5 Free or Cheap Ways to Expand Your Job Skills

The workplace is a demanding and competitive space, and it’s often necessary to update and expand your job skills in order to succeed. However, doing so can be difficult sometimes because so many people who work full-time have complicated and demanding schedules, which makes it difficult to find the time to actively pursue new skills. The cost of training can also be a deterrent at times.

However, there are affordable and often free ways to expand your job skills. There are several Microsoft tutorials that only take a few minutes to complete, and learning these new skills can certainly help you succeed at your job. There are also a number of free online courses, as well as several other ways to learn and improve without spending too much time or money. Here are five free or cheap ways to expand your job skills that you don’t want to miss out on.

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Microsoft tutorials

Microsoft Office programs are used in pretty much every single job. Whether you know Microsoft Word a little or you understand most of the different applications fairly well, it’s a good bet that you could learn more. Computer skills are extremely important to doing your job well, but expanding your skills can help you move up to take on more job responsibilities, and even transition into a more demanding position.

There are many different training programs available for Microsoft Office, including training for the 2013 applications. The site also offers free 15-minute webinars that you can view. Sometimes employees wait until their company organizes a specific training in order to learn about these applications, but taking the initiative to learn yourself will expand your job skills and will cost you nothing.

Free online college courses

The recent increase in free college classes has helped many people expand their job skills, and lately, even some of the best-known colleges are joining in. According to Wired, MOOCs (massively open online courses), have risen and fallen in terms of popularity, but many experts are arguing that it is now possible to get a quality education online without paying a lot of money.

These classes have given people all over the world the opportunity to learn for free. There are also some potential negatives, though, including the fact that some people think these courses have lousy teachers. But it’s important to remember that if you are hoping to learn a specific skill, a free online course can help provide that for you.

Work-related conferences

Some people really enjoy attending work-related conferences, while others dread them. However, if you choose to go, you can gain a lot from a work conference. If you are able to present, you will practice developing and organizing a presentation, sharing in front of an audience, and answering questions, as well.

If you simply attend and you choose your workshops based on what you really want to learn about, you will have the opportunity to hear new ideas and sharpen your own knowledge about your field based on what you learn. Conferences are also a great place to network. Depending on if you are presenting and whether your company is willing to sponsor your trip, you may have to pay to attend a conference. However, often, the knowledge you will accrue is worth it.

Company-run workshops or trainings are another great way to improve your skills.

Volunteering

Volunteering is a free and easy way to expand your job skills, and yet, many people either forget about the possibility of volunteering or just don’t feel that they have enough time. Not only is volunteering a great resume booster and a wonderful way to network, but you can truly learn new skills by volunteering.

Whether you lack communication skills, presentation skills, or even budgeting or fundraising skills, you can almost always find a particular volunteer position that will help you learn a specific skill — and typically, you will learn more than one. Volunteering is also a great way to get your foot in the door of an organization that you might want to work for later, and it’s a good way to test out a potential career change.

Joining a club or professional organization

Like volunteering, joining a specific club or organization can also help you improve your skills. Organizations that are affiliated with your job field can be a great place to start, and they sometimes have similar advantages to attending a conference. However, you can also learn a great deal from becoming part of an organization or club that isn’t directly related to your job.

Especially if you take on a leadership role, such as becoming a president of a club or even a treasurer or development officer, you will learn new skills that might be vital in helping you to move up in your job or find a new job. You also will probably find that you have fun as you learn. These clubs sometimes charge a fee, but the fee is usually minimal.

There are many other affordable or free ways to improve your job skills. Try taking on more responsibility at work — if your boss knows that you want to learn new skills and you really want a challenge, he or she will probably be happy to oblige.

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