It is important to take control of your own career development progress. You alone are responsible for obtaining the needed knowledge and skills to advance your career. Granted some people are lucky to have employers that are willing to invest in their talent, but others are not. Regardless of how lucky you are you can still take advantage of opportunities that are either free or low in cost to learn a new skill that would be beneficial to your career advancement.
Online platforms such as MOOCs, YouTube, or TedTalk are great ways to develop your knowledge and skills for free. For those not familiar with MOOCs, they are mass open online courses that are taken online. Organizations such as Coursea, Udemy, Khan Academy, and edX. Courses are provided for all different types of skills. Some even offer certificates for a small fee, which is great for showcasing the skills that you have learned to an employer. Moocs are a great way to learn a new skill without the burdening cost of an overpriced school. It also provides a great way to learn in the comfort of your own personal space. Like with committing to any program you must do your research to determine the best program for your needs. Here is an amazing list of great websites! Don’t forget when in doubt you can always Google to find opportunites that may be more favorable to your needs. Not really interested in committing to an actual program, well then you could consider either searching YouTube or TED Talks. These online platforms are a great way to learn something new for free and directly from experts. Unable to find the information you feel is valuable, you could also consider your local libraries online platform. Yes, the days of going the library are even becoming obsolete in many communities. Thanks to technology you can check out a book online, sign up for courses that may be offered (for those needing to improve computer skills or take certain exams such as GED or type of state board certification)! Be sure to check with your library to see what opportunities are available. If your community does not offer many services, maybe this is your chance to champion the idea within your community (another way to advance your skills and grow your network)!
Volunteering is another great way to meet new people in your community that share the same ideas as you. It is great way to build your experience if you are considering transitioning to a new career or just looking to develop your talents. Volunteering showcases your commitment to learning and advancing your career. A recent study conducted by the Corporation for National and Community Service analyzed the unemployment of over 70,000 individuals from the year 2002 to 2012, and found that individuals who volunteered had a 27% better chance of finding a job when compared to individuals that did not volunteer. Another study conducted by the Center for Economic and Policy Research also found that unemployed individuals that volunteered between 20 and 99 hours during the year were roughly 7% more likely to have found employment within one year when compared to people that did not volunteer. Volunteering is an excellent way to give back to others and yourself.
Connecting with someone you know who has a skill you would like to learn is another excellent way to progess your skills while networking. Taking advantage of your connections is a great way to generate professional champions for your career. Working alongside people that actually know you is a great way to showcase your capabilities to others. Taking this approach is beneficial because it allows for you to show others your professional worth and can open doors for your career. Connecting with others to build your skills allows people to know that you are interested in advancing your career and helps to build sponsors for job opportunities. Max Nisen explained the importance of networking and referrals and how it can give your career a 40% greater chance of landing a job.
Professional /Social Networks is another way to build your skills, showcase your skills, and network with like-minded individuals. Many networks offer professional development opportunities, seminars, and webinars to advance your skills. There are numerous of professional/social media outlets that cater to specific jobs industries. For example if you’re a culinary professional, you could consider a social media outlet like Culinary Agents or the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Joining different meetups is another great way as well.
There are plenty of opportunities to be found within your career industry. The key is to take time to research and determine which opportunities are the best for you. When in doubt, you can always Google.
Jorgensen, H. (2013). Does it pay to volunteer? The relationship between volunteer work and paid work. Center for Economic and Policy Research: Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://cepr.net/documents/publications/volunteer-2013-06.pdf
Neilsen, M. (December, 2013). Why job referrals matter. Quartz. Retrieved from https://qz.com/299923/why-job-referrals-matter/
Spera, C.; Ghertner, R., Nerino, A., DiTommaso, A. (2013). Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment: Does Volunteering Increase Odds of Finding a Job for the Out of Work? Corporation for National and Community Service, Office of Research and evaluation: Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://www.nationalservice.gov/sites/default/files/upload/employment_research_report.pdf