4 Things to Look for Before Hiring a Training Professional

You hire a training professional usually because your organisation is seeking some kind of professional development; considering that recent Gallup data from the U.S. indicates that on average, only 32% of staff are engaged, 51% are unengaged, and 17% are actively disengaged, it would stand to reason that getting the right training professional on board is not only favourable, but essential – if your aim is to motivate and keep that 32% engaged, and bring around the other 68%.

Add to that, the fact that online learning is a growing industry; in fact, according to Forbes, the global market for online learning is estimated to be worth $325 billion in 2025, up from $165 billion in 2014. It’s no surprise that there’s a mad rush to get onto this fast growing bandwagon, and you’ll find that most subject matter experts worth their salt will have a bank of digitalised intellectual property which they may offer to their clients in blended learning options or for face to face delivery. Training organisations will offer similar options so there is literally now a myriad of options to choose from.

So how do you know who’s the real deal? What should you be looking for before you hire a training professional? Should you trust that a training organisation will send you the right person? Can you trust subject matter experts who are not affiliated with a training organisation?

All very good questions.

I got burned. You don’t need to.

I’ve seen the most insane amount of lunacy when it comes to online business coaches and professional contractors, but I’ve also been bored silly in a training session with a ‘professional’ sent in from a training organisation. I’m sure you’ve had similar experiences.

There really is no correlation between where the trainer comes from, and how suited to your organisation or staff they will be.

Let’s look at the freelance contractors to start with.

I work with consummate professionals every day, who are working for themselves and enjoying enormous success with their clients. Their skills, ‘qualifications’ and experience in the field gives them what they need to tailor programs and deliver high quality, personalised, outcomes based training that gets results, and strikes at the heart of what an organisation really needs. They get raving testimonials and enjoy referrals from old clients to prospective clients.

On the flipside, early on in my business journey, I was burnt fairly badly by pseudo-professionals masquerading as ‘the real deal’. I was keen to learn as much as I could about running a business online so I found people who were ahead of me in the game and purchased access to quite a few ‘basic entrepreneurial training’, courses and groups.

These ‘professionals’ and courses LOOKED amazing from the sales page, but once I was inside, they were disorganised, there weren’t really any outcomes to work towards, there were pointless worksheets (if any) and a general directive to ‘share your thoughts in the Fakebook group’ which you were lead to believe is the way you’d really learn the concepts – i.e. – from other people – not actually from the training itself or with the help of the facilitator. I rest my case.

The same polar opposites can be found when working with training organisations. 

If you don’t have any choice as to who they send out to you, you’re putting your faith in their ability to choose trainers who are not only experienced and qualified, but also available and suited to the needs of your organisation – can you trust they know what you need and what is in your best interests? Or are they sending you whoever they have that loosely fits the bill?

Whether they’re a freelancer or a training organisation, they’ll all have a website which is essentially a beefed up business card, constructed to convince you that they are, the real deal. 

The reality, is that a lot of what glitters in the online world, simply ain’t gold…

There are graphic artists and copywriters who can make you look like God’s gift to the entrepreneurial or corporate world if that’s the look you’re after. Photographers can snap you in your designer outfit, in your Swedish-simplicity-styled-studio-set, sipping sumptuous champagne, with the breeze lightly blowing through your perfectly coifed hair. Ready to buy from her yet? She’s hot. Sex sells. We all know this right? But do we remember that as we’re getting sucked into the sales page?

Don’t get me started on flawless stock images of unscrupulously clean desks, meticulously prepared flat-lays or supermodels in Lululemon yoga outfits. Corporate organisations can source stock images that make their workplace look like something out of another world but how do you know what really goes on behind those doors? Do the images or the sales copy have anything to do with the quality that will arrive on your doorstep to deliver the training?

Don’t be sold on the thin veneer of supposed reality that Fakebook ads or glossy websites can lead you to believe.


