Dear Jo: Hiring Temporary Learning Consultants

Dear Jo: Hiring Temporary Learning Consultants
Summary: When it comes to hiring temporary Learning and Development consultants, what considerations should I keep in mind? Industry veteran Jo Coulson tackles a reader question with help from Rodrigo Salazar, Manager of Talent Solutions at SweetRush.

Corporate Training Insights From An Industry Insider: How To Hire The Best Temporary Learning Consultants

Dear Jo,

I’ve been considering hiring contract workers to help us with the sudden increase in our workload. While I’ve interviewed and hired numerous Learning and Development professionals for full-time positions, I wonder if there are different considerations when hiring temporary learning consultants. Thanks in advance for your response.

Dear Darlene,

The short answer is “yes.” I know from my own experience that there is a difference between hiring for temporary versus full-time positions. Frankly, I sometimes found it a bigger challenge to find the right temporary Learning and Development (L&D) consultants than it was to find permanent team members.

I've seen the use of temporary staff skyrocket over the past several years and become a standard part of talent management. L&D budgets and demands being what they are, adding permanent staff is often a challenge, and yet as the demand for output grows, temporary staff can be the perfect solution.

To best respond to your question, I decided to go to the source, my colleague Rodrigo Salazar. Rodrigo heads up Talent Solutions at SweetRush. I posed your question to him, and here is his response.

"Great question, Jo, and in my response lie some key elements of what makes for a successful engagement for our clients and for learning consultants as well. Allow me share a few ideas:

  1. With temporary learning consultants you do not have the luxury of time to train, so I recommend that you hire talent with the right prior experience — someone who can hit the ground running.
  2. Keep in mind that with temporary staff you have the luxury of hiring those special skill sets that might not fit into a long-term staffing plan. A good example of this is hiring an Instructional Designer with experience in Articulate Storyline® or perhaps a graphic or user interface designer. You might not need that expertise all the time, but if it is critical to the success of a specific project, a temporary learning consultant can be the right fit.
  3. Sometimes you need someone with a variety of skills who can fill in several gaps — what I like to call a “learning generalist.” This is often the case for our clients. If this is your situation, working with a staffing firm like ours that also specializes in learning can provide great benefits, because the learning consultant can draw on the skills and expertise of the larger firm.
  4. Hire someone with the right attitude for success — a learning consultant with a “can do” attitude who is a self-starter and takes ownership. You’ll spend less time handholding and getting the consultant grounded by ensuring your talent is a professional who will be proactive and engaged from day one.
  5. Don’t short-change the interview process, even though it’s a temporary hire. You don’t need to make it a 10-round interview marathon, but you do need to take time to make sure this individual is the right fit for the assignment. We relieve a great deal of the interview burden by interviewing, vetting, and culling candidates in advance, so our clients have to meet only talent we’ve already deemed worthy for the assignment. This allows clients to focus on qualified candidates and drill down on detailed questions specific to the project and company culture.
  6. Be as clear as possible about your expectations and deliverables during the interview process. If the picture is unclear —and sometimes it is— then hire a professional who can thrive even in ambiguous environments."

These are excellent suggestions from Rodrigo, and I would add only one additional suggestion to the mix. Once you have found your ideal talent, find ways to integrate him or her into your existing team. This may be an e-mail welcome outlining your temporary learning consultant’s role and experience, assigning a buddy, setting aside time for a team meet-and-greet, or all three. Embracing all of your talent within a strong team culture will help set you up for success.

Thanks, Darlene, for your question, and best of luck with your recruiting process!


Do you have a question? I'd love to help. Send your question to me at [email protected]!

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