Online learning is revolutionizing the way people build our careers. Comprehensive programming and design courses enable us to hone and develop new skills, make massive career shifts, and earn more money. Seems like a win-win for employees and employers alike.
But some hiring managers are still skeptical of online training and fall back on a college degree as the standard for a good hire. That reality is changing, but there’s still a high threshold for proving your worth through e-learning. So how do you persuade potential employers that you’ve done more than watch a few unvetted YouTube videos on how to code an app?
Follow these three steps to win them over on both you and the value of your online learning:
1. Choose a credible service
There’s a lot of great information out there on blogs, YouTube, and lesser-known tutorial programs. But as valuable as those resources can be, employers can’t judge the quality of some random site — and frankly, neither can you. Learning from a variety of sources is kind of like picking out books at a library. You might find gems in each one, but you’re not going to opt for a book over taking a course from a teacher who is experienced in the field.
Certified learning programs like Lynda, Udemy, One Month, and General Assembly guarantee quality control, and their curated courses provide the most value in the shortest amount of time. Their instructors are often versed in the most current industry issues, and those insights provide an edge when positioning you for different jobs.
An online certificate can actually be more attractive than a master’s degree in some fields because it’s proof that you have up-to-the-minute skills; you’ll be able to dive right in when you’re hired.
However, employers want to see that you’re learning from licensed, reputable platforms because then they can trust the quality of your training. Your best bet is to look for officially sanctioned university courses or programs online that are verified by established businesses.
2. Expand your skill set
The web is increasingly populated with stories of people who changed fields or boosted their salaries through online training. One of our students, Sarah, a graphic designer, jump-started her career and redesigned her firm’s website after taking HTML and Ruby on Rails courses online. Another one of our students, a man in his 50s, used the service to learn coding languages so he could leave his factory job for the comfort of an air-conditioned agency office (where he now works as a programmer and makes double his previous salary).
Online learning has created unprecedented opportunities for developing new skills, and employers want to attract people who are ambitious and motivated enough to take advantage of this shift.
3. Include certifications throughout your resume
Once you’ve completed online training, don’t just stick the information at the bottom of your resume in the skills section. That’s a great place to expand on what you’ve learned, but you need to insert the certification higher up so it doesn’t get overlooked.
You have six seconds to grab a hiring manager’s attention, so put the most pertinent information at the top. List your online courses under education, and even add certifications to your LinkedIn title. For instance, if you just finished a Rails course, you can include “Ruby on Rails certified” after your name.
When assessing a potential hire, I usually ask, “What has this person done since college, and has he or she advanced his education beyond his or her degree?” I always appreciate having that information up front.
You can also list your training in LinkedIn’s certification area. Accredible, a certification service that many online learning platforms use (Accredible powers Udacity’s new Nanodegree programs) to verify their courses, provides a simple button for adding the information to LinkedIn, so there’s no reason not to post that information right away. You never know when someone might need the skills you’ve just cultivated, and you want to stay open to every opportunity.
The job environment isn’t what it used to be. People don’t stay in one spot for 20 years anymore; things move much faster now. Taking online courses and consistently improving your skills shows employers that you learn quickly and are willing to adapt to new roles. That’s an incredibly valuable trait to have, and they’ll be more inclined to invest in someone with versatile abilities than someone who hasn’t voluntarily taken a class since college graduation.