Navigating a Path to Your Next Job

Monday, October 27, 2014

Are you embarking on your career as a talent development or learning professional? Whether you’re currently in the field, or just preparing to enter it, we have the tool for you! Using the ATD Career Navigator, you can explore and prepare for your career path—a virtual mentor, if you will.  It also becomes a tool to help you differentiate yourself during the interview process.  

What is it? 

The ATD Competency Model™, created by the Association for Talent Development (ATD), identifies the necessary skills for those working in talent development and L&D. The ATD Career Navigator helps professionals self-assess their skills against the competency model.  

There are two different assessments:  

  1. a self-assessment menu assesses your skills for your current job role or the one you are preparing to pursue 
  2. a career planning menu that compares your skills for different job roles. 

Once you have submitted your assessment, the ATD Career Navigator outputs a list of your strengths and skill gaps. In other words, it identifies any skills you self-assess as being below the proficiency level defined in the ATD Competency Model. 
The navigator also provides a personalized learning plan, which identifies exactly what learning opportunities are available to help you close any skill gaps. From your personalized learning plan, you can craft a short-term development plan, answering the question, “What do I want to work on first?”  

Why take this step?  It is likely—especially early in your career—that you may have multiple skill gaps, but it is neither possible nor desirable to try to close them all at one time. The personalized learning plan provides several resources to close a skill gap, including books, workshops, podcasts, and articles. The personalized plan makes it possible to select the learning opportunity that best fits your learning preference.  

Additionally, by creating a development plan, you can focus on your short-term plan with target completion dates, which will send you reminders to ensure you are making progress toward your goal. You may even add free-form activities to your development plan, both formal and informal, including on-the-job projects, coaching, or development offerings from your own organization. In this way, you will have one comprehensive plan that you control for your own development. 


Creating the development plan is just one step in your journey toward excellence, though. Once you complete the activities on your personalized learning plan, it is time to reassess your skills against the Competency Model. In fact, you can do this as frequently as you desire to uncover what skill gaps remain and determine which skills to close next—iteratively closing all your skill gaps over time. 

Differentiating yourself during a job interview 

The ATD Competency Model is comprised of eight different job roles (entry-, mid-, and senior-level):  

  • two executive roles
  • three management roles
  • three specialist roles. 

If you are early in your career, you will probably choose an entry level role, and it is likely to be a specialist position.   
For instance, let’s say you are interviewing for three different specialist positions: an instructional designer, a classroom trainer, and a knowledge management specialist.  You are finishing your education, and are not yet in a current role. Because these jobs are all variations of the specialist, entry-level role, you should perform a self-assessment. 

After submitting your assessment, you filter your results by competency, so you can look at the skill gaps and strengths against the instructional design competency, training delivery competency, and knowledge management competency. Now, you know exactly how to prepare for that interview. 

  • When your interviewer asks you what your strengths are for a specific role, you can offer a detailed list.  
  • When your interviewer asks you what your weaknesses for a specific role, you can outline learning opportunities (from your personalized learning plan) you intend to pursue to address them. In fact, because you can export results into an Excel, you may even filter a report for each interview. 

When comparing you to other applicants, your knowledge of your own capabilities and skill development plan will differentiate you from the pack. 
So don’t hesitate to start preparing for that next job. Access the ATD Career Navigator. It’s free!  

Want to see the ATD Career Navigator in action? Register for a special free webcast, “Create a Personalized Learning Plan,”  on Thursday, October 30 from 12:00-1:00 p.m.  EDT.


About the Author

Cheryl Lasse is SkillDirector’s managing partner. Her goal is helping people and companies achieve their potential. Cheryl has extensive experience with competency model development and implementation, and enjoys sharing her knowledge and passion with others. Check out the LinkedIn group Competency Models For Professional Development.

She believes people are intrinsically motivated to excel, if they are given access to a competency model for their role, the opportunity to assess themselves against that model, and personalized learning to help them close gaps and meet aspirational goals. This philosophy has been embodied in the Self-Directed Learning Engine, the engine behind the ATD Skill Tracker.

Cheryl has a strong background in consulting, marketing, and sales, mostly in technology companies, where training has played a chief role throughout her career. She holds bachelor’s degrees from Syracuse University in computer science and HR, and an MBA from the University of South Florida.

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