Online Courses: Career Advantage, Forever

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“An investment in education gives the best returns.”

– Benjamin Franklin

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ACTUAL CASE HISTORIES: Over the last few years, many of our clients and mentees have noted that (a) they’ve recently taken career-oriented online courses, and (b) have, seemingly as a result, experienced a positive career step forward. It seems to us that the convenience, reasonable cost and inherent value of taking one or more online courses can far outweigh the requisite contribution of time, effort and expense. That is why we strongly recommend them.

LESSON TO LEARN: Many years ago we sat down and thought long and hard about what steps an employee could take to increase her or his chances of achieving a good measure of job security and career success. Among the seven steps we came up with, the first step was “Assemble Unique Human Capital.” In “plain English” that means “Make Yourself Unusually and Uniquely Valuable,” and you’re bound to do well.

Whether it’s a hiring manager, a Recruiter, an Angel Investor, or your clients, whoever is your hoped-for employer, you need to be perceived by them as the kind of person they are looking for. Consider how much extra they might pay to get the best candidate available. Consider, too, what might tempt them to pay even more to hire you, motivate and retain you for years because they value “who you are” and “what you offer.” It will be your ability to both “talk the talk” and “walk the walk,” that will create your perception of an outstanding job candidate and a “keeper,” too.

Today’s array of well-designed, informative and “human-capital-enhancing” online career-related courses offered by colleges and universities worldwide has grown into an amazing resource you can use in a targeted, near-sculpted fashion, to enhance your own Unique Human Capital, to (a) get you hired, (b) increase your day-to-day success, and (c) enhance your overall career experience so long as you remain working.

There has never before been a time when your knowing more about what you do for a living, its allied fields of support, how to best grow and market what you produce or what service you offer, has been more important. It all starts with your valuable “Unique Human Capital,” and that can be turbo-charged by one or more career-oriented online courses.

The highly competitive nature of the market for online courses has significantly increased the quality, decreased the cost, and encouraged higher and higher number of online course offerings from more and more colleges and universities.

Here’s just a handful of the thousands of online career-oriented courses:

How to Start a Start-Up
Basic French Language Skills
High Impact Business Writing
Intro to New Venture Finance
Principles of Data Analytics
Intro to Computer Science
Certificate in Animal Welfare
Disruptive Strategy
Big Data for Social Good

Expert Approach to Public Speaking
Public Health Administration
Social Media Marketing 101
How to Make iPhone Apps
Beginner’s Adobe Photoshop
Alternative Investment Management
Strategic Hospitality Marketing
Entrepreneurial Essentials
Film and Media History

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Consider these fourteen (14) thoughts:

1. Accept the fact that “A.I.” is your resume’s or application’s initial filter. No, we don’t mean Adele Ignacio or Andrew Isaacs; we mean Artificial Intelligence. Chances are an employer with more than 100 employees – and that is who posts most job openings – probably uses an Artificial Intelligence-based software application to perform their initial “weeding” of resumes and applications. If you use the “right words” your chances of passing the initial review and proceed to the interview stage go up . . . way up.

2. The cost of online courses is rather reasonable. Generally speaking, the cost of an online career-related course ranges from free to $2,500.00, inclusive of materials. Compared with the tens of thousands of dollars that a degree program can cost, it is within the range we consider reasonable. In addition, some online course providers will take into account your income and assets in offering potential scholarship by way of subsidy.

3. Speaking of cost, your employer may be willing to reimburse you for your tuition or part of it. It is now common for employers to offer reimbursement of some or all of the cost of online courses, commonly with an agreement that, if you voluntarily resign within a certain period of time after reimbursement, and thus deny them the benefit of your new knowledge, you must repay them.

4. The “R.O.I.” on this investment could be the best you’ve ever achieved. Considering all of the relevant factors, and doing just a few simple calculations, there’s little doubt that the investment in a career-oriented online course could be 100, 1,000 or even 10,000 percent.  And that doesn’t count the sense of satisfaction, achievement and pride you may enjoy.

5. The convenience of many online courses makes it quite possible to work full-time while taking your courses. Most online career-centered courses seem designed so that you can do most of your work, even participate with other students, on your own schedule. This concern for convenience seems embedded into the very fabric of the design of most online courses.

6. Some say one of the best aspects of online courses is that, at a minimum, they enable those who take them to “talk the talk.” One of our mentees who took an online career-oriented course put it this way, “Not only was I able to hold my own in interviews, but it also enabled me to discuss with others who are already working in the field without coming across as a rank beginner.” Most career-oriented online courses we have reviewed have been very helpful when it comes to important words, concepts and skills in the particular field.

7. By this means, employees with “grey hair” can demonstrate their ability to keep up with their younger counterparts regarding fast-changing industry, technical and cultural trends. Is there an industry or sector that is not undergoing rapid transformation by means of new technology? Whether it involves data analytics, algorithms, alternative reality or artificial intelligence, taking even one course on the subject matter can yield confidence that an older job applicant is comfortable with rapidly changing technical trends.

