It goes without saying that many of us have a great deal of free time on our hands these days. Whether it be time saved commuting by working from home, reduced hours at your job, or any other number of pandemic-related reasons, the amount of time available for personal pursuits has never been greater. Sure, you could fill those hours binge-watching your favorite shows or hopping aboard the bread baking bandwagon. Or, you could maximize your productivity by brushing up on skills to make you more valuable at your current job or better your odds of finding a new one. If you’re looking to enhance your job prospects in 2021, read on for our list of five in-demand skills that you can master from home.
Not so long ago, many people viewed coding as something akin to a secret language that few could understand. Today, it’s all but guaranteed to make an appearance under the “not required but preferred” section of any job posting. While there are a seemingly overwhelming number of coding languages to chose from, there are a few that offer the “best bang for your buck” for beginners.
For those more interested in the software development side of coding, Python is considered to be one of the easiest to learn and most widely used coding languages today. Its structure is very similar to English, making it easy to read even for inexperienced developers. It’s used in many popular frameworks and can be found everywhere from popular applications like Instagram to cutting-edge fields like machine learning and cloud computing. Granted, it will take most people longer to become proficient in Python than HTML and CSS, but the growing list of career options it presents make Python well worth the extra effort to learn.
Where to learn
Thankfully, there is no shortage of “learn to code” resources online. One of the most highly-reviewed coding curriculums is also entirely free. Free Code Camp is an excellent non-profit resource that teaches users to code through gamified challenges and projects. After completing one of their courses, you’ll also be presented with a digital certificate which you can add to your LinkedIn profile. For a more bespoke approach, Udemy offers hundreds of courses on every programming language imaginable, with skill levels ranging from absolute beginner to expert.
2. Learn a Second Language
Much like coding, the ability to speak a second language adds undeniable value to any role. As the way we do business goes increasingly digital, so too does the need for multilingual employees grow. Whether you’re interested in seeking opportunities abroad or assisting international clients from home, fluency in other languages will always open the door to new career possibilities.
Unsure of which language to learn? Mandarin has long since been considered one of, if not the most important language for global business. As the most widely-spoken language in the world with over 1.3 billion native speakers, it’s understandable why. With China’s GDP expected to grow over 8% in 2021, Mandarin continues to seem like a safe bet for those looking to broaden their career horizons. Alternatively, Arabic also holds a spot in the top five most widely-spoken languages in the world. However, as it is considered one of the most challenging languages for English speakers to learn, it could prove to be more valuable to employers.
Where to learn
Ask any polyglot, and they’ll tell you that the only way to learn a language is to actively use it. Before jumping into conversations with a native speaker, there are plenty of websites and apps to prepare you with some basic vocabulary and grammar. The biggest name in language learning apps is undoubtedly Duolingo. With over 36 language courses available (including Klingon and Valyrian for the over-achieving nerds among us), it’s easy to see why they’ve built up a userbase of over 300 million users. Once you’ve learned how to construct sentences in your new language, HelloTalk is an amazing free app that connects you to native speakers around the world. With text, voice and video options, it’s the perfect way to polish your multilingual skills in a casual, conversational manner.
3. Social Media Marketing
As recently as fifteen years ago, social media was considered little more than a passing fad. Today, it’s a $100 billion a year global industry that shows no sign of stopping. In order to stay competitive in today’s market, businesses of all sizes, from independent coffee shops to multi-national corporations, need an active social media feed. Developing a brand voice, creating content catered to a certain demographic, and analyzing trends in order to remain relevant are all tasks that require a deeper understanding of social media marketing to be effective.
While some larger companies can afford to hire a dedicated social media marketing specialist for the role, many others rely on their employees to pick up the slack and post from the company accounts when possible. By stepping up and demonstrating knowledge of social media best practices, you can easily establish yourself as a jack of all trades and strengthen your CV at the same time.
Where to learn
For those just starting out with social media marketing, LinkedIn Learning offers hundreds of educational videos on the topic. You will need a LinkedIn Learning membership in order to watch them, but the one month free trial is still plenty of time to learn the general principles, how to spot spot trends, and how to develop a marketing strategy. Once you have a solid foundation, you can keep up to date by browsing the latest posts on Social Media Examiner. Here, you’ll find countless articles and interviews by social media marketing experts. You can even subscribe to a weekly podcast for updates on the go.
4. Search Engine Optimization
As mentioned above, having a website is a necessity when doing business in the modern era. That being the case, there are currently over 400 million active sites online. Needless to say, this leads to quite a bit of competition as businesses vie for the top spot on Google and other search engines. Understandably so, as studies have shown that only 5% of users venture beyond the first page of search results.
One of the most important factors in ranking among the top results is search engine optimization, or SEO for short. Put simply, SEO is any action taken on or off your website in order to boost your search ranking. This can be as simple as getting reputable websites to post a link to your page, or as complex as speeding up your website to appease Google’s algorithms. While what factors Google considers important is a relatively black box topic, there are clear best practices. With businesses spending up to $80 billion per year on SEO services in the US alone, it is a skill well-worth learning.
Where to learn
As one of the oldest and most trusted experts in SEO, Moz is a fantastic resource for learning the ins and outs of SEO. Their website contains dozens of informative videos on the subject, but their One-Hour Guide to SEO will get you up and running in no time. When you’re ready to go more in-depth, Backlinko is one of the most detailed, up to date guides to SEO available. Be sure to sign up for their free newsletter for latest updates in the world of SEO as well.
5. Public Speaking
Though less applicable to any one particular job than the skills listed above, public speaking is an invaluable skill that everyone could stand to learn. In fact, roughly 73% of the population report experiencing anxiety when speaking in public. Beyond simply giving speeches, public speaking plays a part in many aspects of your professional life. When trying to pass a job interview or asking for a raise at your current position, presenting yourself confidently is crucial for success. If a career in sales interests you, public speaking is a key skill you will rely on every day.
Where to learn
One of the most highly rated online courses for public speaking is Dynamic Public Speaking Specialization, presented by the University of Washington. If studying three hours per week, this incredibly detailed course will take roughly five months to complete. Users can read through all of the course material for free, but will need to pay a registration fee for access to assignments and the certificate of completion. Alternatively, if you signed up for LinkedIn Learning as mentioned above, Speaking with Confidence is one of the most popular public speaking courses on the platform.
Practice Makes Perfect
Of course, learning a new skill is only half the battle. In order to be professionally viable, you’ll need hours of practice. One of the best ways to get those practice hours is in service of an NGO. With Time Auction, you can volunteer your skills to help a worthy cause while gaining practical experience and references at the same time. Once you’re ready to make the jump from practice to professional, head over to our jobs page to check out the new opportunities available to you.