In a competitive job market and a time when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is reporting an unchanged unemployment rate at 4.1 percent, any edge you have over the next candidate could be the difference between getting an offer or, remaining in job search. Learning a new skill is also great for keeping the mind sharp and better prepared for the next challenge. Here are free ways to learn new skills:
- Attend free computer training classes: Whether online or in person, there are classes you can take to learn or enhance skills using common workplace software such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Outlook or Microsoft PowerPoint. Many basic classes will serve to review the fundamentals for someone who has used the programs.
There are also options for next-level intermediate classes to prepare you with the advantage needed over other potential candidates, as well as advanced classes to sharpen the skills of a seasoned user. One free online classes option to aide in your job search is Lynda. If new to the site, the first 30 days are provided as a free trial, so dedicate some time to learn!
- Visit your local library: While some libraries have in-person skills trainings there is one thing every branch will provide, and that is books. From the For Dummies collections that span the gamut to more specialized training manuals, there are options to cover everything from basic computing to programming to other more directed job functions.
Likewise, you can read up on additional ways to develop your interviewing and public speaking skills, thank you letter writing, and more. And if you don’t find the resources you’re looking for, head over to Goodwill Job Connection where you can practice your interview skills one-on-one and for free!
- Learn a new language: Another free way to learn new skills is to consider language studies. While Goodwill Job Connection offers job training assistance to English and ESL patrons alike, if you’re goal is to improve on what you know or expand to new levels, this might just be the time.
Similarly, there are a plethora of apps and websites that provide free foreign language training. These new skills may be helpful in your job search, as a commonality with a potential hiring manager, as a way to keep your mind fresh and sharp, and as a positive distraction.
A few apps for consideration include DuoLingo, busuu, 24/7 Tutor, and AccellaStudy. Likewise, your library may have training tools you can checkout ranging from Pimsleur to Living Language or other audio books or tape collections.
- Online technical classes: If you already know how to use a computer, but need a refresher on programming, an online technical course may make the difference in your job search.
ALISON, Khan Academy, and edX, among others, offer courses ranging from coding to people management to workplace health and safety and more. Additionally, HubSpot Academy offers free online courses in the digital marketing field, with an opportunity to earn a completion certificate in Inbound Marketing. When you have this prospect to add the accreditation to your resume and LinkedIn profile, go for it!
Other more technical classes such as those offered at Codeacademy provide free interactive training for digital languages including HTML, Java, and more. If these match skills required in your job search, be sure you’re prepared with an introductory or refresher course.
- Get physical: Your job search may not be one that will lead you to an office; it’s possible that you’ll be working with or overseeing a team of laborers. Most Home Depot and Lowe’s locations and some independent hardware stores offer free training sessions. These are not only a great way to try new things or refresh skills, but also can provide a brand new setting to test your networking skills!
Try your elevator pitch and see what feedback you receive. Whether you attend solo or bring a family member to one of the parent/child activities, it can be a fun opportunity to build skills and connect with others.
- Be artistic: Similar to getting your hands dirty or blistered at a hardware store, you can let your creativity soar with a new skill acquired at crafts stores such as Jo-Anns or Michaels, or by spending some time on Pinterest.
The project could be associated with your job search target or offer you a brand new challenge that my open your mind to fresh possibilities in your job search. If your artistic side is a bit more advanced, there are free online courses in photography, design, and crafts available at CreativeLive.com.
- Shadow a friend: This may not apply for every type of job, but if a friend or former associate has a job similar to the one you are looking for, perhaps spending a day with them will offer new insights.
From being around their specific office or field environment to gaining a new perspective regarding the actual day-to-day of the job, this free opportunity to learn new skills may prove to be a great introspective or talking point as you continue your job search.
- TedTalks are a great way to listen and learn: At one point or another you’ve likely watched a TedTalk. These web-based videos by industry experts often serve as a point of inspiration, but they can also be a free way to learn new skills.
A person favorite is the Power Pose by social psychologist Amy Cuddy. Learning this skill is one that can help you focus, reduce nervousness, and gain confidence as you prepare for an interview. Try it in private first, but then don’t be afraid to stop on the street a block away from your next interview. Be empowered in your pose and considerate of your body language during the meeting.
- Behold the power of YouTube: While not an official learning site, there are YouTube profiles that are dedicated to offering genuine skill building on hundreds of topics. These free opportunities to learn new skills from social media to math to makeup to language can potentially offer you just what you need to be competitive in your job search.