8. And younger applicants can portray unusual experience, initiative and expertise far beyond their years. Just as older folks can use strategically chosen online courses as a career booster, so, too, can the younger among us use these courses to show a “steady hand on the wheel” far beyond their years.

9. Networking opportunities. Online? One unexpected but commonly noted aspect of the experience of taking career-oriented online courses is the networking opportunity many of them provide. Whether it is a required exchange of essays, or group discussions, or even simply, “I took that course, too,” those who design this experiences seem fully aware of this particular attraction for many applicants.

10. Basis for requesting more responsibility, a transfer to a growing department, or a more lucrative role. It is our experience that any request to an employer is best received by the employer when it is delivered on the wings of a convincing rationale which is in the employer’s interests. Said a bit differently, don’t say “I want, I need, I deserve,” but rather, “If given this, it would be good for the company, as well.” As an example, “If I were to be provided an enhanced title, I am certain I would open more doors to potential investors.”

In this context, your being more knowledgeable, more capable and thus better equipped to create revenue is a great basis for requesting a promotion, better title, or even additional resources so that you can put your newfound abilities to the employer’s advantage.

11. The online course(s) you choose can be strategically selected to selectively drive a new career trajectory. Whatever direction you want to take your future, well, this is the simplest, most direct way to “turn the wheel” of your career trajectory in the direction of your dreams.

12. Even a basic ability to communicate in a second or third language can be a critical element in your being hired. Whether it is French, Japanese, Portuguese, Arabic or Mandarin, if you are the sole applicant with a command of the language you may well become the sole applicant who is hired. And some industries lend themselves particularly to one or more particular language abilities.

13. Your comfort during interviews portrays confidence and “confidence sells” like nothing else. Ever spoken with someone who frequently uses words incorrectly? Seems nervous and jittery? Does not seem to know what they are talking about? Now imagine your being the exact opposite in an interview: industry words and phrases used with precision and savvy; cool, calm and collected; knowledgeable in all aspects of what you’re talking about, and even a good idea of what the future portends. Comfort creates confidence, and confidence sells like nothing else does. It’s that simple, and powerful.

14. Even very prestigious educational institutions have jointed the march toward career-oriented online learning. Just a few years ago a friend who shall remain anonymous shared with me her view that online courses, whether individual, career-oriented courses or degree programs, would never be respected in the workplace. It seems she was not only wrong in her prediction, but I know that her grown children have all taken courses of this kind, as well.

In Summary . . .

Surely, you can see that we are firm believers in the power of knowledge, and its potential lifetime leverage for employees. Not only is the return on investment likely great for the time, effort and expense devoted, but the inner sense of confidence, achievement and focus are great for the soul. Please give some thought to how such a course or two could help you.

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SkloverWorkingWisdom™ emphasizes smart negotiating – and navigating – for yourself at work. Negotiation and navigation of work and career issues requires that you think “out of the box,” and build value and avoid risks at every point in your career. We strive to help you understand what is commonly before you – traps and pitfalls, included – and to avoid all likely bumps in the road. Taking career-oriented online courses is one way to do just that.

Always be proactive.  Always be creative.  Always be persistent.  Always be vigilant. Always be resilient. And always do what you can to achieve for yourself, your family, and your career. Take all available steps to increase and secure employment “rewards” and eliminate or reduce employment “risks.” That’s what SkloverWorkingWisdom™ is all about.

*A note about our Actual Case Histories: In order to preserve client confidences, and protect client identities, we alter certain facts, including the name, age, gender, position, date, geographical location, and industry of our clients. The essential facts, the point illustrated and the lesson to be learned, remain actual.

Please Note: This Email Newsletter is not legal advice, but only an effort to provide generalized information about important topics related to employment and the law. Legal advice can only be rendered after formal retention of counsel and must take into account the facts and circumstances of a particular case. Those in need of legal advice, counsel or representation should retain competent legal counsel licensed to practice law in their locale.

Sklover Working Wisdom™ is a trademarked newsletter publication of Alan L. Sklover, of Sklover & Company, LLC, a law firm dedicated to the counsel and representation of employees in matters of their employment, compensation and severance. Nothing expressed in this material constitutes legal advice. Please note that Mr. Sklover is admitted to practice in the State of New York, only. When assisting clients in other jurisdictions, he retains the assistance of local counsel and/or obtains permission of local Courts to appear. Results obtained by some clients have no bearing on results obtained by other clients. Copying, use and/or reproduction of this material in any form or media without prior written permission is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved. For further information, contact Sklover & Company, LLC, 45 Rockefeller Plaza, Suite 2000, New York, New York 10111 (212) 757-5000.

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