What is the top L&D talent looking for in their next job?

Inspire Group COO, Suzanne Boyd, spent 15 years in the recruitment industry, latterly managing a finance and accounting recruitment business across Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. Over the past 7 years she has established a successful solution line at Inspire offering Learning and Development (L&D) contractors to clients, and also manages the overall recruitment at Inspire along with a number of other key functions. Suzanne shares the changes she’s noticed in the wants and needs of job seekers over the past 15 years.

I’ve spent many years talking to job seekers, listening to them explaining what I call their ‘Push Factors’ and ‘Pull Factors’.  Push Factors are the reasons why they’re leaving their current role, and Pull Factors are the elements that attract them to a potential new role.  It’s in these Pull Factors that I’ve noticed the biggest changes.

Here’s an interesting statistic; LinkedIn quotes that 90% of the professionals they surveyed said they’d be open to new opportunities. While it may not have been the case in the distant past, now, in the L&D industry, our staff are professionals and they’re increasingly seeking to be recognised as such. To achieve this, they often have to leave their current job and join an organisation that reflects a commitment to L&D that’s more than skin deep.

We’re at a bit of an advantage here at Inspire, given we talk with L&D professionals every day. Whether it’s to join our company or to work as one of our Associates, we hear many comments from job seekers, and there are some striking similarities about what they’re saying.  Here are the most common:

I want to be challenged to reach higher standards

All to often L&D professionals tell us they ‘fell into’ this field; they hadn’t planned on pursuing a role in learning, but now they’re working in the field they love it. Sadly though, we hear that much of what they, or their colleagues do, is boring, unimaginative, uninspiring, sometimes downright ‘bad learning’. They know they can offer more to an organisation that’s as committed to learning as they are and create learning that truly inspires their learners. They want this more than anything else, to be among high achievers and to be challenged to reach a higher level.

I want a place to prove myself as an expert in my field

For too long L&D hasn’t been recognised as a profession as much as, say, accounting.  Yet, it’s one of the oldest professions; training people to do their jobs better has been around since, well, since Adam was a cowboy. Top talent know they’re good and they want a place where they can prove it. They have ideas and feel stymied when they’re unable to execute them. Providing an environment where L&D professionals are treated as such, and giving them autonomy to be curious, creative and effective, is another key element in the list of Must Have’s when seeking a new job.

I need flexibility

One recent job seeker told me that, as a new father, he knew that times might get rough at home. Time off, the ability to finish work early, or to work from home to help with family issues, was critical to him. This needs to be shouted from the rooftops because it’s emerging as one of the top things that the best talent is seeking. Gone are the days of missing school shows or sports days. Job seekers are now assessing new roles based on how well they can integrate their ‘life’ with their work demands. For employers, this is easier than ever before given the advances in technology.

I want to be part of something more…

Even though salary is, initially at least, most often at the top of the list for all job seekers, they don’t want to be part of something that doesn’t have a higher purpose. Adding value, especially in the world of L&D, is central to attracting the best talent. This means, as an employer, you need to be able to articulate what your purpose is – why do you do what you do, other than to earn money? And you need to be able to share your plan to achieve your lofty goal. The cream of the crop as far as job seekers goes, want to join something that has a higher purpose, something that will improve the wellbeing of others and make their lives, jobs, relationships and more, better.

I need to have a boss I admire and can learn from

All too frequently I hear that people want to leave their current job because of the boss. Either they’re not learning from them or in some way the level of respect has gone. Usually it’s not one particular thing but a series of things, like tolerating bad behaviour or poor work performance from a colleague. Bosses should deal with that sort of stuff, right?!  Further, knowing why the boss gets out of bed with a spring in their step every morning, what drives them and keeps them motivated, is a major driver in whether someone will join your business.

I want a place where I can be my authentic self

I’m not a fan of talking about the new generation as if they’re an entirely new batch of humans with a totally different view on life, but I have to admit, there is a modicum of truth in this desire from job seekers, especially younger ones. Increasingly I’m hearing that they’re wanting to do what they do, as well as they possibly can, without having to impress bosses or get involved in politics. They want to work in a diverse team of open minded and non-judgemental individuals so they can be themselves and get to know their colleagues for real. They want to ‘find their tribe’.

I really want a place where I can be happy

“The purpose of our lives is to be happy.” – the Dalai Lama

Find out what makes your prospective candidate happy, and just do that.

Enough said?!

It’s important to me to feel proud of where I’m working

A recent new employee told me that she wanted to work for “an organisation that stood out in some way in their field; be it the biggest, most awarded, most unconventional, best known… just somehow set apart”. If you’re looking for people who are the best in their field, you’ve got to be the best in your field. But it doesn’t end there, you have to be able to make this known to job seekers in a way that resonates with them.

L&D professionals are becoming more specialised, more diverse and more talented. Attracting them to consider your organisation as a potential place to work through ads, social media or referral programmes, is a great start, but what’s hard, is whether you can prove that what your organisation has to offer is enough to help them make that final leap.  Most often it’s not the bells and whistles, it’s an authentic conversation with someone who will listen, no, really listen, and can demonstrate that what matters to that job seeker, does exist, right here at your place.

Categories: Learning | Learning Design

4 Responses to “What is the top L&D talent looking for in their next job?”

  1. Maree

    Spot on Suz – every point! And you’ve just created a great map for employers to guide them on their way to being a place great talent wants to join.

  2. Jill Calogaras

    After 25 years in the L&D profession I agree with your list of the things that push or pull us. The things L&D can offer can really help my employers’ people or business so I want to be able to get on and do it for them, and then see the benefits together with you all.

  3. Stephen Billing

    Nice article, Suzanne!

  4. Benjamin Aguesse

    Great read and amazing insight! It felt like I was reading about me.
    Thanks for sharing that Suz, like Maree said, a lot of organisations would be Inspired to leverage your suggestions.
    Keep posting.


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