Whether it’s through a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) or a paid, in-class certificate, nothing reinvigorates a decelerating career like a shiny new qualification. Studying towards making a shift in your career, or to advance your existing skill set, is a great way to gear up for the next step, signal to your boss that you’re ready for more, or boost your CV for a job swap.
Here are 11 top short courses – free and paid – that will help you with that career makeover:
1. Grow into management (Free!)
Whether you’re already managing people, or would like to in the future, you can deepen your understanding of getting the best out of your team, inspiring them to new heights, and the ins and outs of solid decision-making and evaluations with the free Management and Leadership: Growing as a Manager course, via the Open University (futurelearn.com).
Endorsed by the Chartered Management Institute, the four-week course runs in June and October, and will take about three hours a week to complete.
Read more: 8 ways to get promoted
2. Brush up on your business English
Even if English is your first language, the formal use of the language in a business environment can sometimes be confusing or intimidating. A solid grasp of the professional application of English can make a big impression – in your meetings, presentations, sales documents and even motivations.
Strip your professional communications of confusing jargon and learn how best to communicate effectively, with a short three-day, in-person course in Business Writing from the University of Pretoria, or try the online, seven-module Business Writing Toolkit from The SA Writers College. Find the latest course fees on the University of Pretoria and The SA Writers College’s websites.
3. Stellar customer service
If you are client-facing, or deal with ‘internal customers’ such as boards, teams and business units, you might consider a course in customer service, like the 10-week Customer Relationship Building course from the University of the Witwatersrand’s DigitalCampus.
The online course costs cover everything from the importance of relationships in a customer-centric organisation to managing customer complaints and measuring loyalty.
4. Super-size social media (Free!)
Understanding social networks – for work and personal – is no longer just a “nice to have” skill. Networking and social engagement is the new normal, and is increasingly finding its way into our workplaces across industries. So if you want to take your online know-how from ‘cyber-peeping on old school friends’ to ‘networking up a storm’, a course in social media marketing will give you the solid footing you need.
Alison.com offers a free Social Media Strategy for Small Businesses MOOC, which has four modules that you can do at your own pace, and, once you’ve achieved 80% or higher in all of your assessments, you will qualify for an optional digital (or physical if you’d prefer it) certificate of completion, at an extra cost.
If you want to get more serious, try an eight-week social media course from Red and Yellow, which is run in partnership with The University of Stellenbosch Business School. For the latest pricing information, visit redandyellow.co.za.
5. Wow the crowd
If public speaking and presenting isn’t your strong suit, you could be missing out on promoting yourself at work, by being less visible than your skills deserve. Get to grips with all aspects of public speaking and presenting with a 14-week Technical Presentation Skills certificate course from Wits Plus – which is part of the University of Witwatersrand.
Weekly lectures are in the evenings and the course runs twice a year; see wits.ac.za/part-time for the latest course information and fees.
6. Master financial management
Gaining solid financial skills will stand you in good stead, no matter what your job description is – and it’ll make things like year-end reporting and budgets a breeze. The Gordon Institute of Business (GIBS) runs a four-day, intensive, and in-person course, called Finance for Non-financial Managers.
It’s offered five times a year and it covers everything from the interpretation of financial statements and measuring performance and financial data, to cost allocation. It’s also affiliated with the University of Pretoria. Visit gibs.co.za for the latest course fees.
Read more: How to stand out when looking for a job
7. Excelling in Excel (Free!)
As one of the most ubiquitous business software applications, prowess in Excel is certainly in demand. Yet many of us aren’t fully confident using it – which is why Microsoft has free self-study training (see support.office.com, and click on training).
Here you can explore tutorials on formatting, creating and analyzing charts, collaboration with teams within Excel, and even creating advanced pivot tables. You’re sure to knock the socks off your boss at the next mid-term meeting.
8. Effortless touch typing
Another key computer-related skill in the contemporary workplace is typing. Although typing classes have dropped off the school syllabus, typing skills themselves remain much needed as more of our work goes paperless.
Stop wasting valuable time pecking your way around a keyboard, and become a touch-typing speed queen with a quick, cheap and cheerful course, like Typing Mastery: Learn to Type from MOOC provider udemy.com. The course fee also includes a certificate of completion.
9. Power through your day
Sometimes boosting productivity is just a matter of finding the right technique for planning and dividing your day into manageable ‘chunks’. When our plates are full, setting – and competing – priorities can be paralysing, so learning what trips you up and how to overcome that inertia should give you a new lease on your work life.
Try the two-hour online video class, Productivity and Time Management for the Overwhelmed on udemy.com. The course fee also includes a certificate. It’ll help you develop practical solutions that fit in with your work style and personality.
10. Get start-up savvy (Free!)
Is it your dream to own a business, but don’t know where to start? Udacity’s How to Build a Start-up is a great free option. The course covers effective marketplace research and feedback, so that you can develop and test business ideas customers really want and need. Plus, you’ll be allowed to set the pace of your learning, but it should take about a month to complete.
11. Mean project management
Make managing your projects, and your project teams, efficient and effective with the Project Management Foundations online short course, offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI) via the respected getsmarter.co.za portal (part of the University of Cape Town).
From the plan to pitch-perfect execution, you will be empowered to tackle projects big and small – and you’ll walk away with a PMI-approved certificate of completion. Visit the GetSmarter website for the latest course dates and fees.
Feature: Kate Ferreira