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Top 7 Skills & Competencies to Look for in a Learning Designer

Written by Julia Borgini

Published on October 11, 2017

Working at a tech company, you need to hire people with specific skills that will help you grow and evolve the company and its products. Software companies have a particular rhythm and culture that not everyone can deal with. Add in the experience and skills you need as an instructional designer or learning experience designer and finding the right people can be a challenge.

So, what are the top skills and competencies to look for when hiring a learning designer in a fast-paced tech company?

Deep level of understanding of learning models

Knowing and understanding how people best learn is critical as it'll help designers produce the most engaging content possible. Examples include ADDIE, SAM, Kirkpatrick's Levels of Training Evaluations, and blended learning.

Job posting examples

  • Create engaging learning activities and compelling course content that enhances retention and transfer.

 Passion for knowledge and learning

The best designers are ones who have a passion for knowledge and learning. After all, that passion shows through in their course designs. They're constantly looking for new ways to help students learn and are always focused on the outcome of learners. They should be experts in their field and know who the other experts are. Many instructional designers are published authors, speakers, and industry leaders themselves because of this passion.

Job posting examples

  • Develop new ways to make courses and instructional media delivery more effective, efficient and beneficial to a global audience.

  • Conduct instructional research and analysis in a variety of business and technical domains.

Above-average communication skills

Since they're working in the technology market, it's imperative that instructional designers be able to communicate complex topics in terms people can understand. They must possess superior verbal and written communication skills, because even if they're not the ones delivering the content, they must be able to dig in to the topic in every way possible (via writing and conversations).

Job posting examples

  • Must be a very collaborative team player; this is not just you working as an island, we do a great deal of joint project work.

Learning technology usage experience

Learning designers must have updated skills on the latest learning tech in order to create, develop, manipulate, and share learning content.

Job posting examples

  • Adapt instructional materials created for one format to another format (for example, adapting materials designed for instructor-led training to e-learning.

  • Experience with Articulate, Learndash, InDesign, etc.

Project management skills (tech and non-tech skills)

Courses today are not just single-type delivery courses, so it follows that learning designers will need the skills to produce multiple content types in their work. They will probably be asked to project manage the entire process of their own course development and possibly other courses being produced by their customer education team as well. Key skills and competencies in this include good prioritization skills, communication skills, and high organizational ability in order to keep the work on track.

Job posting examples

  • Ability to prioritize work in a deadline-driven environment.

  • Experience with Basecamp, Trello, Jira, Asana, or equivalent.

Visual and design skills

People learn in many different ways and customer education programs must keep pace with this. Not only that, but there are many different tech tools instructional designers can use to create all of these content types. It's critical that designers have a bit of a flare for visual design and the skills to produce the visual content they need for their courses. To take your customer education programs to the next level, you may want to look for a higher artist level in order to create storyboards, create imagery out of ideas, and presenting facts in an innovative and creative way.

Job posting examples

  • Provide expertise in adapting current curricula to alternative delivery channels such as e-learning, self-study packages, seminars, etc.

  • Experience creating visual elements such as infographics, flowcharts, and more.

Understanding how to assess learning programs

Learning designers must know how to create powerful and meaningful assessments to accompany courses. Their organizations then use this information to measure the success of courses, so knowing how to elicit the right information is critical.

Job posting examples

  • Decide on the criteria used to judge learner’s performance and develop assessment instruments

While you'll be hard-pressed to find a learning designer that demonstrates elite-level skills and competencies in these 7 areas, you're sure to find ones that have a good number of them. Look at your own tech organization, customer education team, and overall business goals and then choose the ones that are most important to you. Your next amazing learning designer hire could be just one job posting away.


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