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Expert Blog Series Part 3 – A Foot in the Door

By Rachel Varrilly Gierula – Career Coach

Everyone I have spoken to this year has had a different experience of learning. Life learning lessons figure highly for everyone; and formal learning for many has depended on their level of caring responsibility. Schools, Universities, and learning providers have pivoted to online tutoring models, and course sign-up has skyrocketed with session location no longer being a barrier to attendance.

Over the past year we’ve learnt that life, and how we spend it, is precious. The openness of conversations about positive mental health have surfaced our need as humans, to find meaning in what we do. And if you feel ‘stuck’ or ‘pigeonholed’ in your career that’s not great for your head. But so often the barrier to a new role is experience and knowledge. You know that you will be good at a job, but if you can’t ‘tick’ the role requirements, you’ve hit a blocker.

Careers are no longer just linear. Sideways moves, steps up and steps back, zig-zag careers, are the norm. A great potential employee may be someone who’s picked up transferable skills in an alternative sector. Smart employers are looking more deeply at applications and finding candidates with energy and enthusiasm for growth. You can teach someone how to do a job, but you cannot teach them how to be passionate about what they do.

If you want to take a step into a different sector or career, how do you get ready to make that move? How can you get some theoretical knowledge, and show an employer that you are serious about a role they’re offering when you may not be the most obvious candidate?

Learning, that’s how.

The amount of free online learning resources has never been greater. They vary in quality, but it is a great way to get a taster of learning content at no cost, or to get a skills refresher for free. You can use a variety of resources to create yourself a blended learning plan. For example….

I’m a massive fan of Professor Brene Brown, her research on behaviours is superb. I follow her on Social Media – an Instagram Live session and I’m there; I’ve watched her TED Talk on Vulnerability many times; and her Netflix Special on Courage. That’s 3 free resources (I already have a Netflix account). To deepen my understanding of her work, I have signed up to Audible to access her books for a small monthly fee. I’ve had the taster, now I’m happy to pay for more. The free stuff, and now the Audible investment, has given me a new insight into themes which emerge regularly in the work that I do, and make me a better coach.

Podcasts and You Tube are another great source of content, and if you are looking for something a little more specific to align to a role profile, here are a few providers I’d recommend.

Udemy – have a breadth of topics and a range of free courses for you to choose from, including some access to LinkedIn learning which would normally be charged for, learn anything from how to grow grapes, to exploring Agile Methodology.

Harvard Business Review – Beautifully crafted articles from Thought Leaders. Sign up for free access to 4 articles per month.

Coursera – a similar offering to Udemy, but what stands out here is some of the free course providers are really heavy hitters in the learning world, including Yale and Stanford University.

General Assembly – perfect for online taster sessions for Digital learning, their specialisms are Coding, Data, Design and Digital Marketing.

Business Balls – an oldie but a goody. This has been my ‘go to’ site for training and leadership Models for years. It covers all things behavioural – even dating advice!

So, if you’re looking at that job and know you can do it, but there’s a knowledge gap in the person specification, take a step back and search for relevant learning. If you can demonstrate well researched theoretical knowledge, and an aptitude for getting practical experience, this may just get you through the door.

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