Free online courses that’ll give you the edge at work

Sometimes, it might feel like employers are looking for the world: someone who’s hard-working, creative, good at problem-solving and talking to people – all in addition to the specialised skills that come along with whatever industry you’re working in. The soft skills that many employers look for aren’t ones that necessarily come along with a degree, and it can sometimes be hard to prove that you have them with a black-and-white resume.

That’s where online courses come in. The growth in online education has seen some esteemed names in education, like Harvard and Yale, joining in to let people have the benefit of a world-class education from the comfort of their own homes. While there are many degrees of varying sizes on offer for reasonable prices, if you’re looking to grow your skills with a short course, there are plenty on offer for no fees at all.

Some are free to join at any time, with your learning being entirely self-directed, while others have set start dates. In many cases, the course content may be free, but you can decide whether or not it’s worth shelling out the cash for a certificate at the end – to acknowledge the work you’ve done and the knowledge you’ve gathered.


Communication Skills- Perception and Nonverbal Communication

Exactly as it says on the tin: perception and nonverbal communication are both important parts of interpersonal interactions, and the way that those concepts interact form the basis of this course. Although the course itself is free to do and complete, at the end of the course, you can also pay for an Alison Certification to herald on your resume or LinkedIn – as long as you’ve achieved the required 80% or higher in course assignments.

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Yale’s Strategic Playbook for Becoming a Principled and Persuasive Negotiator

If you’ve ever wanted to attend the prestigious Yale University, here’s your chance to capture some of the world-class education they offer in their free Coursera course. They present a framework for negotiation and explore the circumstances surrounding negotiation, in both the workplace and life. As with many online courses, you’ll be able to read and view the course content for free, but getting a certificate of participation will require a fee. Additionally, some assignments might not be available for free users.

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Groups and teamwork

Frame your focus around groups with The Open University’s course on teamwork – the four offered readings explore the theories surrounding group communication and behaviour, for you to put into practice. It’s free to begin whenever you want, and a certificate of participation only requires signing up for free.

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Using creative problem-solving

This course comes from Taiwan’s National Chiao Tung University (NCTU), with Cambridge-educated Sirirat Lim, and tackles the concept of creativity in both theory and practice. In doing so, it introduces students to various methods for tackling creative problem-solving. However, the affordable price of $0 comes with a caveat – the free version includes any and all content on offer, but only for six weeks. To gain unlimited access, and a Certificate of Achievement ready to print any time, you’ll need to shell out $79.

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A mini course on Time Management

Just in case you haven’t got enough time to take a longer course on time management, this course will cover your needs well enough to start making a change in your working life. In just 41 minutes of video, Udemy’s time management course suits anyone ‘who wants to get more done every day than they have before’, with a selection of worksheets to accompany the lectures.

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Introduction to Time Management

If you want a longer time management course, Alison’s Time Management introductory course is perfect. It tackles the issue of cutting through daily distractions and organising your time to make the most of your day, which is something almost every professional struggles with – making the course a valuable use of your time. At the end, you can purchase certification, if you get the required marks.

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Innovation and Creativity Management

Online course provider edX focuses heavily on business-related courses, so one about innovation fits in perfectly. Taking students through an innovative product concept from beginning to end, it tackles the details of creative management and organisation. It has start dates in March and July, with future dates inevitably planned, and runs for six weeks. The course is free, but added certification will cost $149 USD.

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Creativity and Innovation

A quick six-hour affair that forms part of The Open University’s full course in Sustainable Creative Management, the Creativity and Innovation course helps students develop an understanding of the forces surrounding innovation, as well as a heap of creative strategies for formulating ideas. You can start the course without signing in, but getting a certificate of participation involves signing up for free.

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Creative Thinking: Techniques and Tools for Success

Creativity is a skill, but what most people don’t believe is that it can be taught. If you’re one of those people, let edX change your mind with their comprehensive Creative Thinking course. Equipping you with a ‘tool-box’ of creative thinking methods that’ll equip you to tackle any problem with insight and new perspective. Since it’s taught by the head of a department in London’s Imperial College, the $49 USD price for a certification could be worth paying for – however, you can still just access the content for free.

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Effective Decision Making: Dealing with Business Complexity

This five-week course may be targeted at engineers, but the analytical development it offers is a good skill for anyone in the professional world, regardless of what position they hold. On offer from Delft University of Technology, a Netherlands-based university that’s typically known as one of the best technology and engineering universities in the world, you’ll be reassured that your upskilling will be in good hands. An available – but not mandatory, as usual – certificate also goes for $125.

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