What’s standing in between you and your dream job? It’s probably less than you think. If you are interested in gaining skills for your career development - stick around! We've got some unconventional ideas for how you can gain the skills you need for the position you want.
Check out this list of some ways that you can get the experience and skills you’re missing...without having to get another degree.
You can find volunteer opportunities in pretty much any area. There are many sites that help connect you with positions in your area, such as volunteermatch.org and justserve.org.
Benefits of volunteering:
Develop soft skills
Through volunteering, you will develop many soft skills that are transferable to your next job. Some of these skills might include time management, communication, and empathy.
So, while it might be better, for career development purposes, to volunteer in a relevant industry, any volunteer experience you have is going to make you a better candidate for most jobs.
Give back to the community
Volunteering is a great way to get involved in your local community and give back. When you volunteer, you really do make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.
Helping others is a great thing to do, and this will be reflected in your own sense of purpose and happiness. It also shows potential employers that you care about your community and the people in it, which speaks to your character.
Get relevant work experience
Volunteer experience is extremely valuable to hiring managers. In fact, in a survey by Deloitte, 82 percent of hiring managers said they were more likely to choose candidates with relevant volunteer experience.
What’s more, 85 percent said that they would be more willing to overlook other resume flaws if a candidate had volunteer experience.
Volunteering is a very helpful way for you to get experience related to your desired job. It’s also a great way to learn more about the industry you’re interested in going into.
And it helps you stand out on a resume by showing that you are dedicated to your field and helping make your community a better place.
Learn more about yourself
Volunteering is a great way to learn about yourself and your interests. Through volunteering, you might discover types of work that you really like, as well as work that you want to avoid in the future.
Volunteering is a fantastic way to explore some of your interests and test out if they are something you would like to pursue in the future.
The people you meet while volunteering are likely to have similar interests and passions as you, and possibly similar career paths. This provides a great opportunity to discuss your goals and ideas, as well as build strong relationships.
Some of the people you meet might even be able to provide you with a great reference or share opportunities with you in the future.
Benefits of attending webinars:
Get up to speed and stay up to date
With our world full of technology, it can be tough to stay updated on the latest in your industry. But going out of your way to do so will be to your benefit. It helps you stay competitive in the job market.
In addition, it will make you a lifelong learner. Being a lifelong learner is not only good for your career development, but also for your brain and for your well-being.
Because webinars are so plentiful, and they often focus on topics that are current and relevant, they are a fantastic tool for staying up to date in your industry.
Flexible and convenient
A big draw of webinars is that they are so convenient. Because they are online, you don’t have to travel to attend one. This alone can save you large amounts of time and money. On top of that, many of them are available for a low cost or for free.
Additionally, the options for webinars are pretty much limitless. You can find an endless selection of live and recorded webinars online.
With so many different ones out there, you are bound to find some that will be useful to you, and that will work with your schedule. There are many websites that put together lists of upcoming webinars, so you can easily find ones that will be relevant to you.
You’re attending a webinar because you are hoping to stay up to date with current industry news and skills. And because you’re interested in the content. Well, so is everyone else there!
Webinars provide a great opportunity to meet and interact with like-minded people and build new professional connections. Don’t be shy to speak up if you have a question, a thought you want to discuss, or if someone else has a great idea you want to hear more about.
Most open positions aren’t even posted online, they are filled through networking and internal referrals. So, putting yourself out there can lead to opportunities that aren’t even being advertised, increasing the likelihood that you will find the role you’ve been wanting.
Easy access to recordings
Ever attended a seminar or lecture that you thought was interesting, but after a week went by you struggled to recall all the important details? Fortunately, since webinars are often recorded, you likely be able to find a link to them.
This feature of webinars is definitely a part of their appeal. Since they are recorded, you don’t have to worry about taking amazing notes, and can put more energy into actively participating in the dialogue. You can always go back and re-watch points that you missed or need to reinforce your understanding of.
Benefits of taking online courses:
There are several websites that offer low-cost or free online courses. This makes them a great and accessible alternative to taking in-person classes at your local university.
You can find these on sites such as LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, HubSpot, and Google Digital Garage - or simply by searching “free online courses”.
Many online courses are offered by highly regarded and prestigious institutions. They are well-designed to help students learn most effectively.
Through these classes, you’ll have access to instructors who are experts in the field and can gain critical knowledge from them.
You stand out
Taking online courses in your own time demonstrates that you are motivated to learn and improve your skills. It shows that you are willing to take the initiative and go that extra mile to achieve your goals.
