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10 Online Courses That Professionals Everywhere Can Use

10 Online Courses That Professionals Everywhere Can Use

The Great Recession may be behind us, but years of economic instability have left their mark on the workplace. Now, more Americans are freelancers or working on contract. Meanwhile, managers have yet to hire new employees at the pre-recession rates, leaving current employees with multiple responsibilities and job titles. What does that mean for us worker bees? We have to constantly improve our skillset, develop professionally and stay on top of our game to remain valued and employable. Yet many of us do not have the time or the money to participate in a traditional college or continuing education course.

Online courses are becoming more popular, and what was once seen as a questionable credential is now recognized as quality education. According to this infographic from Vista College, an estimated 25 million students will take at least one online class this year, and 77 percent of academics rate online courses equal or superior to the bricks and mortar classroom. No matter your profession, it’s critical to stay current with best practices, skills and technology. Here are 10 online courses that professionals everywhere should consider:

Intro to Social Media, Constant Contact

social media online course

    Is Facebook a mystery to you? Do you hear colleagues talking about the company’s digital footprint but have no idea what it means? If you were hoping Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and other social media sites were just fads that would quickly disappear, you are mistaken. And everyone from family owned businesses to multinational corporations are working to improve their online presence and reputation through these sites. Social 101, an online course put together by email marketer Constant Contact, explains popular sites, blogging, QR codes, email marketing and more.

    Project Management Course, Vista College Pro

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    project management courses

      Vista College’s online classes are perfect for busy professionals. This course can help enhance the skills needed to be successful in project management, including initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and closing. This course can also prepare you for the project management professional certification through the Project Management Institute. If your boss has been reluctant to put you in charge of a project, take this course to sharpen your skills.

      Google Analytics Academy, Google

      SEO and analytics

        Website analytics have advanced well beyond merely counting the number of visits. By taking this course, you’ll learn how the data collected by Google about those visiting your website will help you direct advertising dollars, grow your e-commerce, and create in-depth analysis. Just by adding the analytics code to your website, a whole new world of big data will be open to you.

        Time Management Class, Franklin Covey

        Time To Learn

          Franklin Covey is famous for its courses in productivity and business skills. Their Time Management Essentials online course can help busy professionals learn to prioritize responsibilities, think through problems more efficiently and make good decisions. These courses also teach students how to use technology to make life more productive, instead of adding distractions to an already busy schedule.

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          Writing Course, Utah State University

          writing course

            Clear and well thought out writing is hard to find. Even in an age when it seems everyone is a blogger, or at least a microblogger, quality writing is rare. Yet it’s necessary to get ahead in the workplace: presentations, emails, proposals and even employee reviews all depend upon a solid writing foundation. Take this course to help understand and develop writing skills.

            Photography Training and Tutorials, Lynda.com

            photography online course

              Photography is a wonderful personal skill that can take a family photo album from dull to inspiring. But a few photography skills can also help set you apart at work. Facebook posts with photos enjoy a higher level of engagement than those without. The annual financial report is read by more people when a compelling photo is on the cover. The company website is always putting out calls for event photos. By taking photography classes, you can set yourself apart at home and at work.

              Public Speaking, University of Washington via Coursera

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              Communicate Definition Magnifier Showing Dialog Networking Or Speaking

                Do you get knots in your stomach when presenting to the Board of Directors? Does the idea of representing your company at a trade show terrify you? Then it is time to take a public speaking class to get over your fears and advance in the workplace. This course is a partnership between the University of Washington and Coursera, and will help you become more succinct, persuasive and confident in your speech.

                Finance and Capital Markets, Khan Academy

                Finance

                  Even the most artistic among us has to face the reality of a budget and bank balance. So while this coursework may not apply to your job right now, as you move up the corporate ladder you will also be responsible for an office budget one day. Learning about interest, debt, accounting basics and financial statements will set you apart from colleagues who’ve never heard of the word “amortization.”

                  Business Etiquette, The Emily Post Institute

                  business course

                    One poorly handled work lunch or a flubbed interaction with the CEO can set any employee back. On the other hand, when a boss sees you handle a potentially awkward or stressful situation with grace and ease, you’ll be commended. The Emily Post Institute offers classes in business and workplace etiquette, communications for business professionals and dining tips for business dinners or events. Sure, you may know your company inside and out, but do you know how to make the best impression?

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                    Sewing Class, Craftsy.com

                    hobby classes

                      OK, maybe it won’t be sewing for you, but don’t be afraid to think outside the box when looking for an online class. If you talk on the phone all day, it is relaxing to take a sewing class in the evening and work your creative skills. Maybe for you it would be an online course about car repair, an online cooking class, instruction in a foreign language or a DIY home repair course. These outside interests will give you something to talk about at work, and show the boss that you are a well-rounded employee. C’est bon!

                      It may seem like you have no free time during which to take on an additional class, but putting time into your professional or personal development will reap benefits for years to come. If you won’t invest in yourself, who will? Sign up for a professional development course today. What course have you taken to aid in professional development? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.

                      Featured photo credit: Aleksi Tappura via unsplash.imgix.net

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                      Published on September 16, 2020

                      12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

                      12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

                      Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

                      Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

                      Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

                      Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

                      Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

                      Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

                      1. Organization

                      When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

                      When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

                      Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

                      To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

                      To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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                      2. Flexibility

                      You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

                      Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

                      For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

                      To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

                      To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

                      3. Collaboration

                      As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

                      Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

                      To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

                      To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

                      4. Poise

                      Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

                      When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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                      What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

                      To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

                      To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

                      5. Communication

                      Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

                      When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

                      To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

                      To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

                      6. Good Computer Hygiene

                      Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

                      Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

                      To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

                      To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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                      7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

                      Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

                      Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

                      To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

                      To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

                      8. Respecting Feedback

                      In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

                      Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

                      To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

                      To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

                      9. Project Management

                      Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

                      To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

                      To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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                      10. Staying up to Speed

                      Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

                      To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

                      To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

                      11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

                      “Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

                      To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

                      To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

                      12. Teamwork

                      Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

                      Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

                      To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

                      To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

                      Final Thoughts

                      Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

                      More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

                      Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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