Career change, Career coach, CV tips

Free Online Courses: One of the most powerful things you can do today to boost your CV, job prospects and kick start your career change

Author: Zoe Hendricks (MA CEd & C, RCDP MCDI)

Just so you know, this is not an advert and I’m (unfortunately) not on any commission! I just want to share something with you that I’ve noticed is making a big impact for my clients, so here it is.. 

OK, I know you’re stuck in lockdown, maybe furloughed, out of work, or just plain fed up in  your job. Maybe you daydream about doing something completely different, imagining a career you think you could have done.. should have done.. if only you could turn back the clock.. Afterall, it would cost you too much to start learning new skills now, right?…. Wrong.

It costs nothing and you can start right away

I’m still surprised by the number of people I see who are in the dark about one of the most potent ways to supercharge your CV or gear up for a long awaited career change – and it costs absolutely nothing and you can start right away. 

I’m talking about the explosion of brilliant free courses available now online, often offered up by credible global organisations and universities. Upskilling, learning and education has never been easier, and done from the comfort of your sofa.

As a career coach, I often encourage clients to explore free online courses that might help them and I have noticed those who do take advantage often significantly improve their prospects through a boost to their knowledge, skills and confidence.

So exactly what can you study for free?

In terms of what you can learn, it’s pretty mind blowing. You can choose from a wide range of subjects, many of which are highly relevant to today’s job market, or could simply meet your needs for personal development, creativity or knowledge. 

I’ve been taking a look at some of the free courses being offered and there really are far too many to mention. However, to give you a flavour of what you can study for free, subjects include social care, psychology, health and education, or HR, marketing and business. Or maybe choose to skill up on languages, nature, history or the arts. Fancy studying science, maths, technology or perhaps society, politics and law. 

Maybe you’re interested in learning something specific such as Counselling Skills, Holistic Therapy, Engineering, Cyber Security or Artificial Intelligence, or want to boost your Leadership or People Management skills, or perhaps help young people in education, or better support those with mental health challenges. There’s Food and Nutrition, Financial Markets, Project Management courses.. and the list really does go on..

Are free courses good for career development?

There are some careers that demand specific, accredited qualifications, that’s a given. However, many of these free courses are designed to help you upskill, build your awareness or knowledge, or teach you new competencies that are in line with current demands in industry. Any course you decide to undertake not only builds your knowledge, but is a great addition to your CV or LinkedIn profile. It can demonstrate to a potential employer that you are interested and committed to developing your skills and knowledge in that area.

Let me ask you this, if you were responsible for interviewing someone for a job, and they’d just completed a course relevant to the job or the business, would you see this as a benefit? Of course you would!

It is also worth bearing in mind that some free courses offer a similar version to the paid for ‘accredited’ qualification, so you learn the same content. It is often the accreditation process that costs training providers, which you can end up paying for in the price of the course. 

Use free courses to explore career change

Another fantastic use for free courses is when you are exploring a career change, you can find out so much more about different careers or jobs you think may interest you. You might take a course and realise that particular career choice isn’t really for you.. Or perhaps you love what you are learning, which ignites that spark of inspiration and motivation you need to take the next steps.

Where do I find free online courses?

Feeling fired up to get started on learning something new? I’ve taken the hard work away for you and explored some of the current top course providers offering free courses right now, You can thank me later..

OpenLearn (Free learning from the Open University)

Reed (Jobs and online UK courses)

Future Learn (University and Industry expert courses)

Edx (Founded by Harvard University)

Alison (Free online courses from world leading experts 

Coursera (Courses from universities and businesses) 

UK Learns, Pearson (Leading educational organisation)

Oxford Home study (Home learning provider)

*A little tip: Some providers offer both free and paid for courses, but just search ‘free courses’ in the website search box to uncover all the free stuff.

Hope this has inspired you to have a go at a course, and don’t forget to add it to your CV, on your job applications, mention it in your next appraisal! It really is never too late to learn.  

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