Written by RMI’s Associate Trainer, Sarah ‘H’ Gordon.
I may not come from Greece, but I have always had a “thirst for knowledge” (to misquote Pulp’s Common People).

I was fortunate enough to really enjoy my school and university days, when every day was about learning something new. As a recruiter, my employer sponsored those who were interested through their professional recruitment qualifications, and I jumped at the chance. Having been seized by the study bug, I decided to do the CIPD’s Post Grad Diploma in HR Management and decided to fund it myself because I could see the value in fully understanding the world my clients inhabited, and was excited to learn something new.

Outside of work and formal study, I have always sought out developmental opportunities – from singing lessons to drama workshops, from choirs to amateur dramatics groups, from learning the basics of the language when going on foreign holidays to learning how to say ‘happy birthday’ to colleagues in their mother tongue, from reading business books to watching YouTube videos on how to perform more challenging DIY.

As a trainer, it is my job to share this passion for learning, and to facilitate development. I have a duty to deliver engaging content that can make a tangible difference to the life/work of the delegates investing their time in the course, and to tailor the content to suit the needs of the individuals in the room.
Training Courses are not just about the trainer
Naturally, I am going to say that one great way of learning new techniques and ideas is to attend training courses!
However, despite being a trainer, I have to say that training courses are not just about the trainer sharing insights, tools and ideas.

The very act of taking time away from the day to day to actually stop and think about what you do, how you do it, and why, can be one of the most productive things you can do. You can learn a lot from yourself – if you give yourself the right learning environment.

In addition, if you are mixing with people from other organisations and backgrounds on an open training course, you can often learn a lot from other delegates on the course – if you are prepared to have an open mind and share your own experiences in return. (Delegates on my training courses often swap details as they see ways they can help each other.)

How can you get the best out of training?

In any training course for a job you are already doing, you should expect a certain degree of ‘refresher’ training. (If everything is new to you, either you are new in your role, or you haven’t been doing it terribly well so far!)

If you have been in recruitment for a number of years, have been well-supported by experienced colleagues, and even had a couple of training courses before – it is foolish to expect any training course to be 100% packed with brand new stuff. Sometimes the most value in training comes from reminding you of the stuff you know you should be doing, but are not doing consistently (or indeed, at all).

Some people attend training secretly hoping for some sort of ‘magic wand’ solution that will get them guaranteed improvement in results with less application of effort; some ground-breaking piece of insight that solves all their problems. They think that somehow just showing up at the training will change their world.

Let’s be absolutely clear – anything a trainer shares with you will only have an impact if you make it happen.

Some people attend training without giving any thought beforehand to what they would like the training to achieve for them. Even if the course has been booked for you by someone else, spend some time looking at the agenda and identifying areas of particular interest that could help you the most. Sharing real life work issues can help the trainer tailor the training to your specific needs, which can help to achieve real Return on Investment for the price of training. (If you pick up one tip that helps you find one candidate, or get one tricky deal ‘over the line’ – in reality that will have paid for the training course several times over.)

During the training course – take notes! It is quite common to cover a lot of ground in a half day or one day training course. When something is discussed that gets you thinking – make a note of it. When someone talks about a technique that works for them that you want to try, put it on your action plan.

When you get back to the office – tell someone (a manager or a colleague) about what you covered on the course, and tell them what you plan to do or change as a result. Tell them you will let them know how you get on. (It’s a bit like telling friends and family you are giving up smoking, or going on a diet – you hold yourself more accountable, and you feel like you will lose face if you don’t do what you said you would do.)

If you are going on training courses and just put the notes in a drawer and don’t change anything about how you work – please, don’t waste your money.

Generally, when attending training I set myself an objective to take three things as a minimum from a training course – either something new to trial, a reminder to revisit something I used to do but have let slip, or an interesting fact I can use in conversations with my network. It might even be meeting a really useful contact to network with. Going in with this mindset ensures you get the most from your day.

Rather than thinking ‘that wouldn’t work for me/my market’ – if you frame the question as ‘what can I learn from that that would be useful for me/my market?’ it’s amazing what your mind can come up with.

What you get from training is a shared responsibility – the trainer has a duty to deliver useful content in an engaging way, but you have a duty (to yourself, if nobody else) to think about how you can use that information in some way to your advantage.