sitting on the sidelines. Tell interviewers what you learned and how it applies to this new position. Overall, when reentering the job market, you should be recharged and energized, and having a renewed hunger for learning can propel you. Effective L&D leaders are passionate about creating programs that help people. They are constantly learning about leadership, development and training.
- Build your network. If you’ve been out of work for a year or longer, it’s vital to tap into and expand your network. Think about the previous co-workers you’ve had. Attend networking events and conferences; connect with industry people on social media. The more people you share information with, the more likely one or more of them will inform you of opportunities or offer to be a reference.
Whether your absence from the workplace was self-imposed or a matter of being laid off, getting back into it requires energy, focus and patience. Sometimes a reset or a second wind is all we need to be a new and better version of ourselves – and in the case of returning L&D leaders, to help employees do the same.