Learning is a lifestyle. Raw talent and work ethic can take you a long way in life, but you won’t reach your full potential if you don’t commit to learning – both informal and formal. And in the age of the internet, online learning has made acquiring knowledge and skills easier than ever before. Will you seize the opportunity to grow?
A Few Ways Online Learning Can Amplify Your Career
Online learning is for every person at every stage of their career. Whether you’re in school pursuing your undergraduate degree, in the middle of a career pivot, or at the tailend of your career looking forward to the next steps, online learning is the answer.
According to a FutureLearn survey of more than 600 individuals:
- 79 percent of recruiters are seeing a rise in the number of applicants who’ve taken online courses.
- 72 percent of recruiters use online courses to differentiate candidates at both junior and mid-management levels.
- 92 percent of people responsible for learning and development find online courses to be “valuable” or “very valuable.”
- 73 percent of recruiters believe online courses are valuable when considering the promotion of an existing employee.
- 65 percent of those responsible for learning and development believe a healthy mixture of online and classroom-based learning is the preferred way to keep up.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a college student, employee, freelancer, business owner, or retiree, there’s value in online learning. The sooner you tap into it, the better.
How to Use Online Learning to Grow
Online learning is popular, practical, and effective – so what now?
The next step is to put online learning to work for your career and development. Here are a few suggestions:
- Identify Your Needs and Goals
Begin with the end in mind. What are you looking for?
If your goal is to get a promotion, identify the knowledge and skills that you need in order to get from where you are to where you want to be.
If your goal is to switch careers – say from accounting to real estate – take an online real estate course to provide the necessary prerequisites for obtaining a license.
If you’re simply looking for a way to learn more about a hobby – such as painting – take an online painting class to refine your underlying skillset.
- Find out What Exists
With your needs and goals in place, you can do some research to determine what sort of classes, courses, and online education exists around the topics and niches that you’re interested in pursuing.
At first, your search will feel like trying to drink from a fire hose. But you’ll eventually narrow the focus down to what’s valuable and interesting. Choosing the right learning websites is half the battle.
“Some sites offer courses in every genre, while others focus on specific skill sets such as software education; or only feature classes from real universities,” Alyse Kalish writes for The Muse. “You can browse full-time and part-time courses, long videos and short clips, and interactive projects and web conversations. Some cost money or charge you monthly, but a lot are free.”
Treat this as a due diligence phase. You’re getting an idea of the “inventory” in the marketplace. Once you have a complete picture, you can refine your approach and find the best classes and courses for your needs, budget, etc.
- Ask Your Employer
If you’re seeking online coursework or training that will improve your skills on the job, ask your employer if they’d be willing to pay for it on your behalf. Most companies have training budgets and would gladly invest in a class if they knew it would help you add value to the organization.
- Leverage Free Trials
Some online courses and trainings can be rather expensive. However, most offer free trials where you’re able to take the first module or two at no cost. Use these to test the waters and see if you like the format and content of the class prior to investing your hard-earned money.
Give Your Career a Boost
You don’t have to go on a weeklong retreat, enroll in a semester of courses at a local community college, or even take a two-year MBA program. With all of the options that exist in today’s online world, learning can happen on your terms. It’s all about making a plan and seeing it through from start to finish. Where will you begin?