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How to learn new skills

You don’t have to go to grad school to make yourself more marketable.

How to learn new skills

There’s always something new you could be learning to become better at your job—especially if you’re looking to move up, or onto another one. Knowledge is power, as they say. But if the thought of going back to school seems overwhelming, don’t worry. You might not have to.

A 2013 employer survey by the American Association of Colleges and Universities found that 93% of employers care more about skills than a degree in a certain subject. So you don’t have to go back to pulling all-nighters in the library.

Monster asked career experts for the three most sought-after skills employers are looking for—and some tips for how to learn those skills fast. Here’s what they had to say.

Coding

Grab some java and start learning JavaScript! “Technical skills, namely coding, are all the rage right now,” says Laurence Bradford, founder of the technology-focused blog Learn to Code With Me. What many people don't realize, he says, is that having coding skills can help one land a range of careers—not just software engineering or web developer roles.  

“Coding skills can help an individual land all kinds of opportunities from marketing automation to product management to user experience design to customer success and beyond.”

Bradford recommends people start with HTML and CSS then JavaScript. Luckily, you can start learning in just nine weeks with this Web Development Bootcamp.

Public Speaking

The Association of American Colleges and Universities found that 85% of employers rank oral communication as a very important skill when hiring recent college grads. Being able to speak clearly and confidently will help you nail the job search, from networking to the job interview.

“It’s crucial to be able to confidently speak about yourself and your accomplishments,” says Emily Merrell, founder of the New York-city based networking group Six Degrees Society. “Getting comfortable with public speaking is essential to being able to promote yourself, and you’ll need the same skills to show your interviewer you’re the right person for the job.”

Nancy Halpern, an executive at the New York City-based executive coaching firm KNH Associates recommends recording a video of yourself as you practice public speaking. As you watch the video, write down your strengths and weaknesses.

“Try to be specific—not judgmental,” she says. “Saying ‘I'm boring!’ isn't as helpful as ‘I stare at my notes the whole time.’ Then, list three things you would change. Focus on those changes for takes two, three, four, and more. Practice makes progress.”

Ready to brush up your skills? Join a group such as Toastmasters International or Dale Carnegie Training or take public speaking classes on platforms such as Udemy and Skillshare. Pro tip: If you sign up for Skillshare through Monster, they’ll give you your first month free!

Excel and PowerPoint

Technically these are two separate computer skills, but they often go hand-in-hand, and they can be mastered in three months or less since you’re probably familiar with the basic functions of both.

These programs are key to making yourself indispensable at work: with Excel, you can easily share data or performance results with higher-ups, and with PowerPoint, you can create persuasive presentations to convey your ideas in a powerful medium.

“Obtaining a certificate in intermediate, or advanced Excel or PowerPoint can quickly catapult someone ahead of the crowd in a very short time,” says Andrew Stenhouse, a professor of organizational psychology at Vanguard University in California.

Take an online class in PowerPoint or Excel and you’ll have the skills to impress your boss, plus the credentials to make your resume more impressive to employers.

 


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