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How to Find the Right Subject Matter Experts
for Online Onboarding Training

Subject Matter Experts help you identify the essential information that new hires need before their first day on the job. But how do you know which Subject Matter Expert will work best with your eLearning team, or convey the key takeaways in a way that’s easy for your staff to understand? Here are eight tips to find the best Subject Matter Expert for your new hire online training course

8 Tips to Find the Right Subject Matter Experts for Your Onboarding Training

1. Evaluate eLearning Portfolios to Identify Top Candidates

The first step in the selection process is creating a list of potential Subject Matter Experts you’d like to work with. Check out their eLearning portfolios or websites to gauge their experience level, skills, and work samples. There should also be a section for references or testimonials, which gives you a better idea of the Subject Matter Expert’s working relationships. You can also search online for ratings and reviews from past clients.

2. Schedule an Introductory Meeting

An ice-breaker meeting is essential if you are on the fence about a particular Subject Matter Expert and want to experience their personality firsthand. Keep in mind that your eLearning team is going to work with this individual closely to develop online training content. Thus, they need to be able to play nice with others and communicate with collaborators. You may even want to have a few team members sit in for the meeting to get their feedback. Ideally, those who will work directly with the Subject Matter Expert during the eLearning course design process.

3. Ask About Regional Compliance Expertise

A major component of onboarding training is compliance. For example, local rules, regulations, and protocols that new hires must know to avoid penalties and ensure workplace safety. Verify that the Subject Matter Expert is familiar with regional compliance codes and policies, as well as federal regulations that pertain to your industry. This simple precautionary measure can prevent significant fines later on. For more advanced compliance issues, you may want to request that the Subject Matter Expert completes an assessment. You don’t want to have to worry about failing an audit because they were unaware of more obscure legislation or the latest amendments.

4. See If They Mesh with Your eLearning Team

Invite the Subject Matter Expert to sit in with your eLearning team during an average work day. This allows you to determine if they mesh with your eLearning team and fit into the work flow, or if their approach conflicts with your methodologies. In addition, you have the opportunity to see if they really know their stuff and are able to put it into practice. For example, use their past experiences and compliance know-how to help the eLearning team during a brainstorming session. If personalities clash or they are unable to engage with the group, the Subject Matter Expert may not be a good fit for the corporate eLearning project.

5. Analyze Past eLearning Projects

You can tell a lot about the Subject Matter Expert’s work ethic and expertise by evaluating their past eLearning projects. More specifically, whether these eLearning projects align with your current training needs and support the expert’s job candidacy. For example, require skills that you need for your onboarding training course, or prove that they’re familiar with specific tools. Their eLearning portfolio should contain some samples, but feel free to ask for additional work to get a more complete picture. You can also create follow-up questions. For instance, a step-by-step walk through of how they achieved the organization’s goals. Or what they might improve about their communication or teamwork skills to make this project run more smoothly.

6. Request an Industry-Specific Work Sample

Another way to put their eLearning skills to the test is to request a paid work sample. Give them a general overview of the mini-project, such as the learning objectives, desired outcomes, intended audience, and topic. Then ask them to create online training content based on your specifications. Don’t forget to provide them with the necessary online resources and research materials. Evaluate the deliverable to determine if it’s up to par or misses the mark. This is also a good opportunity to determine if they’re willing to carry out revisions. Ask them to make minor adjustments to the online training content based on your notes and see how they react.

7. Test Their Company Policy Knowledge

Most onboarding online training courses involve some degree of company policy. Your new hires need to know about dress code, harassment protocols, and a variety of other issues that are relevant to business operations. That means that the Subject Matter Expert must have in-depth knowledge of these policies in order to convey them to your newest team members. Invite them to visit your website and view any materials that reflect your brand messaging, in addition to current online training resources that outline your basic company policy. Then give them a pop quiz to assess whether they fully comprehend the main points.

8. Ask for Recommendations From Your eLearning Network

Your eLearning network may have worked with Subject Matter Experts in the past and can recommend top talent. If you don’t know anyone personally, join social media groups and online discussions. Spread the word that you’re looking for a Subject Matter Expert for your onboarding training course, and mention the niche. That way people can give you targeted recommendations based on your criteria and subject matter. If you already have a short list of Subject Matter Experts, ask other eLearning pros if they are familiar with their work. If so, send them a private message to inquire about the overall experience.

These 8 tips will help you find the right Subject Matter Expert, but it’s also important to maintain the working relationship. Otherwise, you’ll have to repeat this process all over again when it’s time to develop your next online training course. Respect their time, invite their input, and give them a place at the meeting table. Above all else, ensure that they have all the tools and resources they require to uphold their end of the deal.

Subject Matter Experts can also be an asset in the boardroom. Read the article 7 Tips To Get The Subject Matter Expert Involved In Your Next Corporate Client Meeting to discover 7 tips to tap into the experience and talents of your Subject Matter Expert in your next corporate client meeting.

What tips would you add to this list? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.