Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
CAREER ADVANCEMENT / JAN. 30, 2014
version 4, draft 4

How to Upskill for Free

Success Starts Here

If you are bored, unfulfilled or broke, chances are that you might need a new job. Work should be interesting and have a sense of progression. If you don't have this with your current employer, look for another one.

Without new skills however you might struggle to find a new opportunity. You don't want to settle for a sideways move into a similarly unsatisfying job - that's nobody's idea of fun. But, if you don't invest time in shining up those skills of yours and making yourself your next employer's dreamboat, you could get stuck for a while, a few years even, where you are. If you want to go "up" rather than just "out" or "along" then here are a few ideas for you to chew over. Not just any old set of ideas - free and relatively painless ones too.

Volunteer
You shouldn't have to work for free and nobody's saying you should. Volunteering however is a two way process. You give your time and effort but you almost nearly always get twice as much back in terms of goodness for your career and your confidence. Look at "Do It Org - Volunteering Made Easy" website www.doit.org

You can choose opportunities via your postcode and according to your interest. There's a wide range of opportunities - far from the charity shop sock-sorting variety. A quick search under my local area of Hastings brought up the following opportunities:

-Carnival Costume Maker for Jankanoo

-Volunteer Independent Advisers for East Sussex Care Leavers

-Shopmobillity Office Administrator Volunteer

Mentor
Try and get a mentor. Someone who can champion you along a bit, preferably with a career behind them in the area that you would like to join. If there's no one in your immediate family and friendship group, you could try LinkedIn networking. There's also a free coaching opportunity to be had when people are learning to be a coach. A quick Google gave me these free opportunities:

Free training
Moocs - Massive Online Open Courses - are the way forward in terms of learning, and best of all they are free. As long as you have got internet access, you can join in. Moocs are fast becoming a very respected way of learning. It looks good to an employer too to be 'finger on the pulse' with learning technology and the fact that you can do something for yourself without a course leader breathing down your neck says something in itself.

It looks good - you are upskilling, using your initiative and doing it off your own back. Plus, Moocs are new and cool and you get a certificate at the end of it too. Warning: you will need self-discipline but if you choose a subject that you are really interested in, you're more likely to finish it. Search the Mooc list here http://www.mooc-list.com/

Funding for training
If you want to retrain through a college and the course involves course fees, there are charities and trusts out there that can help towards costs of fees and equipment. You need to put time in to research and choose the right charity or trust and then write a letter, but if you can find someone to cover the fees of your training, it is well worth your time. If your request is accepted, the charity will more than likely pay the course provider directly, rather than send you a cheque, so make sure you have the course providers payment details handy when applying. Look at www.turn2us.org for a directory of all of the trusts and charities and input your details to see which ones might be able to help you. Many trusts are attached to certain areas. If you need help writing the letter, you can ask me for help.

Set up something
Entrepreneurship is a big buzzword and there's lots of advice and resources, funding even, for young people to set up their own business. It could be a part-time internet venture or it could grow and become your full time wage. Try the Princes Trust for your first stop. They have a comprehensive training scheme and plenty of resources.

Put your hand up at work
If your boss needs a hand with a project, offer yourself up if you can. In times of recession, businesses can become under resourced and over worked and this can give you the opportunity to work at things that you wouldn't normally get a chance to do. Whatever you get to take on, it's an extra experience to put down on your CV and you never know when the knowledge might come in handy.

Ideas
Even if you don't know what direction you want to go in, it's always good to keep up the skills that you know you are going to need for ANY job that you go into. That means making sure your IT skills are not just up to scratch, but pretty hot. Working on your communication skills too doesn't hurt, as you will always need to communicate at work. There are few jobs where IT and communication skills are not required.

Try free learning Moocs again - they are hot potatoes. There are also free training opportunities available locally for young people and those who are not working. Ask your local community centre or library for a list of free training opportunities.

Start a blog
It's free and can be a really good way of being found online. I have a blog at www.sallyburr.com. It keeps me reading, writing and editing and also shows that I know how to use a blog tool, in posh speak, a WCM (Web Content Management system). You can add this to your CV or application forms. Get started now. You can blog about anything and it's completely free at Wordpress http://wordpress.com/

Keep your chin up
Keep your CV updated all the time with your new skills as soon as you start acquiring them. Start a Mooc course? Add it pronto under a "Further Training" heading. You never know when the next opportunity is going to appear. If you are prepared, you can leap at it with the speed and precision of a a digital leopard.

Good luck

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