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Finding your niche as a digital learning professional

For as long as we’ve been recruiting in the e-learning industry we’ve seen the market adapt to the ever-changing learner needs and innovate with the latest technologies. With the rise of mobile learning, the buzz of gamification and the boom of the 70-20-10 approach, the market has seen a requirement for niche skill sets.

From short term trends that require fast learning professionals, to new developments that are set to change the industry for the foreseeable.

What niche skills have we come across?

Understanding skill sets is what we do, whether that be our Consultants or Talent Executives. By taking briefs and reading job descriptions every day our consultants understand what type of individual our clients require, and our Talent Executives know how to find these candidates with specific searches through our professional database.

We asked the team what skill sets stood out for niche disciplines, which at a glance included: Social Learning, Blended Learning and Learning Experience Design. These skills sets can be relevant to a number of roles within digital learning including Learning Implementation Managers and Learning Design Consultants. But the list doesn’t stop there, niche skill sets can also be valuable for more open job titles such as Instructional Designers and Learning Developers.

How to find your niche

“But how do I find a niche” we hear you say, well here are just a few tips to help you think about a possible move to a niche role.

Firstly, you will need analyse your current skills set, if you’re an active candidate this should be a little easier to do as you create or update you CV. However, even if you are not looking for a new opportunity it’s a great habit to get into - understanding what you offer as a learning professional in your current position. Finding out if you have any skills that make you stand out from the crowd, and if you have acquired specialist skills that can be transferred to a new position. Or do you even have weaknesses that can also be drawn upon, could you upskill in a certain area. You may require experience in a certain authoring tool – take advantage of free trials. Or possibly you need to improve your design skills - there could be a YouTube tutorial on this. It’s all about expanding and building on your current skill set.

Where do your interests lie - is it the subject matter, your audience or perhaps the materials you create that drive you your passion for digital learning. Does anything catch your attention – perhaps gamification or mobile learning, VR and AI are becoming a hot topic at many events such as the Learning Technologies and eLearning Network workshops. Do you have experience in responsive authoring tools, or want to use your design skills to create content for MOOCs. Knowing your passion could help you on your way to finding your niche.

As a niche learning professional, it doesn’t mean that you still can’t expand your skill sets beyond your chosen discipline. You may be missing skills in other areas that may have a positive impact on the design and development of materials and tools. So, as we have mentioned in numerous blogs, it’s all about continuous learning – through blogs, free books, courses, forums and groups; as well as talking to professionals in your network at events and seminars. You may not find your perfect role straight away, but with a commitment to personal development by expanding your knowledge than this will help you switch between roles until you find your passion in niche learning!

If you work in a niche role – how did you come to find yourself there? It would be great to know if there are any other paths that have led you to find your speciality.