How do you write a cover letter? What should be on your résumé? Which interview questions will help you stand out? Get answers to all these and more by taking an online class dedicated to job seekers. The list below outlines which are the best.
Is your job search as desperate as your dating life? We feel that.
As of January 2020, 3.6% of Americans were unemployed, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. By April, the rate escalated to 14.7%, presumably because of COVID-19-related layoffs, and has hit 11% as of this writing.
These numbers obviously fluctuate all the time, but one thing remains the same: People will always be looking for jobs. And with all the competition out there, you should probably work on your résumé — and a few other things — to score the position.
When you’re looking for a new job, there are certain skills you’ll need just to get noticed. We recommend taking an online course to walk you through the specifics, but here are some pointers to get started.
Tips on finding a job
Get serious about LinkedIn. If you’re hitting that “Easy Apply” button on LinkedIn, your profile better look pristine. Convenience means there’s probably a larger applicant pool. So get a real headshot and spend more time on LinkedIn than Instagram.
Polish your résumé. It has to be precise yet show extensive expertise in your field. To hit that perfect balance, you better research what you should include. You also have to make sure your résumé impresses the computers that scan it for keywords. (Because a human doesn’t always review your résumé if it doesn’t pass software called an Applicant Tracking System.) Above all, make sure it’s free of any typos. We recommend having a friend proofread it for you.
Write a new cover letter for every job. Ah yes, everyone’s most-hated task. It’s hard to curate a tone of excitement while avoiding pesky words like “passionate.” You should write lots of cover letters, catering each to the job position. And as with your résumé, that copy better be squeaky clean.
Consider building an online portfolio. Once you have the basic documents, you can amp up your hireability with a portfolio. The best portfolios are presented online, preferably under a personal domain. There are an overwhelming amount of options, and a portfolio varies widely by field. Make sure you have a course or mentor to oversee the project.
Learn how to interview well. When you get an interview request, make sure you’re prepared. It takes a lot of confidence and knowledge to impress during the interview. You want to sound cool and friendly yet intelligent. Prepare thoughtful questions beforehand and make sure to take notes — an engaged candidate will always stand out.
Each step in the hiring process can leave you unsure. Did you do enough? Should you add another skill? We hope you find a job that you love — and pays the rent/mortgage. Here are our favorite online resources to help:
Highly qualified instructor • Convenient • Comprehensive
An impressive course to knock out every piece of the search.
The course is taught by Jim Pautz, the vice president of coaching at Fullbridge; he previously worked as a senior admissions officer for Harvard. He knows what stands out. The course starts slow, with an introduction to get you thinking about everything. Then, you’ll focus on résumés and cover letters in the next lesson. He’ll help you strategize the number of résumés you have on hand and how to customize them for new opportunities. The second main lesson is networking, which can be painful for introverts. Pautz will help you do it right so you don’t feel like a stalker. Next, you’ll discuss the interview and how to secure the position.
Each section takes an hour or two to complete so you’ll probably get it done if you put in an hour a day for a week. It’ll be time well spent.
“Rock Your LinkedIn Profile” will answer your questions about the allusive app. The course is taught by Lauren Jolda, a program manager at LinkedIn. Because who better to teach about the platform than someone working for it? We definitely have a bit of a Dorothy Gale moment, seeing who’s behind the curtain. Jolda’s effective too because her peppy attitude works as a motivator.
If you’ve never used LinkedIn Learning though, you need to know it comes with a fee. It’s included with LinkedIn Premium and other paid accounts, and students at some universities can access it free. If you haven’t used your month free trial, you can try it out. Otherwise, it’s a $30 monthly subscription.
Informative • Easy to learn • Highly qualified instructor
Must pay to have direct contact with instructor
Get ready to secure an interview with these tips.
We picked this course because the instructor is actually qualified to boss you around. Some YouTube videos and other résumé lecturers don’t have the expertise to share their tips, yet they do anyway. Charles Duquette, the instructor for “Writing Winning Résumés and Cover Letters,” is the marketing coordinator for the English Institute at the University of Maryland. He teaches career development on Coursera and has accrued hundreds of five-star reviews, with boatloads of comments about his level of detail.
One specific piece of the course is writing for Applicant Tracking Systems. This software looks at your résumé and scans for keywords and phrases. It saves hiring committees time by ruling people out so they have less documents to skim through. The course teaches how to pass the computer and get your résumé to a human.
Not as detailed as a weeklong course
Try it out if you’re unsure if you have your cover letter right.
Did anyone ever teach you how to write a cover letter? Or have you always written the same bland letters with half-hearted assurances of your expertise? Writing a good cover letter is essential. It should have personality, an anecdote to show you’ll be a decent coworker, and specific examples of how your skills translate on the job.
Maybe there’s something you’re messing up in your letters without even realizing it. For $10, you can video chat with an advisor on Coursera. You share your screen and talk through webcams while your instructor guides you through each step of creating the documents and then leaves you with more resources. It’s called a “guided project,” and there’s plenty of others on Coursera for when you need a bit of help.
Impressive instructors • Helpful advice • Only lasts 1 hour
If your nerves get the better of you, take this course to gain some confidence.
There might be one piece of advice you hear over and over when it comes to interviews: “Make it conversational.” But an interview is more daunting than a normal conversation, so it’s hard to have natural, free-flowing speech. Interviews can put you back to middle school levels of social anxiety, so it’s worth practicing and getting your nerves out before you’re actually in that chair.
This Udemy course goes beyond the stereotypical advice you hear from your friends and WikiHow. The instructors are both really accomplished, for starters. One started his own business and the other is a big-time businessman. He’s worked for Fortune 500 companies (as the title tells you) and is a career coach at top schools. Plus, he has a TEDx talk. Their credentials push them beyond your typical Udemy course.
Everyone will be impressed • Can add “web design” to your résumé
Requires lots of time and a bit of money
If you’re not getting any bites, it’s time to go big.
This course will teach you how to buy a domain name and code a website, which sounds pretty daunting, but it’s not as bad as it sounds since the program doesn’t require any experience. Five courses comprise this specialization, so this is only for those with free time. If you don’t have the patience for HTML, just get a WordPress site or something.
Personal websites for business usually include a headshot, bio, and a portfolio of work. Writers will display favorite pieces they’ve written, but you can display awards or project renderings or whatever your career requires. This will set you apart and build a better personal brand, as conceited as the phrase “personal brand” sounds.