In addition to watching shows on Netflix and learning to cook new dishes, why not enrol for an online course and brush up a useful professional skill?

7 Professional skills you can build using these online courses

The coronavirus pandemic may have scuppered some of your 2020 goals, but you can rest assured that when things go back to normal, whenever that is, everyone is going to return – not dejected, but upskilled. They would have learned a whole bunch of things that can help them professionally and personally. 

You too can utilise this downtime, whether you’re working from home or not, to build a professional skill that you’d like to have. But instead of just randomly signing up for an online course that seems interesting, think about an area you can improve on, or something you struggle with. When your purpose of enrolling for a course is clear, it’s easier to stick through it till the end and not lose motivation in between. 

Here are a few skills that are the most relevant and crucial for every working professional, and the courses you can take to develop them. 

1. Negotiation 

Right from the job interview where you discuss your salary to getting stakeholders to work the way you want in the specified timeline, negotiating is a skill that lets you work smarter, not harder. You could be effective and clear in your communication, but negotiation is a completely different skill set. It involves understanding the motives and wants of the other person, knowing your own, and perceiving and pitching how things could best work out. 

Related: 6 Soft skills that can help you grow in your career

2. Team building and collaboration

Irrespective of the industry you’re in or the job title you have, career progression requires you to work with and manage people to meet your work goals. Working with people can be difficult and tricky because each person is a complex individual with their own set of personal motives, weaknesses, and mindset. Effective team communication and collaboration is key, and now with the ‘new normal’ of working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, this is even more crucial.

3. Personal branding

You could be the most brilliant person in the room and the most hard-working, but none of that will matter if you can’t strategically self-advocate and build a personal brand. In situations such as a job interview or a networking event, where time’s a constraint and impressing the person in front of you through your words is the goal, effective personal branding helps the most. Especially in this digital world, everything from your Instagram account to your LinkedIn profile is a platform for self-branding. 

4. Work-life balance

It’s important to acknowledge that the kind of work-life balance you have depends as much on yourself as on your employer. While you can’t really change the management or work culture of your workplace, you can definitely work on the personal front to significantly improve your quality of life and work satisfaction. By understanding what joy, inner peace, and life goals mean to you and how all those fit in with your daily time management, responsibilities, and work demands, you can achieve a much better work-life balance. 

Related: Working moms: A day in the life of these unsung heroes during the pandemic

5. Finance and accounting

If you’ve never taken an accounting course in college, the world of finance and accounting can seem intimidating. However, whether it’s for your personal budgeting or for starting your own business, knowing the fundamentals of accounting and finance is very essential. Understanding things such as how to read financial statements, application of key economics and economic concepts, the process of budgeting, etc. can only benefit you, irrespective of the industry you’re in.

6. Digital marketing 

Digital marketing is one of those areas that will only grow because the whole world now lives online. Whether it’s because you’ve always been curious, want to make a career switch, start freelancing, or set up a personal website, learning the essentials of digital marketing will go a long way. Content marketing, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), social media marketing, etc. are some of the core areas of digital marketing. 

  • Digital Unlocked (Google)
  • Social Media Marketing Specialization (Northwestern University)
  • Facebook Blueprint (Facebook)

Related: Work habits that can boost your professional life 

7. Foreign languages

Learning any foreign language, whether it’s something as popular as French or Mandarin, or something as niche as Finnish or Korean, adds a very valuable skill set to you as an individual. In addition to helping you become a global citizen, learning a foreign language also makes you more interesting and opens the door to a whole new slew of jobs. Additionally, the process of learning a new language as an adult benefits the brain in several ways, such as improving one’s memory and enhancing decision-making skills. 

Last words

Most of these courses are free to audit. What this means is that all the course content, such as videos and reading materials, are freely available to you online. However, if you want to take graded tests and acquire a certification for that course, you’ll need to pay a fee. So start by auditing any of these courses first, and decide later if it’s something in which you wish to earn an official certification. Read these inspiring stories about 4 Successful businesswomen with whom you can learn for a better financial future. 


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