Let’s face it, good help can be hard to find and building your team can be quite the adventure. I have had the opportunity to manage a team of E-learning developers in the past of many different skill and experience levels. During that time, I’ve made note of the qualities to look for when hiring a new member of my team. In this blog post I’ll cover some of the basic things I look for when hiring. Normally when I recruit for my team, I have the expectation that the E-learning developer will be responsible for creating an E-learning course from beginning to end. With that in mind, below are the key areas that I take into consideration when compiling my list of what to look for when hiring an E-learning Developer (In no particular order):
One of the most overlooked aspects when hiring an E-learning developer is whether or not the candidate has good writing skills. In my opinion, this is a very important trait to have. Writing will be used in all phases of the E-learning development process, from communicating with SMEs to writing the narration for the E-learning module. In addition, I feel that story telling is an important part of creating an effective and engaging learning experience, so having the ability to craft a clever story or scenario will come in handy.
Instructional Design Knowledge
While I don’t think that an E-learning developer needs to have a degree in Instructional Design or Adult Learning Theory, I do believe that the developer should have a good basic foundation in Instructional Design. The developer should at minimum be able to be properly create objectives, create assessments and logically chunk content into a way that it is easily digested by the learner. (This one may seem like an obvious skill you would want to look for, but there are some teams structured in such a way that the E-learning developers are required only to build out the courses after an Instructional Designer has developed the content.)
In my opinion, the best E-learning developers are individuals who have the ability to learn new things quickly. On any given E-learning project, the developer may be required to become a SME on the systems and/or topics that will be presented in the module. In addition, there are also a large number of E-learning development tools that the candidate may have to quickly become proficient with for the successful completion of a project. Having an individual who adjusts well to new situations and new tools is definitely an asset.
Graphic/Visual Design Skills:
This skill is very important to me because visual design is one of my main interests. While I don’t expect every member of my team to be a graphic designer, I do prefer for them to have a strong visual design sense. What I mean by that, is that I don’t require my team members to be able to create their own icons and user interfaces, but I do expect them to know what images and content look visually pleasing. For example, someone with good visual design skills will never use blurry or distorted graphics. They will know what fonts look good and what colors blend well together. They will also know how to visually balance a screen so that there isn’t too much to overwhelm or distract the learner. Of course, when someone does have the ability to create custom graphics and design user interfaces, it is always a welcome bonus.
In a similar way that there are a certain people who have a knack for writing, pubic speaking, or teaching, I believe certain people have a knack for E-learning development. A good E-learning developer will have the ability to take content that may be boring or difficult to teach, but will be able to develop a course that is both informational and enjoyable to the learner. They will have a good overall combination of many of the traits I have listed on this blog post along with a big dose of creativity.
True Interest In E-learning:
I’ve have always said that when you hire someone who truly enjoys what they are doing, you will see it in their work. An E-learning developer who really enjoys developing is more likely to stay informed on the latest tools and trends in the industry. They will also be willing to try new and innovative things which will result in a better learning experience for your audience. I also find that candidates who have a true interest in E-learning are more proficient in the development tools because they are more eager to learn and use different functionality. Someone who merely applies for your job because they need a paycheck is more likely to just do the job and crank out a plain boring course for you as long as they achieve the bare minimum. Always remember, a happy employee is a productive employee.
Good Attitude/Team Fit
No matter how skilled your potential candidate may be; you may want to think strongly before making that job offer if they aren’t a good fit for your team’s personality. Having a team that enjoys working together and has good chemistry goes a long way in both attracting and retaining talent. All it takes is one weak link to make your entire team lose focus.
After reading this blog post up to this point, you might be asking yourself, “Does a person with all of these qualities exist?” The answer is yes, but they are definitely hard to find. You will be lucky if you have one or two people on your team that possess all of the qualities I have listed above on your team. With that said, what can you do if you can’t quite find someone who has all of the qualifications? My advice is to pick two or three of the qualities that are most important to you and focus on finding an individual who matches them the best. If you are in a team setting, make an effort to hire team members who have skills that compliment one another. For example, you may have an E-learning developer who excels at graphic design and creativity, but may not be a great writer. Conversely, you may have an E-learning developer who has great writing skills and experience in instructional design, but isn’t very good visually. Consider pairing the two up for a project so that they can balance each other out and leverage their strengths. (Please note that there are some traits that I’ve listed above that you won’t know if your candidate has until you have worked with them for a while.)
Building a great team can be tough, but it can be very rewarding once you get all of the right pieces in place. I’m sure you have things you look for that I have not mentioned (or things that I’ve said that you disagree with), so I’d love to hear from you. Leave me a few comments and let me know what you feel are important qualities to look for when you hiring for your team.