It also communicates that you have a genuine interest in the subject matter. These are qualities that are highly desirable to employers and will make you stand out as a great candidate.
Gain experiences you can highlight on your resume
Often in online courses, they will ask you to put together a project or presentation to demonstrate what you’ve learned in the course. When completing these assignments, it is important that you don't phone them in.
They may seem low-stakes and irrelevant to your career, but the more effort you put into them, the greater the benefit will be to you later.
These kinds of projects are great talking points in an application or interview. By including details about your experience with the course, you can prove that it was worthwhile and that you went above and beyond. This can bolster your application.
Courses can be as specific as you need
At a college or university program, your options for courses might be limited. You might need to complete certain courses that are graduation requirements, even if they are not necessarily relevant to your future career.
But with online courses, you can pretty much find any course you need. Everything on the web is available to you. Courses can be as general as an introduction to finance, or as specific as an in-depth guide to Microsoft Excel.
Upon completion of the webinar or online course, they often give you a certificate. This is great because it is something specific to put on a resume that shows you have been working on your skills.
This can help to make up for where you are lacking in work experience or other credentials.
In addition, if you’re looking for a particular course, you might be out of luck due to scheduling conflicts or availability issues.
However, with online courses, there are so many options. In addition, they are often self-paced, so you can make them work for your schedule.
Mentorship is a long-term professional relationship that can benefit both people involved.
To choose a mentor, think about someone who you admire and whose career you take inspiration from. They can be a mutual friend, a family member, a past manager, or anyone else in your circle.
When you’ve found someone who you think would make a suitable mentor, schedule a meeting with them to explain the guidance you’re seeking and why you’d like them to be your mentor.
Understand that not everyone will be able to take on the time commitment that comes with being a mentor, but you are likely to find someone who has both the availability and the enthusiasm to assume this role.
Benefits of mentorships:
What a mentor can help you with:
Help you set and achieve your goals
You might not know how to turn your aspirations into reality, but a mentor can give you insights and ideas that may not have crossed your mind. They have a different perspective and can see things from a different vantage point.
A mentor can help you set goals, offering guidance and advice for your career growth. They have helpful knowledge about what it will take to get to where you are going from where you are.
They can also hold you accountable, and make sure that you are making progress toward your goals. A mentor will also support you, providing encouragement along the way. One big benefit of having a mentor is that you don’t have to work toward your goals alone.
Help you connect to the right people or opportunities
Your mentor is a powerful connection to have. They probably know many people who would be great for you to work with. Your mentor will get to know you, and your goals, interests, and experience. Thus, they will be in a great position to connect you with just the opportunities you need to take the next step in your career.
Provides constructive feedback
Because mentorship is a professional relationship, mentors will be in a better place to provide you with constructive feedback than your close friends or family may be. Constructive feedback is important because it allows you to learn things about yourself that might not otherwise learn - the good and the less good.
Accolades are always easy to receive, but sometimes it's hard to hear improvements are needed. Both of these sets of feedback are important and necessary for your professional growth.
There is value in all of the feedback you receive. It's good to get an outside perspective, and within the mentorship, it should always be kind and helpful.
What you can help a mentor with:
Allows them to strengthen their knowledge
You might think that your lack of experience means that you have nothing to teach your mentor, but this is not true. As someone with an interest in their field and with a drive to learn more about it, you are a great person for them to exchange ideas and insights.
You also come from a different background from them, which means that you offer a unique perspective. In addition, teaching others is a great way for them to solidify and strengthen their knowledge.
Enhances their leadership skills
Being a mentor is a leadership role. They serve as a guide to help you achieve your goals. In doing this, they learn more about how to be a successful leader. If they are able to be a mentor, they show that they are effective in managing and helping others.
Leadership skills are extremely valuable in pretty much any career. The mentor can use these skills that they’ve acquired with you to further their career.
Helps establish them as experts in their industry
A mentorship shows that they have valuable knowledge to share, and also that they are willing to help others grow their knowledge and succeed in the industry.
This demonstrates that they are experts in their field and that others have a lot to learn from them. Being a mentor will add to their qualifications, and help them stand out in an application, or when looking for a promotion.
What you can help each other with:
Ideally, you and your mentor will share common interests. This means they will be a great person to talk to and bounce ideas off. Exchanging ideas with another motivated professional is a great way to stimulate creativity. In addition, it will help keep your interest and desire to succeed in the field alive.
The main lesson that we hope you take away from this is that whatever is holding you back from your goals, there’s a workaround. You have options.
With a little determination, resourcefulness, and support from others along the way, you can close the gap between your current qualifications and those needed to secure your dream job.