06 June 2016
In our hectic daily lives, it can often be quite difficult to plan for the future—something that can certainly affect our careers. While we’re so focused on performing well in our current positions , it becomes easy for us to forget to learn new skills. This includes letting our skill set run stale while the world changes around us. However, to ensure you don’t become complacent in your current role, it’s crucial to continue advancing skills that will help you land the next role. While continued learning is important, it can be difficult to find the resources to actually improve upon these skills. However, there are an abundance of free online tools that have been created to provide an effective learning environment. Here are three in-demand skills that you can improve from your computer for free: Written Communication Although many of us spend a lot of time sending rapid fire messages, written communication skills are still critical. In fact, a recent CareerBuilder study found that communication ranks fifth in skills lacking among recent graduates. As this is a pillar of the workplace, it’s imperative that you can communicate effectively through your writing. Additionally, improving your writing skills can also enhance your verbal communication skills. To improve: Grammarly: This Google Chrome plugin will analyze and edit any web page draft, from emails to social media posts. If you want an easy way to keep learning, Grammarly will simply run in the background of your browser, and you’ll be able to see how you can improve your everyday communication with friends and colleagues. Hemingway: For longer writing samples or more advanced writers, Hemingway will analyze any sample of writing and highlight sections that someone might have difficulty understanding. This includes everything from a run-on sentence to a long word that could be replaced with a shorter option. Foreign Language In a progressively global economy, whether you’re bilingual or are only proficient in one language, the ability to speak additional languages is a skill that is always in-demand in many fields, particularly in healthcare. Additionally, it’s a proficiency that requires practice and consistency to stay fluent, and it can be difficult to maintain fluency if you’re not communicating regularly. To improve: Duolingo: This program turns learning a new language into a game. Through different translation techniques, you can receive a well-rounded, interactive learning experience. From Spanish to Vietnamese, any course is free—forever. Additionally, Duolingo will send you daily reminders to get your practice in for the day, and you can even learn on your Android or iOS device. As a bonus for those who are fluent, you can add a badge from Duolingo to your LinkedIn profile to show off your skills! Computer Skills Regardless of your skill level, it’s important to always be improving your understanding of technology. As our society becomes increasingly digitalized, more common job tasks are done on the computer and other digital platforms. For simple computer skills like Excel or Outlook, remember that there are always video tutorials available on YouTube. For those that are looking to add more dexterity to their resume, expand on your coding skills. The ability to code has become as important as other basic forms of literacy like reading and math, according to Inc. While it may not seem immediately relevant to your position, you never know when experience like this could be the difference between you and another candidate, or even show you a new career path you hadn’t considered. Additionally, coding is an excellent opportunity to practice other in-demand soft skills like problem-solving and critical thinking. To improve: Hour of Code: For your first foray into coding, try Hour of Code, an initiative with the goal of getting as many people as possible to learn the basics of coding (241 million and counting). These fun one-hour courses are created for all experience levels, and you can expand your knowledge of computer science by understanding the basic building blocks of coding. Codecademy: For those ready to learn HTML or SQL, start with Codecademy. With this interactive program, you can learn the basics of coding languages like HTML and CSS in just one day through practical applications. For example, the HTML & CSS course takes you through the building blocks of creating the Airbnb home page from scratch. Plus, they have free introductory courses for every programming language, from SQL to Java.