Ask HR: Should You Do Training If You Don’t Want a New Role?

By Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP May 20, 2022

SHRM President and Chief Executive Officer Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, is answering HR questions as part of a series for USA Today.

Do you have an HR or work-related question you'd like him to answer? Submit it here. 

My company invited me to enroll in a leadership training program for individuals on a track to a specific leadership role. I don't have much interest in this specific position, but much of the training and development appeals to me. Should I participate in the program even though I am not seriously considering the targeted position?—Marius

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.: First, congratulations on being selected for your employer's leadership training program! Even if you are not seriously considering a leadership position with your employer, it says a lot about your value to your company. If the content appeals to you, and the benefits outweigh any known risks, you should consider taking advantage of the program. Be upfront with your employer about your current lack of interest in a specific leadership role, while also sharing your overall interest in the program.  

Start by making a list of pros and cons about attending the leadership training program. Consider if you would have to repay your employer should you leave the company. Some employers require participants to sign a repayment agreement should they leave the employer within a specific time frame. Examine the curriculum to find out how the program can contribute to your career path. Can it add to or validate your current skill set?

Leadership is not necessarily about being in a managerial position. There are many soft skills associated with leadership that have benefits in many facets of life and in your current and future work.

If you find the rewards outweigh the risk, the program may be worth considering. You may end up enjoying leadership even more than you expect. Missing out on an investment your employer is willing to make in your development might be something you'll later regret. Good luck with whatever choice you make! 

I am currently in a bachelor's program but struggle to pay tuition. Jobs in my field generally require a four-year degree, and many offer some form of tuition assistance. Should I apply for jobs in my field that typically require a degree?—Lena

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.: There is no harm in applying for a job in your field that typically requires a four-year degree. In today's talent market, there may be fewer candidates for positions, leaving many employers willing to value your experience over a degree. They may even hire you with an agreement to obtain your degree within a certain time frame.

In fact, 9 in 10 employers report being ready to accept candidates without a four-year college degree to fill positions in an increasingly tight labor market. Additionally, being enrolled in a degree program within their chosen field would make you an even more attractive candidate to employers.

Keep in mind, without a college degree, you'll have to rely more on your experience through the application process. Use your cover letter and resume to showcase how you have achieved other professional and life goals. Detail any work experience, certifications or completed coursework relevant to the job. Highlight your enrollment in college along with any relevant coursework or projects.

If you haven't already, consider pursuing alternative credential programs. They are an affordable method of developing or validating the skills or experience necessary to advance your qualifications. The vast majority of executives, supervisors and especially HR professionals believe that people who hold alternative credentials add value to the workplace.

Many employers distinguish between required and preferred qualifications. If a college degree is a preferred qualification, you may have a better chance of success. Rather than holding out for those 100 percent job matches, if your qualifications match 80-90 percent of what's listed in the posting, consider applying. Remember, a job description is simply a wish list from an employer, and it may not wind up hiring someone with all (or even most) of the qualifications. 

Best of luck in your career endeavors!



Hire the best HR talent or advance your own career.


HR Daily Newsletter

News, trends and analysis, as well as breaking news alerts, to help HR professionals do their jobs better each business day.