When I was working for a Not-for-Profit organization, we were allocated $25.00 each for professional development! As part of our annual review, we were challenged to identify something we wanted to learn that would benefit our role, and stay within budget. Being a researcher and lifelong learner at heart, I scoured the internet to see what courses I could take. That is when I found Lynda.com and was given the green light to sign up for one month to learn MS Publisher – for $25.00! The experience was so fabulous that I continue to recommend Lynda.com to anyone in career transition who wants to add skills that will concretely increase their value in this new market economy.
Maintaining confidence and momentum in the midst of a job search can often be a challenge. Merriam-Webster defines momentum as ‘the strength or force that allows something to continue or to grow stronger or faster as time passes.’ During a time of career transition, rather than allowing time to hang heavy which can often lead to discouragement, build on your skills with one of the following options. Not only will doing so provide you with a definitive way to demonstrate your initiative to prospective employers, it will also give you an edge by adding even more to what you offer a new role!
Behind the Scenes (on your own)
1. Lynda.com – is a premier online training site that provides in-depth training on software, design and business skills. The Business Training section alone includes 519 courses ranging from project management and presentations to leadership and online marketing strategy. New courses are added every week. Once a course is completed, Lynda.com now provides a quick to use link for you to add your latest professional development accomplishment to your LinkedIn Profile!
2. MOOCS – are Massive Open Online Courses. Many courses are free or highly discounted. The largest course (to date) had an enrollment of 300,000 students! Course offerings include sciences, arts and humanities, information technology, business and mathematics. Well known universities including the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, Stanford University, Harvard, the University of Texas System, Wellesley College and Georgetown University offer MOOC courses. You can search course offerings at: Udacity, Coursera and edX. As part of edX, Google will launch MOOC.org later in 2014, to provide even more access to courses.
3. LinkedIn Groups – As of April 2014, there are 2.1 million groups on LinkedIn. There are 277 million LinkedIn users! Participating in discussions posted in Groups will help build your contact network and your credibility. As more people see the value of our comments as part of discussion, and you choose to post questions that encourage additional dialogue within groups, others will be prompted to ask you to become part of their network. Another perk of participating in groups? – LinkedIn users share tons of informative and practical content. Within months of becoming more active on LinkedIn, I received a PowerPoint presentation on a topic I was highly interested in professionally from a new contact in the UK!
Up Front (in Connection)
Joining forces with like-minded people can be highly energizing. Doing so can bring you in contact with others who may be instrumental in linking you to career opportunities you have yet to be informed of.
4. Become a Board or Committee Member. Choose organizations whose purpose aligns with your values, interests, skills and talents. Participating at this level can often bring you into contact with high level decision makers, some of whom may become strong references for you, or even a future employer! Choose from industry associations, civic groups and non-profit organizations.
5. Join local Associations. There are associations for just about every industry and many of them seek members who will be active in organizing meetings, conferences and events. Active participation will bring you into contact with many more people you may never otherwise meet!
6. Take a course in public speaking or join Toast Masters. Some of the major pitfalls that job seekers fall into is responding to interview questions by being too vague or providing long, winding answers that lose listeners’ attention. Honing your spoken communication skills will give you the edge in providing clear, concise and attention getting answers that will leave prospective employers knowing exactly how you can benefit their goals.
7. Volunteer – in a capacity related to your career goals. Identify organizations whose mission statements you are passionate about and use your skills to help move them forward. Choosing carefully will help you tap into serving from ‘your purpose’. Be generous in offering your skills, talent and energy, yet judicious about ensuring you are still reserving time each week to still effectively manage your job search time.
8. Join local Meetup groups. This may be more for fun than career building, however one never knows who might become an integral connection. Especially during career transitions, one needs to tap into what energizes them. Meetup groups exist in just about every community imaginable. Topics run the gamut of every interest you can dream of from investing, e-business and writing, to travel, dance and music. Joining something that either inspires you or gets you physically active will bring you added energy to keep your job search momentum high.