Most likely, you only have so much free time that you can dedicate to learning a new skill. Accordingly, it’s important to use that time wisely. Whether you’re looking to pivot your career or level up within your current field, analyzing the job description of your ideal position is a great way to identify what skills employers are looking for, as well as the tools you should know how to use.
Networking is another great way to discover what technical skills other people in your field have, or what software and apps they use on a day-to-day basis. This can be accomplished with a simple question, such as “Have you learned any new skills lately that have helped you in your job?,” or “What’s your favorite software or app that use regularly for work?”
In addition, you can also find much of this information online. If you are a customer service representative, for example, you might search for “customer service software.” Keep an eye out for the specific products that appear in your results. Capterra, a software review company, is another helpful resource for identifying common tools in your trade.
While this goes without saying, before you learn any specialized technical skills, at the very least you need a fundamental understanding of how to use a computer—ideally, both a Windows or Mac. There are many free resources online. Sites like Lifewire, for example, are very helpful in providing comprehensive tutorials.
These days, it’s pretty common to find free (or affordable) computer training events. Check with your local library, community center or community college to see what they have to offer. In addition, you can take free Mac courses at an Apple store near you.
If you’re working in an office role, consider getting certified in Microsoft Office to improve your skills and add value to your resume.
While this goes without saying, before you learn any specialized technical skills, at the very least you need a fundamental understanding of what a computer it is and how it works. In some cases, it can be helpful to learn how the Internet works, too.
Now, do you need master computer science? Absolutely not. But, having an elementary understanding of how the technology that you use functions provides a strong foundation for future learning.
There are many free resources available, both offline and online. Be sure to check out offerings in your community, such as at your local library, community center, community college or YMCA. You can also search on sites like Meetup or Eventbrite for educational events or groups. If you live in Los Angeles, New York City or Chicago, CourseHorse is another excellent resource.
If you’d rather learn tech skills for free online, there are plenty of ways to do so! You should be able to search on YouTube for pretty much anything you want to know.
If a job description requests familiarity with a specific tool, try to see if there’s way to get hands-on experience. For example, say a position requires that you know how to use Trello, a project management tool. You could consider ways you might be able to integrate Trello in your current position. If this is not possible, perhaps there’s a case where you could use it in your personal life—like for planning a trip.
Get as creative as possible. Need to learn how to use Google Calendar? Start using it to plan and schedule your families’ appointments and activities.