In a competitive job market, employers typically encounter many highly qualified candidates with impressive resumes and interesting backgrounds—particularly among MBA candidates. When making the tough decision between one excellent candidate and another, a hiring manager will often look for something that sets you apart—fluency in another language, for instance, or a special skill.
Many of the skills that stand out to hiring managers are taught in class or learned throughout your career, but taking the initiative to teach yourself new skills is a great way to bolster your resume. You can find anything on the internet these days. Platforms like Coursera, Udemy, or edX offer a bevy of free or low-cost courses that you can take at your own pace, and there are many other websites and products dedicated to teaching specific skillsets.
If you're looking for ways to bolster your resume and stand out from the crowd, here are ten great skills you can teach yourself.
2.) Graphic Design
Employers love to see experience in a wide variety of programs, and if even basic Photoshop skills are something you can add to your repertoire, you'll be able to demonstrate versatility and creativity. Format Magazine (a publication of Format, the portfolio-building platform) compiled a great list of 11 free online graphic design courses, which even includes a course from MIT OpenCourseWare.
3.) Content Management Systems (CMS)
A content management system is a platform that manages the creation of digital content for a website. While many companies use their own in-house, proprietary CMS to host their website content, many others use services like SquareSpace or WordPress. Because every CMS is different, learning how to use one is specific to each. However, platforms like WordPress offer free or low-cost tutorials to teach you how to use them (check out WP 101 as an example). Being familiar with the features of at least one CMS puts you at an advantage when it's time to learn a new one.
4.) Microsoft Excel
This seems either obvious or cliché (and it probably shouldn't go on your resume), but there is no overstating the importance of knowing at least a few handy Excel formulas. With enough formulas to fill an entire spreadsheet (there's a reason Udemy's course contains 16 hours of videos), there's virtually no limit to what you can do with Excel. Knowing your way around a workbook will make your job much easier.
5.) Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization is an essential component of any company's online success. SEO is essentially a multidisciplinary strategy for optimizing a website in order to appear on the first page of Google when somebody searches for a term relevant to your business. It's a booming and rapidly changing industry, and employers are always on the lookout for people who keep up with it. Moz, a leading SEO platform, has a free Beginner's Guide to SEO and a truly insightful blog that offers plenty of resources.
6.) Marketing Analytics
Understanding how to analyze a company's performance with respect to its marketing efforts, and gleaning insights from trends, data, and user behavior is a highly impressive skill. Google Analytics, which is one of the most popular tools for measuring marketing performance, has a free online class called Analytics Academy that can teach you the basics or help you refine your advanced skills. The Moz blog also has an extensive analytics section.
7.) Social Media Marketing
A brand's reputation and growth on social media depend on so much more than posting content. Successful social media marketing is an entire strategy that depends on following trends, analyzing data, and maintaining a relationship with your followers. Again, Moz has an extensive section on their blog devoted to this topic, and DIY Genius has a great list of 10 free online courses for social media marketing.
Being able to write professionally is absolutely essential; copywriting, however, isn't a skill that everyone has. The ability to write persuasively and with purpose, particularly for the web, is definitely a skill that might come in handy when you least expect it. Copy Hackers has an entire suite of copywriting tutorials, articles, and other resources.
9.) Stock Trading
Whether you're in investment banking or stock trading, knowing how the stock market works is an invaluable tool, both personally and professionally. Investopedia, StockTrader.com, and Morningstar, Inc. all offer great information to help get you started. Your bank may also provide resources and advice.
Blockchain is the ridiculously complicated technology behind bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which is arguably one of today's buzziest industries. The FinTech industry, especially, is looking for people who keep up with this emerging technology. Coursera has a Blockchain Basics course, and Medium also points to some good resources.
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