Is it time to upskill?

In today's competitive job market, the smallest details can determine whether you're the last candidate standing or lost in the back of the pack. After all, you have just one shot to convince an HR manager that you're the strongest candidate for the role. So, how can you improve your chances at the best first impression?

One of the smartest ways to ensure you stand out from your peers is to improve your skill level. Upskilling can strengthen your positioning as a candidate by impressing a HR manager with your suite of relevant skills. However, you can't always rely on your current or previous workplaces to develop your skill set. Sometimes you need to go it alone.

If your skills are feeling a little outdated or if there are gaps between the skills you have and the skills you need, there are many great – and free – ways you can level up online to increase your chances of landing your next role. Read on to discover job skills you can learn online and find the right course for you.

1. Reed

Reed currently offers 58 free courses via their website that are fully online, self-paced and range from just a few hours to 15 weeks to complete. The courses cover a range of subjects including business administration, people management skills, creative writing, health, property and more. If you're feeling a little more adventurous, Reed also offers a range of paid courses starting at just £10.

2. Future Learn

Future Learn offers a number of short online courses provided by top universities and industry specialists. Most of the courses are free to study with options to upgrade to gain accreditation. Topics include programming, writing, nutrition, healthcare, investing and more.

3. Oxford Home Study

Oxford Home Study (OHSC) offers a range of free online courses with certificates awarded upon completion. Students can study a range of subjects including fashion design, customer service, internet marketing and wedding planning to name a few. OHSC also offers paid courses if a more in-depth study is required.

4. Alison

With over 1,400 free online courses to choose from, Alison offers a comprehensive learning experience with courses created by subject matter experts. If you're looking to improve a particular skill such as public speaking, managing a team or leadership ‒ or if you need to learn a new program such as QuickBooks – this may be the site for you.

5. Brentwood Open Learning College

From project management to public relations to how to start and run a business, Brentwood Open Learning College has a wide range of courses that are both free and online. Designed for you to study at home and at your own pace, most courses take approximately 20 hours to complete.

6. Open Learn

Open Learn offers a comprehensive range of free courses that cover subject areas within the broader topics of health, sports, education, languages, maths, science, politics ‒ the list goes on. The courses are all offered online and many take only a few hours to complete. Upon completion, students receive a statement of participation.

7. Class Central

Class Central is a search engine for online courses that brings together a range of short, free courses provided by leading universities across a range of disciplines. Whilst the website doesn't offer courses itself, it does have a great database that links directly to the course provider's website.  If you're not sure what you would like to study but would like to see what's available, Class Central might be a good choice for you.

8. EDX

EDX offers over 2,000 free online courses by leading institutions such as Harvard, MIT and Microsoft. Undertake courses in a range of fields such as business and management, humanities, computer science, and engineering. Courses range in length, with most including the option to receive a verified certificate for an additional cost.

9. Codecademy

If coding is a skill you need to learn, then Codecademy is the website for you. Offering free interactive lessons and daily practice, Codecademy can help you gain those basic coding skills needed for your next role. From web development to programming to data science, there are several different topics on offer to get you started.

10. Hubspot Academy

For all things marketing-related, you will want to check out Hubspot Academy. Covering topics such as SEO, social media marketing, content marketing and inbound sales, Hubspot offers a specialised catalogue designed to upskill your marketing chops and give you the tools needed to succeed.

Final thoughts

Learning a new skill does not need to be daunting. With so many short, free courses available and job skills you can learn online, it's easy to study in your own time and at your own pace to improve your candidacy.

Another free resource is TopCV's CV critique. Submit your CV to receive expert, personalised feedback on your job-search document.

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