Let's say you're hoping to advance in your career, but you feel limited by your education level. You confide this to a colleague, and their automatic response is probably "Go back to school!"
"Back to School" Isn't the Only Answer
For some people, going to college to obtain a degree isn't feasible. You may be caring for children, elderly parents, or other family members. The financial commitment may be more than you can handle. You may already be working two jobs plus a side hustle or two, and the thought of dedicating a couple of years to obtaining another degree may be overwhelming.
There are other ways to add credentials to your résumé that won't break the bank! Here are a few ideas.
1. See if Lynda.com is available through your library
The Philadelphia Free Library is the latest of many large library systems to offer access to the online learning platform Lynda.com for any library card holders. If the library closest to you doesn't offer access, check the libraries in nearby towns. Once you have a library card number, you can view the courses from anywhere you like, even your phone. Check it out!
2. Complete an Open Online Course (MOOC)
The recent popularity of open online courses may have been overhyped a bit, but these well-designed classes offer a real opportunity for acquiring skills. The three most utilized platforms, Coursera, Udacity & edX, each have different offerings. Some of the courses are on demand while others are "live" and only held periodically. For jobseekers, the critical step is to complete the course and obtain the associated credential.
3. Ask about certifications from trade associations
Trade or industry associations are often excellent sources of low-cost certifications. There may be special programs for under-represented minorities or older workers at a reduced cost. If you are currently employed and the certification is somewhat related to your work, it's possible your employer will cover the cost of this training. If that's not feasible, ask the industry association administration if they have suggestions for scholarship sources.
Once you have completed a course or program, be sure to add it to your résumé and LinkedIn profile! You might also post an update to LinkedIn to let your network know you completed the training, in case others are thinking about honing their skills but haven't discovered these resources.
Continually adding skills to your résumé tells employers you have initiative, desire to learn, and enthusiasm for your area of expertise. Tapping these free or low-cost resources can further your career more quickly and at less expense than a college course. Check them out!
If you know of someone considering a career transition who would benefit from speaking with a career coach, feel free to refer them to me! You can sign up for my email list as well, and I'd love it if you followed me on Twitter. Thanks so much!