Around Campus

Carolina Talent helps staff learn skills and gain confidence

The career development and performance platform offers many opportunities for “large and lasting impact” on day-to-day work.

The Carolina Talent logo
(Graphic courtesy of the Office of Human Resources)

In August of 2022, Summer School staff carried out an initiative to rewrite all their online procedure manuals to update language and formatting and meet modern accessibility standards. The considerable effort, led by Michael Smith, was made possible in large part because of available trainings offered through Carolina Talent.

Smith, administrative director in the Summer School, made digital accessibility one of his performance goals the year before and turned to course listings through Carolina Talent to learn more.

“Thinking about equity led me to want to learn more about accessibility, which in turn led me to the very useful and effective trainings offered through Carolina Talent by the Digital Accessibility Office,” Smith said. “The training had a large and lasting impact on my unit. While there’s always more to do, this training has helped us create online resources for campus partners that are easier to use for all.”

Carolina Talent launched in the summer of 2020 as a system to offer employees tools to grow and manage their careers and give managers and HR representatives tools to work alongside employees in their career trajectories. The platform hosts professional development and performance resources in a centralized and easy-to-use system available to all University employees with their Onyen and password.

“We continue to see high demand for training in areas that help employees develop in their current roles while also preparing them for expanded roles as they grow in their careers,” said Mark Haapala, senior director of organization and professional development in the Office of Human Resources.

Chloe Yopp, social media content producer for the School of Social Work, learned of Carolina Talent from her coworkers.

“During my first few weeks in my role, my colleagues Rich Stewart and Susan White mentioned that digital accessibility courses were available in Carolina Talent if I wanted to learn more, as they both found the courses very helpful,” Yopp said. “Now, whenever I go to make changes to the school’s site or post on our social media, I think of the things I learned in the course.”

An outcome for both Yopp and Smith was an increase in confidence with skills taught through professional development courses.

“I feel a bit more educated and less unsure of myself when it comes to making things accessible. Before, I knew this was something to be cognizant of but wasn’t always sure how to execute that properly,” Yopp said.

“I went from basically having a vague idea that standards existed to actually getting a solid feel for what those were and some practical steps on how to carry that out. I left that training really confident,” Smith said.

Employees can find ways to build confidence in their career journeys through the two modules of the platform: Learning and Performance.

“When you think about the two primary modules within Carolina Talent, both are designed to help employees develop in their current role as well as future roles with UNC-Chapel Hill,” said Haapala. “Learning seeks to be a ‘one stop shop’ for professional development training. Performance provides the technology platform for managers to provide helpful feedback for employees and make targeted recommendations for development activities that could include things like specific skills training or participation on an upcoming project team or task force, for example.”


The Learning section of Carolina Talent hosts professional development sessions, on-demand learning opportunities and annual compliance trainings and tests. The module continues to grow as the University adds learning content and courses.

University-offered courses are self-paced or led by instructors either virtually or in person. Carolina employees also have access to LinkedIn Learning courses through the platform. The many different course offerings allow the chance to bolster skills with multiple teaching styles and follow-up trainings. For example, Smith was able to take an in-person course and then follow up with a LinkedIn Learning training on the same topic.

“One that I’ve recommended to multiple people is the Operational Excellence team’s Lean Foundations Training. My team is constantly evaluating how we communicate and process things to make things more efficient and easier for our partners. That training was helpful in crystallizing how important it is to keep doing that,” Smith said. “I took a self-paced LinkedIn Learning course as a follow up to the in-person OE one, which was also helpful.”

Supervisors can even use Carolina Talent to assign training to team members and review trainings that they’ve completed. Smith finds it helpful to search for trainings to recommend to employees. His recommendation as a supervisor is to determine what kind of professional development employees may benefit from in their day-to-day work.

“First, assess whether you’re looking for an employee to develop a specific technical skill or whether you want to develop something like a relationship competency or communication competency. I’m going to recommend to one of my employees to look at some basic Qualtrics information because I think that’s something that we’re going to use more and more as a unit,” Smith said.


Carolina Talent’s Performance section integrates and consolidates the performance appraisal process. The system keeps trainings linked to development plans and provides an opportunity for managers and employees to have meaningful performance conversations throughout the year. Employees and managers can collaborate on goal and development planning and directly link learning where needed.

“Having the performance process 100% online through Carolina Talent is amazing because of how easy it is for supervisors to be more interactive and set clear expectations with their employees,” said Ashley Hockaday, senior EHRA human resources consultant. “Supervisors can — at any point throughout the performance cycle year — add, update or redirect an employee’s goals depending on their specific work. This allows the performance documents to stay current and helps the employee clearly know what is expected of them.”

Employees also have the chance to make professional development courses part of their regular performance goals.

“As a part of my unit’s annual performance plans, one standing goal is for each person to take part in at least one professional development opportunity,” said Smith. “There’s such a range of professional development opportunities available in a variety of formats that all of us can find something interesting and useful at a time that works.”

For tips on platform usability or to learn more about offerings, visit theCarolina Talent website.