31 Ways to Boost Your Learning Career – Part 1

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Image copyright https://www.123rf.com/profile_deviyanthi79

Author: Karen Moloney

If you’re reading this post, I’m taking a guess that you are likely to be one of the following:

  • Someone looking to switch careers and get into the learning profession
  • A learning professional looking to upskill in a new area, e.g. from face-to-face instructional design to eLearning design
  • A learning professional interested in keeping current, raising your professional profile and/or advancing your career
  • A manager of learning & development professionals looking for ways to develop your team.

Well, you are in the right place.

The inspiration for this post is the many calls and emails I’ve had over the years from people I have never met, who have been referred to me by people I know, in the hope I can point them in the direction of some kind of resource to assist their learning career development.

As an accidental instructional designer myself (thanks so much to Cammy Bean for coining that phrase – I love it!), I understand that career pathways in our industry are not as clear cut as they are for, say, an accountant or a lawyer.

Most of us fall into the learning roles we have, end up loving the work and wanting to stay forever.

But unless you work for an organisation with a strong culture of learning and managers who support your career growth, it can be difficult to navigate your way around the learnosphere.

So…

I have created this post in the hope that it will be read and shared by learning (and not-yet-learning) professionals to help themselves and each other in their quest for skills and knowledge.

We need to lead by example in our organisations and be constantly learning, questioning, analysing, discussing, sharing and trying new things.

And we need to put ourselves “out there” more.

I have met so many amazing and talented people in this profession that just don’t know how to blow their own trumpet – and that’s a shame because they have so much to contribute.

So without further ado, here are the first 16 of 31 ways to enhance your skills and grow your personal brand to give your learning career a boost this year. (To view the other 15, you will need to read Part 2.)

1. Attend conferences

Conferences are a great way to keep up to date with trends, find out what others are working on, network and check out new products and services available to the market via expos.

Locally, there are annual conferences arranged by AITD, NZATD, LearnX, ILP Worldwide, Learning Café (well, technically that’s an “unconference” but we’ll include it here anyway!) and Chief Learning Officer to name a few.

2. Attend webinars

Webinars in our industry are mostly free to attend and if there is a cost involved it’s usually not much.

They’re super convenient because they can (generally) be accessed from any device and most are recorded so you can consume the content at a time via a medium that suits you best.

Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook for updates on webinars happening in our time zone.

3. Join a Meetup group

If you haven’t heard of Meetup yet, then I suggest you hop on and start searching.

Meetups are locally organised events, in most cases free or low cost, that allow you to meet with other like minded people who share a common interest.

In our industry there are a few good ones operating which you will find if you search the Meetup site, e.g. ThirdPlace, Instructional Design & eLearning Meetup and Learning Café.

4. Start a Meetup group

If, after searching Meetup, you can’t find a local group to join, then why not start your own?

Take a look at what other groups are doing – how often they meet, how they communicate with members, etc., – and set up a page.

If you do start your own group, feel free to let me know and I’ll be happy to help you spread the word ????

5. Speak to a recruitment consultant

Even if you’re not looking for a new job, it’s useful to have a chat with a recruiter occasionally to assess opportunities in the market and do a bit of networking.

Not all recruiters are made equal though so it’s worth talking to one who really understands our industry, like Ekta Chauhan from HCi or Sheila Hall from Charterhouse Partnership.

6. Join a membership organisation

There are some great local membership organisations in the learning industry who are dedicated to helping you develop your career.

Annual fees vary along with benefits offered, but even if you join for the networking opportunities alone, they are worth it.

Look up AITD, NZATD and ILP Worldwide if you’d like to find out more about what’s on offer.

7. Enrol in a course

We come to work every day to create learning experiences for others, but how often do we invest in our own professional and personal development?

Whether its content related to using an authoring tool or instructional design or how mindfulness can help you at work, you will never make a better investment in anything than yourself.

Our calendar lists some great courses coming up and if you know of any others or would like to ask for our help in finding one, please feel free to get in touch.

 

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8. Review your CV

Even with tools like LinkedIn so prevalent in the recruiting world these days, your CV is still your ticket to getting a foot in the door, so it needs to make an impact on the reader.

When was the last time you updated the information in your CV, or the format/layout?

Even if you’re not in the market for a job right now, why not take the time to do a little review and ask yourself – would you hire you?

If you need some help snazzing up your CV, just Google “CV templates” and go from there.

If you are going to have a chat with a recruiter, as suggested above, ask them for feedback on your CV. After all, they see a lot of them and know what works.

9. Get a career coach

If you need some clarity on where you are going in your career, a coach can help you by asking the questions you probably wouldn’t ask yourself and challenging you to think differently.

