Focus on Career Trends: Bridging the Skills Gap Without Breaking the Bank
Focus on Career Trends: Bridging the Skills Gap without Breaking the Bank
If you’re like many job seekers, you read through the list of requirements for an open position and compare it against your existing skill set. Sure, soft skills are an easy enough sell. You can certainly describe yourself as a highly driven team player with excellent communication skills without anyone sounding alarms, but what about something like advanced Excel? How are your VLookups, Pivot Tables? Can you say that you have advanced Excel skills if you don’t? Even if you’ve earned an MBA, chances are there are skills that employers are looking for that you didn’t cover in school.
What can you do?
This is where micro-credentialing gains its’ appeal. But Micro-credentialing, also now known “nano-degrees” or micro-degrees are a growing trend due to its’ self-paced nature and affordability (when compared to traditional degrees). Fill in your skills gap, increase the amount of precious keywords on your resume and LinkedIn profiles, and do it all without breaking the bank. Micro-degrees are a set of online courses and a hands-on capstone project designed in partnership with universities and high-tech firms, according to Brookings Institute’s Techtank. Individuals can select to take just one course, 100% free, or work towards a complete certificate and receive an “official” credential at the end of the course which does come with a small price tag. Infinitely cheaper than and more accessible and flexible than what might be available at your local college or university.
Whether taking just one course, or an entire certificate, or “micro-degree” this effort can expand or deepen a skill set, or possibly legitimize it, and help you gain more credibility in your field. As with one of our clients, Rob, who is now pursuing official certification in project and construction management. A former trader in the financial industry, he landed up by default helping a friend manage his growing commercial construction business. After six years of working in the business, learning on the job, he’s now looking to work in a bigger company but needs to demonstrate some formal education to be seen as credible. An online course, or micro-degree could be a great first step.
At Careerfolk, we currently have clients who are taking courses in human resources, accounting, various software and fashion. These are clients who are looking to either advance their careers or make a change to a new industry. They realize that transferrable skills can only take them so far without some genuine industry specific knowledge. There are a number of resources available to you and the earlier you start, the better.
This is not only relevant for active job seekers but also highly valuable for people who have been with a company for a long time and let their skills atrophy. Why wait until times of uncertainty to expand your knowledge. Working professionals need to remain relevant. Recent college graduates need a broader skill set to be competitive.
So, fill in the gaps, stay current and don’t wait until there is a need. Check out these resources below:
Moocs, or Massive Open Online Courses, are the internet’s best kept secret! You can register with the site to receive emails whenever a course is offered that relates to your area of interest. Coursera and Udacity are two of the most widely known MOOC providers These are free courses offered around the world, from some of the best universities. The courses cover just about every topic imaginable from genetics to cake decorating. Laurie Pickard figured out the art of these online course and created her own Masters program wihile working for the Peace Corps in Rwanda. She’s also taken her experience a step further and created her own online business. She obviously learned a thing or two from that MBA.
- Online training marketplace
Two popular websites to access training for almost any course are Udemy and Lynda.com. Lynda.com is a great resource for learning software, business skills or even song-writing tips. There is a monthly fee, but they have free trials and if you sign up for LinkedIn Premium, you will gain access to Lynda for a period of time. This is a fantastic way to fill your cart with hard skills from the comfort of, well, anywhere you have access to wifi. (Signing up with LinkedIn Premimum is a double win, especially if you are in job search mode. If you haven’t used it before, you can get LinkedIn Premuium for 1 month free, and it’s a worthy investment of $30 to expand your networking and job search prospects).
Udemy is another online marketplace where anyone can share a class. Not only can you find a broad range of classes for a nominal fee, but if you have a skill set you like to teach, you can market your classes on there.
- Your Public Library
Many public libraries offer free programs on various skills or software with the added benefit of in-person networking to boot. The library in my town is currently offering courses on 3D modeling software, Advanced Writing and Excel. The cost: free.
- Industry Associations
If you are a member of industry associations (and you should be), check out their resources for continuing education, which often has reduced rates for members. For example, SHRM.com has courses listed on their website for as low as $40.
There are more resources out there but these sites are a great place to start. If you’ve used a different mode of cost-effective micro-credentialing, we’d love to hear about it. Adding to your list of credentials is only beneficial so go ahead and get started!