Consistently landing consulting jobs in the Learning and Development (L&D) industry can be frustrating, especially if you’re just getting started.
Getting the attention of recruiters or hiring managers is not an exact science. In fact, sometimes, it just boils down to being available at the right time. Aside from luck, there are several things you can do to stand out from the competition when you find a consulting job you really want.
After all, you can’t build a successful brand and reputation as a top-notch L&D practitioner if you never find work. Consequently, anything you can do to accelerate finding your next consulting gig is worth the effort.
Every consultant has a version of the same story. We have all had our struggles along the way, but a little persistence and sweat equity will go a long way.
With that said, I will share three things every consultant should do before submitting their next application.
Everyone has a resume, or at least they should. However, leveraging social media to highlight your skills and relevant work experience is a great way to gain traction on the job hunt. According to a recent industry study by SHRM, over 80% of organizations are currently doing some level of recruiting on social media.
LinkedIn is built for networking. So, don’t be shy…be active, be seen, and be heard. Your social media profile gives hiring managers more information about your skills and experience, but connecting with other L&D professionals is the best way to increase your visibility.
Always be on the lookout for active, like-minded consultants and recruiters. When you find them, ask them to connect, and when you do, always take a minute to include a personal note about why you’re interested in connecting.
Visit the pages of companies you’d like to work for, review their job listings, connect with employees and leave comments on their posts.
No matter how much experience you have, find ways to highlight skills relevant to the jobs you want to be considered for most. For example, look for past experiences where you demonstrated the skills required for your desired role. Then, make those achievements and responsibilities the focus of your resume. Doing this will help hiring managers connect the skills they are looking for to your expertise.
Another highly effective option is to join discussion groups with other L&D professionals. They are great avenues for meeting people and staying on top of what skills and topics trend in the industry.
Taking the time to make adjustments to your profile and regularly engaging in discussions will increase your visibility. Before long, your inbox will start filling up with connection and interview requests.
The next thing you need to do is start creating a portfolio. Although you don’t have many work samples, it can be a little intimidating, but don’t let that stop you. Having an online portfolio is quickly becoming an expectation for L&D consultants.
Web-based portfolios are all about visualizing your resume. It allows recruiters and hiring managers a chance to review your abilities before reaching out. Think of it as your first interview. It is a great way to put your best foot forward! There are a tremendous number of resources online to help you.
Here are some of my personal favorites:
- This detailed walkthrough on creating a portfolio for consultants by Devlin Peck was highlighted in an issue of the Weekly L&D Roundup
- Developer Nick Babich has twelve tips to help make your portfolio stand out
- If Babich’s 12 tips don’t get it done, here are twenty more easy tips for creating your portfolio
- Consultant Christy Tucker has thirty more ideas for creating a portfolio
Your skills need to align with the type of consulting job you want to build a strong portfolio. To put it another way, a portfolio of graphic design samples doesn’t help much if you’re looking for a job in technical writing.
Think critically about which skills are essential to showcase and make every word count. If you don’t have the right projects to put into your portfolio right now, there are endless opportunities to create samples all around.
Some other ways to find projects to round out your portfolio include:
- Using an idea generator tool
- Volunteering with local networking groups
- Finding apprenticeship opportunities
Consulting jobs come in a variety of flavors and durations. So, a strong portfolio that shows your ability to complete different types of projects could be the difference between getting hired or having another day off.
Building a community of supportive individuals is vital for any L&D professional. As you begin looking for consulting jobs taking time to connect with others is important. You never know who you are going to meet. There’s always the chance a new relationship could lead to a consulting job!
Networking is a great way to identify mentors, connect with peers, or find work. As you start networking, look for peers willing to share their own experiences. Then stay in contact with them to deepen the relationship. In short, you are creating a network of mentors—people who can tell you what to expect when looking for the right consulting job.
In addition to mentors, you should intentionally connect with other consultants and talent agencies. These two groups can help you stay up to date on industry trends and stay on the cutting edge of new technology.
Talent agencies also provide the added value of helping you find consulting jobs that match your skillset.
The best part, you can do all of this networking from home!
Whether you are new to consulting or have been working at it for a while, setting up shop on LinkedIn, creating a slick online portfolio, and brushing up on your networking skills are three surefire ways to elevate your brand and have your pick of projects.
There are many opportunities to find consulting jobs as an L&D practitioner. The more you stand out in the crowd, the easier it will be to get them.
How long have you been consulting? Have you taken any of these steps outlined above? Are you currently look for consulting jobs? If so, take a few minutes to set up your profile, then be sure to check out our current job listings!