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Learn These 4 Skills to Boost Your Career

Miriam Salpeter

It's that time of year when everyone is talking (and writing) about New Year's resolutions. Do you make a point to set goals for the new year? Are you including any professional development categories in you to-do list? If you are planning to land a new job, this is the time to plan ahead to learn something new in 2015.

Lucky for you, resolving to add some professional development to your schedule doesn't mean you need to factor in extra commuting time to take a class, adjust your schedule or add a new line item in your budget. There are many free educational content providers out there, from Duolingo to Coursera to Codecademy. If you're motivated, you can download content to your phone, and learn for 20 minutes during your commute, on the treadmill or before you go to bed at night.

Resolve to learn more in 2015. Choose one of these four career-driven goals for the new year:

1. Learn a new language. In 2010, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said only 18 percent of Americans claim to speak a language other than English. When you can add a new language to your résumé, you demonstrate initiative and cultural competence, and you distinguish yourself from other candidates.

-- Duolingo (Duolingo.com): Choose one of nine European languages, and learn for free from this crowdsourced platform.

-- Chinese for Beginners (Coursera.org): Want to learn a non-European language? Try this on-demand course from Peking University. The instructor teaches the language phonetically, so users can easily master daily expressions and basic conversations.

2. Brush up on your business and marketing skills. In a 2014 joint study by Duke University and RTI International, 73 percent of employers said they would appreciate job candidates who completed an applicable Massive Open Online Course, otherwise known as MOOC. Impress your future employer by taking initiative to learn the basics of business finance, content marketing or even entrepreneurship.

-- Introduction to Finance (Coursera.org): This course from University of Michigan will teach the frameworks and tools to measure value. It will help you be a better decision maker in both your personal life and in your business.

-- Content Strategy for Professionals (Coursera.org): Want to learn to develop better content to engage audiences? Or do you want to brush up on your current skill set and virtually meet other content professionals? This free course from Northwestern University will help you improve the written, graphic and video content you produce.

3. Learn to code. Here's a New Year's resolution for the aspiring techies out there. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects more than 200,000 job openings for software developers between 2012 and 2022. The median salary for these professionals? $96,660. If you were ever considering becoming a developer, now is the time to act.

-- Codecademy (Codecademy.com): This free site teaches coding classes in six programming languages, including Python, PHP, jQuery, Javascript and Ruby. Learn the basics of coding, or brush up on your skills before an interview.

-- Programming for Everybody (Coursera.org): If you prefer to take courses from official universities, try this offering from the University of Michigan. It has no prerequisites and "avoids all but the simplest mathematics," meaning it should be easy for anyone with basic computer skills.

4. Become a Data Scientist. Data science is quickly becoming a high-demand field. A 2011 McKinsey Global Institute report estimates that by 2018, "the United States alone could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts with the know-how to use the analysis of big data to make effective decisions." This is the perfect time to start building data science skills.

-- Data Science (Coursera.org): This "specialization," or group of courses from Johns Hopkins University, offers users the chance to learn the basics of data science, including R Programming, data analysis, research, regression models and even machine learning. Take all these courses to get a solid foundation, or try out just one to learn a specific skill. The courses are offered for free, or you can get a certificate verifying your identity starting at $29 per course.

-- Intro to Data Science (Udacity.com): This series of lectures and instructional material, taught by a data scientist at Airbnb, also teaches the basics of the field. You can watch instructor videos for free or enroll in the course for $199 per month to get coaching and project experience.

Miriam Salpeter, owner of Keppie Careers, is often quoted in major media outlets for her job search and social media expertise. Author of three books and a sought-after speaker and coach, she leverages her extensive background and successes to teach job seekers and entrepreneurs how to easily use social media marketing to accomplish their career and business goals. Salpeter also provides strategic advice and support regarding interviewing, résumé writing and personal branding.



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