Options to Improve Your Software Skills | Jobs In MD

Options to Improve Your Software Skills

By: Melissa Cardin

By Melissa Cardin

A reader asks, "I am unemployed at the present and notice that a lot of jobs that I'm interested in require knowledge of Microsoft Office, Word and/or Excel. I would be very interested in getting to know these subjects. Where is a good place to find them? Thanking you in advance."

Recently we discussed Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOC's, and the benefits they have on increasing your knowledge base and making you appealing to potential employers. But what if you are looking for skills that are a little more concrete, such as computer programming or the software skills you mention?

Available Options

If the need you have is for basic computer skills, such as Microsoft Office, email basics, or how to use social media, then GCFLearnFree.org is a free website that will fit your needs. With online, self-paced topics ranging from computer basics to how to use an ATM, and from Microsoft Office to how to complete a job application, even people who are scared of the internet can feel comfortable with this website's ease of use.

GCFLearnFree.org also offers instructor supported topics that are accredited through the International Association of Continuing Education and Technology. This allows those classes to offer continuing education credits (CEU's) to thousands of learners by allowing learners to demonstrate, in a measurable way, the knowledge they have gained.

Interested in a Different Topic? Ask Lynda

Lynda.com is another great online resource. Though much of it is only available through a reasonably-priced, paid subscription, you can get a free sample of the site by watching their introductory and basic tutorial videos for most topics. To get a deeper understanding of a topic or software, you must view the more advanced tutorials and the cost is anywhere from $25 per month (for unlimited tutorials) to an annual premium membership rate of $375 per year. With technology changing at a rapid pace, Lynda.com's main focus is to keep learners up to date on the technology that is available, and how to use it. Courses range from 3D animation to web design to CMS to even softer skills, such as job interviewing.

With over 2,000 courses available, and more added weekly, it is possible to learn how to retouch photos, design websites, record music and create spreadsheets. All courses are taught by experts in their industry. The videos can be watched on any digital media: Macs, PCs, tablets and smartphones.

What If You Don't Own a Computer?

That's okay! These courses are typically designed to be done in pieces. Use the computers in your community: at the library, your local career center/unemployment office or schools. Don't be afraid of the technology available to you. Learn to embrace it and, in turn, it will make you a more qualified employee.

Melissa Cardin is a program facilitator with Workplace Success through Southern New Hampshire Services, Inc., teaching work skills to program-eligible clients and helping them gain real work experience through formal volunteer assignments. She has spent several years working with families experiencing homelessness, helping them to meet goals that will help them achieve self-sufficiency.