The online certifications craze has taken over the world ever since COVID-19 has impacted about 91% of school and college students worldwide since the month of March 2020. This global lockdown period has been a major plus point in the growth of content consumption on many platforms such as Coursera, Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, Khan Academy etc.
LinkedIn learning for instance has witnessed 1.7 M hours of video consumption by its audience during April as opposed to around 500K hours during January. Khan Academy boasts of 42 million visits per month on its website making it one of the top websites in the world right now. While this is an exciting time for E-learning platforms in terms of their growth in user base and popularity of business models, there are a lot of options to choose from and that requires one to look past the noise and opt for those courses/certifications that work for them.
We believe one must choose a certification or course with a learning-relevance match of at least 80% for those courses/certifications to hold value in the long term in your career. Here are some general guidelines that one can follow while picking a course/certification:
- If you are a student, try to pursue those courses which you would otherwise not be studying at your school, college or university. Something that would add tangibly to what you are already learning at your institution. It would be optimal to go for a course about a specific functional skill set that would give you a thorough introduction into it and you can pick it up and apply it in your day to day work or potential job opportunity that you may be seeking. This will ensure that you utilize the basics that you learn from that course/certification and can advance into learning further through experience. This ensures a greater ROI of your time than learning something and not being able to apply it all.
- If you are a young professional who has just entered the corporate world and are finding it hard to decide what courses to do, then look for courses that directly correlate with your job profile or can enhance your work output in whatever domain you are working. Avoid opting for generalist courses bout management skills, uncertainty avoidance, change management or strategy. These skills cannot be learnt through an online course, they require practical industry experience and facing different work place scenarios to successfully acquire these skills.
- If you are someone who is a student but is still unsure about what career path to go for, we would say think, decide and activate.
- Think about what is a skill or topic that you could use irrespective of whatever field you choose, maybe something like MS-Excel? Research shows that MS Office proficiency is still one of the top 10 skills most sought after by recruiters and what better time than now to upskill yourself in it? If that does not work out for you, then you can always look at courses on global economics, supply chain management (this is the new buzz word of the COVID-19 era), data science etc.
- Once you have thought about what to do, Decide, these kind of courses/ certifications are not to make you a master in anything but to increase your knowledge base and introduce you to fields that will perhaps help you in understanding where your interest lies in the times ahead.
- Lastly, once you have thought and decided on what course you want to do, Activate. This is the part that will determine the success rate of your previous two steps. Once you begin a course, do it with dedication and devote some quality time towards it. Try to learn from the course material and do your own research parallelly regarding any questions that may come to your mind during the learning process.
With these tips we hope to have provided a useful guide to whoever is currently in the process of pursuing an online course/certification or is wondering where to begin. All that really matters is whether you are gaining any tangible benefit out of whatever you are learning and your ability to retain and apply what you learn during this phase.
Giving into fads and garnering CV-pointers might be what is the primary motivator behind so many youngsters switching to online learning platforms, but do remember that the recruiter who you will face ultimately will be a seasoned industry professional who has the ability to figure out what a candidate has truly imbibed from whatever skillset he or she has mentioned on their CV within the first couple of minutes. So, now is the time to be smart and invest in yourself and remember quality is always greater than quantity.