So are you hiring a fake veneer or a professional who has the goods?

It’s hard to know sometimes.

Subject matter experts who can deliver training that will hit the mark for your organisation, will have repeated long term business success – and that comes from building good relationships, providing life time value, and delivering products and services that give so much value that their clients do their marketing for them.

Here’s why I rarely look for glossy websites or paper qualifications when I’m hiring a professional, and exactly what I DO look for – because I’m done spending time and money on empty promises and ‘experts’ who simply aren’t coming up with the goods.


1.  Verifiable Qualifications.

By qualifications I don’t necessarily mean pieces of paper, because in all honesty, they don’t mean much unless they’re backed up with good, solid, outcomes based experience and evidence. Take the university lecturer who has a PhD and 20 years experience boring the living daylights out of his students, versus the ‘self-trained’ expert with 20 years experience and 5 International awards under her belt. Who would you prefer to learn from? I know who I’d choose!

Having ‘qualifications’ means that they’re qualified to be doing what they’re doing because they’ve done it – a number of times before, and they have the evidence to prove those outcomes. They can cite clients, projects, awards and outcomes that span years, not months, and they freely give the links to websites they’ve worked on, contact details of clients who will attest to their brilliance or any other details so you can verify their stories for yourself.


2.  Dependable References.

Real references. Not designer pictures taken of ‘Mary’ next to a throw away comment, without any link to a website, company or other means of verifying whether the testimonial is actually real. Most of the experts I work with now are people who I’ve been recommended to, by friends or acquaintances I trust – because they’ve had first hand experience working with them and know they’re a match for what I need.

I don’t expect a cut (pardon the pun) on the sale my hairdresser makes because I referred someone. I rave about him because he deserves it. Go on the advice of people who are openly and freely recommending someone based on their experience of working with them, not just because they’re getting a kickback.


3.  Fair Terms and Conditions, and fully insured.

When experts have terms and conditions, they’re prepared. Putting down cold hard cash for solid, legally binding Terms and Conditions and being fully insured, also shows that they’re serious about their business, they’re in it for the long haul, and they’ve taken the time to create a working framework that is fair for them AND for you, the client.

Be wary of any ‘expert’ who expects you to pay up front, for months in advance, without any ability to get a refund or change the scope of the working arrangement. The provision of a product and service are very different, and those ‘coaches’ who expect up-front payment for months of ‘services’ in advance, without any avenue for a refund?

Well let’s get realistic here. What workplace in the real world would give you 6 months (or a year!) of your salary upfront? Ummm. None. Right? If you’re a professional and you take on a client, you also should be paid for the services that you render, in a timely fashion. Sure, down-payments and upfront payments for projects that have a clear outcome and timeframe are completely sensible, protect the contractor, and motivate the client to take action.

Use your initiative. If it smells like a scam and sounds like a scam there’s a fair chance the ‘professional’ in question is a sham. End of story.


4.  They are passionate, 100% transparent, honest and open about what they do.

What that means, is that via their website or at least over the phone, they can easily explain how to work with them, the outcomes you’ll get from working with them, and what it is exactly that they do, including their experience, background, and ‘qualifications’ including direct links to satisfied clients. They can answer your questions effortlessly and fill you with enthusiasm when you’re talking to them, instead of filling you with fear about what might happen if you don’t work with them. When you talk to them, you won’t feel ‘sold to’, or railroaded into signing up for something you’re not really that sure about.


What it all boils down to?

If you’re hiring a ‘professional’, don’t just follow the ‘glitter’; do due diligence and put in the research. Hire a professional you can trust, who is open, happy to answer curly questions and is fiercely passionate about what they do. Talk to people who have worked with them before. Find out what their experience was, what outcomes they achieved while working with them and whether they thought it was value for money. The truth comes in various forms!


Maria Doyle
Adult Education and Training

If you are interested in learning more about Maria and her workshops on Essemy, please visit this link.