Staying Competitive: How to Upgrade Your Employability Online
The internet is good for a lot of things. You can use it to keep up with friends, to shop, find recipes, and of course to look for jobs. But beyond scanning the online job boards for your next step, what can you do to increase the likelihood that you’ll get your dream job or be able to launch yourself towards the perfect career?
Good news. You can do that on the internet, too.
There are myriad professional training and certification courses available online, many for free. Professional certification can be one of the most effective ways to improve your employability and ensure career growth in the long-term.
Keep reading for more details on what types of courses are available and how to choose the right path for your specific goals.
What Does Employability Mean?
No matter how happy you are in your current position, you know that unforeseen circumstances could have you wading back into the job market at the drop of a hat. Or you may have been waiting for your next promotion that never seems to come.
If you don’t love your career, you could already looking for ways to sever ties and move on to something more suited to you.
In today’s competitive economy, it’s not always enough to have a full resume of previous jobs. Without concrete proof of the skills you have, it can be difficult to even get an interview, much less land a job. That’s why if you’re serious about your career, you need to think about your resume holistically and be sure that you are paying attention to your overall employability.
If you are employable, you not only have a good track record of employment at a range of positions, you can also demonstrate that you care about your career through professional certification and skill-based courses that you have completed. Luckily, there are many such courses that you can take online from the comfort of your own home. By committing to furthering your practical education, you can make yourself more employable and feel confident that even you lose the job you have, you will be able to find another quickly.
Fastest Growing Career Paths
If you’re not quite sure which direction to take in your career, it can be helpful to know which industries are expected to have the most job growth in the coming years. If you can focus your employability efforts on these types of jobs, you will be more likely to find openings that you are suited for faster than you might in other industries.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are a few fast growing occupations for which further education and skills could be developed online. Some of those, along with their expected growth rate between 2014 and 2024, include:
- Occupational therapy assistants (43%)
- Nurse practitioners (35%)
- Statisticians (34%)
- Operations research analysts (30%)
- Personal financial advisors (30%)
- Interpreters and translators (29%)
The BLS also tracks occupations by actual job growth (as opposed to percentages). Some of the relevant occupations that are expected to add a large number of jobs through 2024 include:
- Registered nurses
- Accountants and auditors
- Software developers
- Computer systems analysts
- Medical secretaries
- Management analysts
While it is certainly important to choose a career in which you can excel, looking to job growth numbers can be helpful when deciding between disparate paths.
Online Education to Increase Employability
As alluded to earlier, online education can be an extremely effective way to increase your employability, whether you have a great deal of experience in your field or are looking to start down a new track. The type of education you will want to pursue will vary depending on the career and skills you are trying to develop.
Learn Something Brand New
One option to dramatically increase employability is to learn a completely new skill. For instance, if you want to delve into the world of software development, a job that is expected to add more than 135,000 new positions by 2024, there are plenty of courses available. For example, you can sign up to take a completely free course in Android application development. The 60-hour course, entitled Developing Android Apps is a collaboration between Udacity and Google and covers both the theory and practice of application development.
If your ultimate goal is to work online, you may want to learn some critical technical skills, such as photo editing or graphic design. Indeed, skills in specific software programs like Adobe Photoshop are highly marketable and applicable in many different fast-growing jobs in graphic design, web design and production, digital marketing, publishing, public relations, and communications. Photoshop and design courses are plentiful online. For example, one Photoshop Bootcamp course from Udemy costs just $10 and offers lifetime access to 10 hours worth of on-demand videos as well as supplemental resources. Other courses like an Advanced Excel course (also from Udemy) may help those who want to get more technical knowledge but don’t necessarily need a design element.
Beyond technical skills like coding and Photoshop there are also an array of language courses available online. Not only can learning a new language boost your employability for international companies, but jobs for translators and interpreters are supposed to grow by 29% through 2024. While becoming fluent in a new language is going to take a long time, it is easy to pick up some vocabulary and a marketable level of skill with free apps like Duolingo or paid sites like Babbel. With a few months of diligent practice, you could have a working knowledge of languages as diverse as Spanish, Mandarin, or Dutch.
You can even use online learning opportunities to explore new careers that may require further educations. For example, healthcare and nursing in particular are both fast growing jobs but you can’t quickly pick up all the skills necessary to become a nurse practitioner or even an RN in a few hours online. However, you can take an introductory course such as Clinical Nursing Skills from a site like ALISON. This free course takes just 15 hours to complete and can give you a good baseline understanding as to what’s required to join the nursing profession.
Improve Your Existing Skills
Of course, there are plenty of business skills that you probably already have, too. If you’d like to hone those skills for more job opportunities, there are options for you online.
Business communications is an essential skill for growing past a certain point in many careers, but the formal training available in college or high school is virtually non-existent. Luckily, there are online courses that can help you improve your business writing, network, and public speaking skills. For example:
- High-Impact Business Writing from Coursera
- Business Writing Principles from Lynda.com
- Introduction to Public Speaking from Coursera
- Public Speaking for Business & Education from Udemy
- Networking Skills from the Institute of Fundraising
Or maybe you are happy at your current company but want to go for a new position that would take you to the next level. Demonstrating leadership skills is essential for achieving promotions in the corporate world and the Institute of Personal Leadership knows this. In partnership with the Columbia Business School Executive Education, IPL offers courses like Personal Leadership & Success and Building Your Leadership Foundation. While these self-paced courses with an impressive pedigree do not come for cheap, they could help you to uncover the boss within.
Professional certification is an excellent way to stand out from the crowd when you are job hunting. A number of highly regarded universities offer the opportunity to get certified in a wide range of subjects that could leave you highly employable.
One of the most highly regarded online certification programs is called EdX and began as a collaboration between Harvard and MIT. The EdX site compiles courses from a huge range of universities. The platform is nonprofit and open source. Although certifications are not free (most cost $99) they come with a prestigious reputation attached. Many of the certifications only take a few weeks to complete, making them a fast and effective way to boost your resume.
Some of the certifications that you can pursue for maximum employability include:
- Microsoft Professional Program Certificate in Data Science (Microsoft)
- Retail and Omnichannel Management (Dartmouth)
- Mergers & Acquisitions (New York Institute of Finance)
- Digital Marketing (Wharton)
It’s impossible to deny the appeal of putting “Harvard” on your next job application. The top notch Ivy League school has made it easier than ever to earn that mark with their online extension courses. As you might expect, these certifications come with a hefty price tag, but the employability that they add to your experience may be invaluable. Some possibilities for job prospects include:
- Corporate Sustainability and Innovation Certificate
- Business Communications Certificate
- Web Technologies Certificate
With courses developed by Cornell faculty, eCornell is another highly regarded professional certification option. In general, these certifications can take a bit longer than some of the other courses mentioned, but for the right person the additional time investment may be worth it. The eCornell platform offers certifications such as:
- Business Excellence for Health Professionals
- Human Resources Management
- Master Certificate in Revenue Management
Online education is no longer a new frontier. Rather, the reach of the internet has made it possible for people all over the world to find flexible, affordable opportunities to broaden their horizons. By improving your skills and knowledge, you can make yourself more attractive to employers and even start down a completely new career path. All you need is a connection to the internet and the drive to finish what you start. Work towards making yourself more employable and you’ll already be ahead of the game.