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6 free online courses with qualifications to boost your CV

Finding yourself with free time between classes and not much to do? We’ve found some free online courses which will broaden your skill set and look dynamite on your CV.

If you’ve got a bit of spare time on your hands, there are so many productive things you could be doing to fill those precious hours. After all, there are only so many Friends reruns you can watch in your PJs before the guilt starts creeping in.

Trying your hand at some free online courses is a brilliant way to keep your brain going during the holidays, or between graduation and landing that dream job that everyone keeps talking about.

These types of courses can also introduce you to subjects that you’ve maybe not had the chance to cover at uni. Plus, taking the initiative to learn something extra in your free time is solid gold CV material.

Even if the course doesn’t directly relate to your career plans, just showing you’re happy to commit a few hours to something extra-curricular will look great to future employers. It shows that you’re motivated, naturally inquisitive and eager to pick up new skills.

What are the best free online courses?

  1. Basic HTML

    Course by: Codecademy
    Duration: Ongoing
    Qualification: Codecademy’s own certification

    Many people recoil in horror at the idea of learning code, thinking it’s the reserve of computer geeks and hackers.

    In reality, coding is more about knowing a fairly simple system (we’re talking basic code here) and everyone from fashion bloggers to journalists and even eBay sellers are coding regularly these days. Heck, we even had to fiddle with HTML to write this article.

    Codecademy offers a free, easy-to-navigate course that will help you grasp the basics. And, if you want to develop beyond the basics, there’s an option to pay a subscription fee to learn more advanced coding.

    As so much of the working world is transferring to the web, coding is one of the most valuable skills you can learn at the moment – and (dare we say) can even be quite fun. Give it a bash.

    Learn basic HTML »

  1. Starting a business

    Course by: FutureLearn
    Duration: 2 weeks (2 hours per week)
    Qualification: Future Learn’s own certification

    This course is offered by the University of Leeds via FutureLearn, which is a really neat site owned and established by The Open University.

    Their ‘Starting a Business’ program is a six-part online learning course aimed at preparing young people for the business world (it’s technically considered a pre-undergraduate course, but is open to anyone).

    Each of the six blocks is two weeks long, and you’re expected to spend two hours per week on it. It won’t take up too much of your valuable time, and you can choose to do whichever blocks you’d like and leave out any that aren’t of interest (although you won’t get the certificate if you don’t complete all six).

    This type of course is so versatile. It’ll look great to any employer, regardless of industry, as it shows you’ve got an entrepreneurial mind and that you’ve taken the initiative to try and understand how businesses actually work.

    Learn how to start a business »

  1. Social media strategy

    Course by: Alison
    Duration: 2-3 hours
    Qualification: Diploma (must pay to obtain formal certification)

    Social media’s now a crucial skill in business, so having a diploma qualification in this will make you really stand out to potential employers.

    A certificate in social media strategy will look amazing on your CV. Your knowledge of social media as a young person is already invaluable to businesses, and something that many companies are desperate to tap into.

    You’re in the unique position of being able to help businesses better understand younger markets (their future customers, if not their current ones), so use this to your advantage.

    And, this course could also help you make some money as a professional social media stalker, if you so wish.

    Learn social media strategy »

  2. Analysing and Visualising data with Excel

    Course by: Microsoft (via edX)
    Duration: 6 weeks (2-4 hours per week)
    Qualification: Microsoft’s own certification

    This course is free to take but, annoyingly, Microsoft charges $99 USD (about £77!) for the graded exams and assignments, and a piece of paper to say you’ve passed. Not ideal.

    That being said, the free parts of this course would still be really useful. Excel is used in pretty much every workplace so, even if you think you know loads about it already, there’s definitely no harm in learning more.

    Excel is relatively straightforward once you’ve got the hang of it, but it can be tricky to start out with. Employers know how much of a time-consuming nightmare it can be to hire someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.

    Having this course on your CV will likely get potential employers very interested. Arming yourself with some basic Excel knowledge will make your first day in the workplace much easier and a lot less sweaty.

    Learn to use Excel effectively »

  1. Inbound marketing course

    Course by: Hubspot Academy
    Duration: Video 2.5 hours (plus two hours for the exam)
    Qualification: Hubspot Academy’s own certification

    Inbound marketing is something that every business will be prioritising in at least some shape or form.

    Inbound marketing is when businesses use blogs, podcasts, social media and other off-site methods to direct people to their website.

    Essentially, it’s about using new and innovative methods of getting new traffic onto their website in the hope they’ll attract new customers.

    This course is really straightforward, with a series of short video lectures and an exam at the end of the process. Also, you can use this course to brush up on your terms and terminology so you can succeed in interviews.

    Learn inbound marketing skills »

  2. Customer service

    Course by: Vision2Learn
    Duration: 9-11 weeks (suggested study 10 hours per week)
    Qualification: Level 2 nationally accredited certification

    You might think this course would only be useful to people in customer service positions but, in reality, great customer service is beneficial across the board.

    This course helps improve communication with colleagues as well as customers, and comes with the potential to gain lots of great transferrable skills.

    Having this little gem on your CV will show employers that you understand and respect communication etiquette in the workplace and that you’re not likely to throw a strop in front of clients if you don’t get your way. Here’s hoping!

    Learn customer service skills »

Once you’ve got the content of your CV covered, it’ll be time to think about its presentation.

Take a look at these unbelievable alternative CV examples (including a billboard CV…) for ideas on how to make your application memorable, to say the least.

If none of these take your fancy, check out our big fat guide to online courses to find the one for you.