Boosting Your CV

Boosting Your CV: How Online Education Can Help Your Career

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Abstract: CV is your personal sales brochure. The question is, does yours perform as good as it can? Learn 3 strategies to make your job applications more successful!

Today’s jobs market is an aggressive environment with extremely high competition. How can you make yourself stand out when your skills are similar to those of hundreds of other applicants?

Luckily, this question is not rhetorical. There is a simple way to improve your application by adding just a line or two to your current CV.

The best part?

It doesn’t cost you much – the only investment you need to make is your time. You can increase your career chances in an incredibly cheap and comfortable way. And by “comfortable” we mean that you can be sipping wine on your own couch while advancing your knowledge and skills.

That’s right. We are talking about online education.

There are three things you can do to advance your career – online, for free, starting right now.

1. Taking online courses which improve your professional skills

Start by researching what skills are sought after in your industry, then head to online education platforms and find where you can gain them. The most widely known platforms such as edX, Coursera and Udemy offer high-quality courses on a great variety of topics including but not limited to science, programming, psychology, engineering, marketing, linguistics, literature, and writing.

Nowadays, you can even take online medical courses such as PALS that can make you a more qualified medical professional.

There is also a number of platforms focused on specific topics, such as Codecademy (programming), General Assembly (design, marketing, technology), Adobe KnowHow (design, photography, programming, technology, business) and many more.

A recent study of Coursera users shows that out of all people who took some online course for career benefits, 26% reported to have found a new job. A total of 87% reported a career benefit of some kind – getting a raise, a salary increase, and other tangible benefits.

One thing to keep in mind when choosing a course is that introductory-level online courses will only make you look better if they are not teaching something that you are supposed to know already. Say, if you are applying for an SMM Manager position, you wouldn’t take an “SMM for Beginners” course to bolster your credibility.

2. Taking online courses that increase your efficiency and productivity

If you are not sure which specialized course would be most suitable in your current situation, opt for one of the all-time classics. The five skills required in every role are communication, organization, research, analysis, and problem solving. One of the following courses could do the trick:

  • Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills on Coursera
  • Introduction to Public Speaking on edX
  • Communicating Strategically on edX
  • High-Impact Business Writing on Coursera

Once put on your CV, these will stand for your increased ability to conduct negotiations/deliver an impactful speech/write a catchy sales email, et cetera (make an emphasis based on your specific situation and the position desired).

3. Learning (or improving) a foreign language

With so many businesses going global thanks to the modern technology, adding a foreign language to your set of skills can improve your employment prospects drastically. Even if speaking a second language is not among the requirements, once put on your CV, it will let your hiring manager know that you are proactive, globally-minded, and dedicated to personal development.

Luckily, just like with online courses, it doesn’t take much of your resources to learn a second language online. With so many services being free (at least to some extent) and completely flexible to your needs and the time you are willing to spend on studying, there is no excuse not to do it! Some of the most known services of this sort are Duolingo, Linguotica, Babbel, and Memrise. If you prefer taking more “standardized” language courses online, there’s plenty of those too, for example:

  • Chinese Language: Learn Basic Mandarin on edX
  • Spanish I, MIT OpenCourseWare
  • Italian Language and Culture on edX
  1. [Bonus] Communicating your increased value through your CV

Now, how do you best present your newly gained knowledge and skills? The secret is to list your achievements where they add most value. The options would be:

  • Education section of your CV. It’s a perfect place for the achievements and certifications which are relevant to the work you expect to do.
  • Another option is to create a separate section such as “Professional Training” or “Personal Advancement”.
  • If the course is not relevant to the job itself but you believe that it demonstrates your personality in a positive and appealing way, you can mention it in an interest section of your resume.
  • First impressions are the most lasting ones. Before seeing your CV, a hiring manager may look at your cover letter, so if you find it appropriate, mention your self-education achievements (among other things) right there to raise an interest. If you need help writing your cover letter, you can turn to professional CV writers who can be found here.

For your CV to make a perfect shot every time, consider editing it for each of the applications and only adding the courses relevant to the particular role for which you are applying. It may be somewhat time-consuming, but it is definitely worth it to create a tailored CV instead of sending out one generic CV listing everything you’ve ever done in your life.

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