There are lots of great coaches out there to choose from, but one I have worked with who specialises in this space is Faye Hollands from Outshine Consulting. She has some great resources available on her website too which are worth checking out.

10. Get a mentor

Who better to help you in your career journey than someone who’s already been there and done that?!

I’ve had several mentors throughout my career and they have been the most valuable source of inspiration, motivation and knowledge.

Member organisations like ILP Worldwide and AITD offer mentor programs and you can also seek out your own mentor.

This article from Forbes has some good advice if you choose to do the latter.

11. Set up or review your LinkedIn profile

Aside from company databases, LinkedIn is the number 1 tool used by recruiters when they are looking for people to fill a role.

There are over 3.5 million members across Australia and New Zealand, so if you want to be in the game, you need to be on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is also a fantastic place to network with others online, to learn about new things and to share what you know with others. I’ve been a LinkedIn user now for about 10 years and I spend time on it every day.

I have made some amazing connections there, learned some really interesting and useful things, and even landed myself clients that have spent over $1 million with my business – because they found me in a LinkedIn search.

If you want some tips on polishing your profile, we are running a free LinkedIn 5 Day Challenge mini course starting 27th March. Contact us if you’d like to join in.

12. Enter awards submissions

Who wouldn’t want to hire or work with someone who had won an industry award for their work?!

Being honoured by your peers with an industry award is as good a recommendation as you can get.

Awards submissions take a bit of effort to prepare, but if you plan ahead and put in the time, the rewards are worth it.

All the L&D member organisations here and overseas run awards programs, but if you want to start locally check out LearnX, ILP Worldwide and AITD, then have a look at Brandon Hall and Learning Technologies.

13. Join or host Twitter chats

Now I don’t mean the kind that involve Donald Trump – there are faaaaar more interesting conversations happening on Twitter!

Some regular chats you can hop into are #pkmchat, #lrnchat and #ldinsight.

If you’re new to Twitter, or have not taken part in a live chat before, here’s some tips on getting started.

14. Start a blog

I love writing for my blog.

I need to make more time to write because I have a list of over 200 ideas for blog posts.

Seriously.

There are lots of different views on how to blog, but having followed many successful blogs and researching content marketing there are some key tips I want to share with you:

  • First and foremost be yourself. People connect with authentic people, so stay true to you, your values and your voice. A couple of people doing this really well in our industry are Ryan Tracey and Helen Blunden.
  • Write for online.  People can’t read online the same way they would read a document so make it easy for them by spacing out your text and using decent sized readable fonts.  Blogging like you are writing an academic paper is not going to work.
  • Educate yourself about blogging. There are heaps of sites with information on how to blog – here’s one of my favourites.
  • Promote your posts. There’s not much point writing if you don’t share your work, so get online and take it to the people!  As well as writing on your own blog, you should share it via posts on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. You can also create the post as an article on LinkedIn, Medium and beBee and I suggest using the phrase “This post was originally published on {your website with hyperlink}” so that people can read more of your posts if they choose.

15. Specialise

As the learning industry booms, it’s attracting more people so how can you stand out from the crowd and position yourself as a sought after professional?

With a largely unregulated industry it can be hard to differentiate one professional from another which often leaves highly skilled people out in the cold when it comes to jobs or contracts.

And that’s a real shame.

With the way our industry is evolving we now have so many tools and methodologies to help us in our work and while it’s good to be “across” as many of those as possible, why not pick one and specialise?

If I’m an L&D manager in an organisation using 70:20:10 or Articulate Storyline, I’m looking for that one stand-out candidate who knows that thing inside out and has experience to back it up.

One of my fave authors Seth Godin writes about this as the act of being remark-able – that you have or do something that makes people make remarks about you.

Check out the book Purple Cow to see what I mean.

While this is written as a business book, if you consider yourself as a business and a brand you will find some great insights in here.

16. Start a podcast

Many people (including some in our industry) started podcasts a few years ago, didn’t get much traction and then stopped publishing.

What they probably didn’t realise was that they were ahead of their time.

In 2017 however,  84% of Australians own a smartphone and podcast consumption is on the rise.

Over 35 million people were listening to podcasts weekly in 2016 and growth of the podcast consumer audience is up 23% year on year.

None of those numbers are to be sniffed at.

And when you understand that podcasting can be done inexpensively and quickly AND you can have fun doing it, why wouldn’t you?

It’s a much better medium to connect with people than just blogging, although done in tandem it can be quite powerful.

Here’s a complete guide to podcasting for beginners to help you get started.

 

Which one of these ideas will you be implementing this week/month/year?

 

Want more tips? View Part 2 of this post here.

 

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2017-08-18T23:26:04+00:00