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5 ways to learn new career skills for free during the COVID-19 crisis

With many live events going digital, and so many more resources already available online, now is the time to get ahead and bolster your résumé.

5 ways to learn new career skills for free during the COVID-19 crisis
[Photo: FlamingoImages/iStock]

With COVID-19 sending everyone inside, you may be wondering what to do with all the extra time at home. Instead of getting lost in the sea of scary news and social media posts, turn your attention back to work. With many live events going digital, and so many more resources already available online, now is the time to get ahead and bolster your résumé. This is how you boost your skills or learn new ones for free.

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Attend virtual events

During the quarantine, events that wouldn’t normally be available online are now being offered virtually. Large events, such as Salesforce Connections and the Adobe Summit, are not only virtual this year but free to attend—making them available to you regardless of location or budget.

To make the most out of every virtual event, treat each one as you would if you were attending in person:

  • Connect with attendees before, during, and after
  • Post on social media using the event hashtag
  • Plan ahead to find the workshops and talks that are most valuable to you

Cowork virtually

Coworking isn’t just a way to beat loneliness; it’s also a great way to learn from others and get the accountability you need to complete that course or update your résumé with new certifications. Taylor Jacobson, founder and CEO of Focusmate, explains:

“Most of us have new skills we aspire to learn, but chipping away when we’re stuck at home requires a superhuman act of willpower. We’re used to relying on in-person structures—go to a dance studio, take a yoga class, meet your guitar teacher. These structures provide the accountability to actually show up, invest time, and make progress.”

In “Find a Virtual Accountability Partner to Keep You Honest—and Focused,” Jacobson explains how he and a friend used virtual coworking to keep one another company while working on their respective projects. “What ensued was two hours of insane productivity—neither of us had experienced anything like it.”

Find a friend (or a few) and encourage each other to use this time productively. Share, learn, and get the work done so when you go back to your workplace, you’ll be ready to take your career to the next level.

Take a free digital course

It’s easier than ever to further your education and career skills with the millions of courses at your fingertips, thanks to sites such as Lynda, Udemy, Skillshare, and much more. With COVID-19 keeping you home, now you have the time to dedicate to starting and completing a course. What’s more, some course sites are now offering discounts to make learning available to everyone in quarantine.

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If you’re not sure which skills to focus on, read job ads for the position you want to get. A great place to start is with the skills you’re lacking.

Watch a webinar

Webinars are a great way to learn more about a specific topic in a short period of time, usually 60 minutes. Even better, they’re guided by someone, often in real time, so you can ask questions and enjoy that “classroom feel.” While there are hundreds of organizations and brands that offer webinars, here are a few to start with if you’re looking for free options:

Earn a new certification

Take webinars one step further and walk away with a certification when you’re done with your learning. Getting certified shows that you passed an exam given by a certifying body, which you can then leverage when job hunting or asking for a promotion. Depending on your industry, there are multiple certification options, programs, and organizations to choose from. For example:

  • In marketing, you can certify with Google Analytics, Google Ads, Salesforce, Hubspot, and Facebook.
  • In IT, you can get certifications in project management, risk, routing, or design.
  • In sales, you can become a Certified Inside Sales Professional (CISP), Certified Sales Leadership Professional (CSLP), and much more.

As in choosing a digital course, consider the areas where your skills are lacking by checking job ads. There are often specifications about required or preferred certifications. When choosing a certifying body to work with, check the credentials of the organization to ensure legitimacy. You can even check with your boss or a coworker if you’re unsure.

Why you need to learn new career skills now

Use this extra time to bolster your résumé and learn new skills that will help you become better at what you do. When you’re able to head back into work, you can leverage those new skills for a raise, a promotion, or even to take on a new role, allowing you to truly make the most of this uncertain time.


Jessica Thiefels is the founder and CEO of Jessica Thiefels Consulting, an organic content marketing agency for midsized B2B businesses outsourcing content marketing. She’s been writing for more than 10 years and has been featured in top publications including Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Fast Company. She also regularly contributes to Glassdoor, Score.org, and more. Follow her on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.

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