Reasons You Hire Instructional Designers For: Skills Vs. Attitude

Reasons You Hire Instructional Designers For: Skills Vs. Attitude
Summary: As a Hiring Manager seeking great Instructional Design talent in a market that's still growing rapidly, should you ever settle for attitude over technical skills?

Why Do You Hire Instructional Designers: For Skills Or Attitude?

According to a recent report on Reuters [1], the eLearning market is projected to reach a value of $275 billion worldwide by the year 2022. Experts say that this big explosion is due to the increasing number of organizations that are taking training development efforts in-house. From a recruitment standpoint, this boon to the eLearning market means that it will become harder to find the skilled Instructional Designers to fill all the new jobs that are on the horizon.

Yet, at the same time, there is an increasing volume of candidates coming from other industries who are eager to land new careers, including in L&D. They have the right mindset to make great Instructional Designers if given the chance.

As a Hiring Manager, you may be faced with evaluating Instructional Design talent for a variety of technical skills and professional attributes. This can be somewhat frustrating because, for the most part, Instructional Design talent can come from a wide range of experiences, and there are no two who possess the same set of skills. It’s possible that you are reviewing resumes and not finding a direct link to the skills that you are advertising for. In this case, is it wise to hire Instructional Designers for skills or attitude?

When I worked as part of a learning and design team at a software company a couple years ago, there was a general lack of talent out there. It got so my director and I were hiring former teachers, trainers and others who did not have the technical skills, but whom had the basics of adult learning theory down and were willing to learn the technology. It was a bit of a learning curve, but hiring the people with the right attitude made a huge difference in the team dynamics and fortitude.

Things have improved somewhat, as evidenced by the talent here on eLearning Industry, however, it’s still nearly difficult to find the right talent at times to fit each job 100%. There is no ‘perfect’ Instructional Design candidate out there, let’s be honest here. But if you find someone who has a strong foundation of learning from a previous background, or has some recent training, this can be a good way to go in your recruitment efforts.

Now, I am not saying there is a substitute for learning technology. As professionals in this field, we all know how important it is to understand how learning content gets created, organized, and laid out for learners using a variety of Learning Management Systems and platforms. From onboarding to advanced leadership training, it’s critical for talent to understand how employees learn and how to deliver outstanding content. For other fields, such as K-12 and college education, it’s equally important to understand the human mind at all stages of development and how learners take in information for later recall.

On the technical side of things, there is room for candidates to become trained. Many LMS and course development programs are simple to learn. Others may require some hands-on training in order to users to become proficient, but this is something that all new hires generally run into. With an Instructional Design candidate who has a good attitude, this comes naturally. This is someone who is eager to learn new things, improve skills and use problem-solving in the meantime.

Alison Green, a columnist with Inc. [2], shared that it really just depends on the job itself. She said, "There are some jobs where it might make sense to hire for attitude and teach the work itself when it won't require a major investment of time to do so. There are other jobs where experience and a pre-existing skill set are essential".

Take a close look at the Instructional Design job you are recruiting for presently. Is there some room for someone to learn the skills needed, using available resources or in a reasonable amount of time? Or do you need someone who is ready from day one to tackle the projects at a high level expected by a more seasoned pro? It’s ultimately up to you which approach you take in your recruitment.


  1. Global E-Learning Market 2017 to Boom $275.10 Billion Value by 2022 at a CAGR of 7.5% – Orbis Research
  2. Is It Better to Hire for Skills or Attitude?