Chief Learning Officer (CLO), Master Facilitator, and Director of Learning and Development (L&D) are all roles in the L&D field that you may dream of obtaining one day. While it would be great to start our careers at the top of the pyramid, the reality is we need to work our way up. Luckily, as a learning professional, there is a wide variety of support roles in high demand that will also look great on a resume.
If landing a learning leadership job is your ultimate goal, you will need years of experience, a large network of allies singing your praises, and possibly even a little luck along the way. One way to get you closer to achieving your dream is to take on various supporting roles.
These types of jobs help get your foot in the door and allow you to gain valuable experience. Here are seven such support roles you should consider as you seek to get your L&D career started on the right foot.
The role of a Virtual Producer is quickly becoming a critical one for the success of online presentations, events, and webinars. These professionals are tech-savvy and possess a thorough knowledge of delivery platforms. As we have seen virtual instructor-led training become more common, this role is in high demand.
If you are still trying to determine your area of expertise, this is a great place to start. The skills you learn in this role will translate directly to your work in other areas of learning development.
Working with subject matter experts, making platform recommendations, and choosing engagement activities are essential parts of most learning and development projects. Mastering those skills as a Virtual Producer can provide a great foundation to build on.
If you prefer working behind the scenes, Narration and Voice-Over Acting might be the right fit. While the ability to speak well and communicate effectively is critical for this role, you rarely need to interact with anyone outside of your L&D team.
A study from 1992 conducted by researchers at the University of California determined voice-overs improve engagement among learners. While not everyone has the right voice for this type of role, getting started as a Voice-Over Actor does not have a high barrier for entry. There may be some upfront equipment costs such as a microphone, there are professional-quality audio editing tools for free such as Audacity that can help keep costs low.
As a professional Narrator, you will primarily work shoulder to shoulder with eLearning developers and Instructional Designers, mapping out the learning plan. Observing firsthand how these roles come together to create brilliant learning experiences could be the experience you need to decide your long-term career goals.
Excel gurus and analytical thinkers generally do well in this type of support role. Interpreting data to improve the learning experience is not a new trend in L&D. However, with technology providing more learner data than ever before, this position has become essential.
Supporting organization leaders as they determine strategy based on trends identified by the data. Creating reports, workflows and providing the initial analysis are also some of the primary functions of this role. In addition to working with data, troubleshooting to resolve problems for users is a big part of the job.
While your customers are internal to the organization, good customer service is still vital. These skills, along with problem-solving, effective communication, and data analysis, will go a long way as you apply for higher-level positions within the industry.
Visuals are a requirement for every learning solution I’ve been a part of creating. While stock images are helpful, giving your presentation a unique look and feel through custom graphics is a great option to have.
Developing your skills as a Graphic Designer will require practice. Unfortunately, the learning curve can be steep depending on the tools you choose. However, this support role is in high demand, and visual design is a skill set many L&D professionals to covet.
If you are getting started and are interested in visual design, consider Graphic Design as the first step in your journey.
You might already have figured out by now; writing is a critical part of any job in the L&D industry. The ability to communicate your thoughts effectively on paper is vital to success. As a writer, you practice this skill daily.
If you enjoy writing and want to improve in this area, the role of Technical Writer is worth considering. Technical writing is a style of writing requiring extensive research to ensure accuracy. This deep understanding of the topic translates well to identify the best use case for a learning solution.
With a never-ending list of topics to explore, there is always something to write. If you enjoy research and gaining a deeper understanding of specific topics, pick up a Technical Writing job and start learning.
A support role typically to a Director of Learning and Development coordinates the day-of logistics for training. These professionals support Learning Leaders with the administrative work of the L&D department.
Being less involved with the strategy and design in many cases, Training Coordinators bring the vision on paper to life through planning and project management. From scheduling training and sending invitations to the setup and breakdown of the learning environment, the number one priority of this role is execution.
Great for the Type-A person who enjoys leadership and is eager for a promotion. This position is a stepping stone and can help you transition into other leadership roles.
There are many philosophies to project management worth exploration. L&D professionals coming from other industries can smoothly transition into this type of support role because of the highly transferable skills it requires.
Project management professionals need skills like negotiation, conflict resolution, critical thinking, and time management. Thus your knowledge of L&D is far less essential than in other disciplines. Seeing the big picture and keeping everyone moving in the same direction is much more important.
If you are thinking about applying for an opportunity as a Project Manager, familiarize yourself with the Agile methodology. It has become a buzzword in the industry, and a strong foundational knowledge will help establish your credibility.
Support roles can lead to leadership opportunities. Chances are you won’t be landing your dream job right away. More than likely, you will need to take on a few other projects first before accepting the role you truly want.
Being open to a supporting role on learning projects allows you to work toward your longer-term goals while strengthening your skills and making you a more well-rounded candidate when the right offer comes along.
So while you’re waiting for that golden opportunity, find positions that allow you to add new skills to your resume and start applying.
What support roles have you taken on to grow your career? Which support role has given you opportunities to learn from other L&D leaders? Connect with us and share your experiences on LinkedIn!