Recruiters, let’s be honest, we all see Learning and Development Consultants and think, I could do that; it seems easy. Becoming a L&D consultant is something which recruiters may well view as their next career step, so what is the best advice for those who are looking to start a career in Learning and Development?
Here is the advice of some of the industry leaders.
You cannot know whether you’d be successful in a L&D role, if you don’t understand what it actually is.
‘Learning and Development is about longer-term objectives, working with the business as a support mechanism and function to get the best out of the sales people. Not short-term goals any more. Working with others to perform better.’- David Curtis, Director @ Affinity Learning.
‘Training people how to think, not just do, you can train people technically but proper recruiters are independent entities who have all the techniques and skills so they can deploy them as they go. Work on the person, not just the skills.’ - Jason Linney, Head of People @ Burns Sheehan.
As with any career change, you need to make sure you’re making the move for the right reasons. Be honest with yourself and understand your motivations for looking to move. If you have a well-thought out reason and are strong in your belief that it is the right decision for you, then great. If you’re not sure and make the move for the wrong reasons, like anything in life, it will not last.
‘Think about why you're doing it. People get into L&D from recruitment just because they're fed up of KPI's, or the management – If they're the motivations then they are the wrong reasons.’ - Bobby Banerjee, Learning and Development Coach @ SThree.
‘Reward and recognition comes in a different form - not from commission and bonuses - it comes from other people's success. Be mindful that will be the situation. Change the way you fit within the business - you're no longer in the front line, you'll take an objective view and remove yourself from that - your success is through their success. That really has to be a passion for somebody.’ - Leah Naffah, Head of Learning and Development @ i-Pharma Consulting.
Being a successful Learning and Development professional requires a different skill set from being a successful recruiter. So, be honest with yourself, does your skill set and your passions match? As recruiters, one of the things which we do every day is assess candidates and qualify whether they are suitable for the position you are recruiting for.
‘You grill candidates all day on this - do the competencies actually match your skills? Do your personality traits include patience, continuous improvement, and willingness to take feedback? If so, it’s a good start… if not, then you have to really think about it.’ - Bobby Banerjee, Learning and Development Coach @ SThree.
‘Understand how you were successful in sales - understand what you did and turn it into a training programme. In reality, it is about stripping back a process and being able to transfer that knowledge to somebody else, then make sure they're doing it.’ - David Curtis, Director @ Affinity Learning.
‘It is very different from sales, it is a completely different skill-set. People think if I know how to do it you can teach it. The real skill is the ability to transfer information to others and getting them to love learning.’ - Leah Naffah, Head of Learning and Development @ i-Pharma Consulting.
You know what Learning and Development is, you know you want to do it, you’ve decided you’re able to do it, so what are the main challenges you face once stepping in to a Learning and Development role?
‘Best general advice would be to have a fairly deep experience of recruitment in the first place, you can’t walk into a room full of recruiters without credibility- be able to tell your war stories, be honest and upfront about your successes and failures.’ - Jason Linney, Head of People @ Burns Sheehan.
‘You are now a senior strategic member of the business – your managers that you worked under will now be looking to you for advice. Some, on the other side of the coin, will be a little sceptical because you once worked for them, and are now working with them. You have to have a mind-set change and work out how to speak with these people.’ - Bobby Banerjee, Learning and Development Coach @ SThree.
You’re no longer a sales person; the superstar who gets all the accolades and incentive trips. You’re now part of the operational staff, you’re a coach and your success will be lived through the successes of those you’re training.
As a successful recruiter, you will be used to the big commission cheques and a healthy base salary. But this is a career change. You’re effectively stepping into a new industry, without stepping into a new industry. You will be back to the start and you will need developing as a trainer. But, it isn’t all doom and gloom. You certainly won’t go from going on holiday at the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah to having a long weekend at Butlins on vouchers you’ve cut out of a newspaper.
‘I took a paycut to take the role, but it wasn’t as big as I first thought – having the higher basic salary meant that mortgage applications are easier. You do miss the commission, as I remember a good few large payslips, but you also have to offset this by the fact you are not working the 60-hour weeks, restoring your work-life balance, and the perks of being able to go about bringing real organisational change were my main drivers.’ - Bobby Banerjee, Learning and Development Coach @ SThree.
‘I have worked with a number of candidates who have doubled their initial salary within four or five years in learning and development’. - Jon Martin, L&D Recruitment Consultant @ Camino Partners.
A career is L&D is an extremely rewarding career route to take. Make sure you have done your research and are ready to make the move. It is a career change and one that should not be taken lightly, but if you’re ready to take a leap of faith get in touch.
If you are interested in exploring a career in L&D, or want to discuss whether now is the right time for your business to bring on a training professional full time, speak to Jon Martin: firstname.lastname@example.org / 020 3805 5229.
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