Core Competencies of Talent Development

Build Your Base: What Are the Essential Skills for Talent Development and How Can You Learn Them?

By: Alex Moore

Have you gotten a taste of working in adult education and want more? If you, like many others, hope to transition into talent development from another career, you may want to consider how you’ll develop all the skills you’ll need.

Jobs for internal training consultants, for example, often request applicants to have knowledge of adult education theory, familiarity with specific types of software, a background in classroom training, and the ability to evaluate learning. And these are only the basic qualifications; many job postings in talent development demand that applicants also bring excellent business acumen, high-end interpersonal skills, and strong project management experience.

So, why do new talent development professionals need to become so well-rounded?

The reasons can vary. For example, talent development professionals at small organizations may work alone or on very small teams, making them responsible for all aspects of professional development—from delivering new employee classroom training to evaluating the results of an executive development program. At large organizations, which often develop more technology-based learning than small organizations, a talent development professional may need to master designing and delivering content across several mediums, such as traditional e-learning and mobile learning.

No matter what size the organization, most talent development professionals can divide their essential skills into four broad categories: training delivery, instructional design, measurement and evaluation, and learning technology. When talent development professionals master these skills, they should be confident in their ability to:

  • Design training programs that truly change behavior and improve performance.
  • Develop and deliver events that engage learners.
  • Evaluate the impact of their solutions using a variety of methods.
  • Create engaging and effective e-learning experiences and understand the fundamentals of learning.

Combined, these skills should allow a you to carry a learning program from inception to implementation, and then share the outcomes with business leaders. They fulfill the requirements of many postings for full-time talent development jobs.

So, how can talent development professionals develop these foundational skills?

One option is to self-develop. With plenty of resources online—ranging from academic journals to specialized blogs from L&D professionals around the world—teaching yourself the basics is possible on a shoestring. Another option is to pursue a formal academic degree in learning and development. Almost half (47 percent) of talent development professionals have master’s degrees, according to the 2017 ATD Research report How Does Your Pay Stack Up?, and many universities offer degrees in adult education or related fields.

For those who want a more structured experience than self-development can offer, but don’t want to invest the time or money required to pursue an advanced degree, other options exist. First, new talent development professionals in the United States can join local chapters of ATD, which can provide networking opportunities, workshops, and other local events. Second, individuals might consider attending a larger conference, such as ATD’s Core 4.

The Core 4 conference is a two-day event structured around four essential skills for L&D professionals. It has more than 25 education sessions, three keynote speakers, and many opportunities to network with peers. Register today to begin your career journey.