Finding a new job may require updating job skills. Here's how to do that inexpensively.

Updating Job Skills

by Christine Stephens


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Due to high unemployment, many people are finding their search for a new job to be a lengthy one. During the search time, technologies change, new software versions are released, and new laws governing your field are instituted. Using some of your job hunting time for updating job skills can give you a competitive edge in the job hunt.

With the price of college education increasing by 8% annually according to FinAid.com, what is a person who wishes to keep job skills current to do?

Reassuringly colleges and universities do offer many low-cost educational opportunities and additional resources available in many mid-size cities can offer you some options to refresh your employment skills without taking out student loans.

The following ideas for updating job skills are available to most city dwellers or those within a convenient drive:

  • For only a small fee, the local university's Small Business Development Office offers many classes on running your own business, learning tax preparation, marketing, human resources and bookkeeping.

  • The local junior college business department offers classes on the latest software for a reasonable fee. The one- and two-day class fees include the student software, book and practice files.

  • The Free College Class Day at the local junior college offers classes on starting your own business, marketing with social media, and learning new software.

  • Online book retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble offer many used college textbooks for less than $10 each, including shipping. Make sure you choose an edition that is not out-of-date.

  • There is much freeware and shareware available on sites, such as Download.com, that are tested to be free of spyware. Free software offerings include PDF makers, digital photos editors, programming compilers, newspaper layout software, word processors, spreadsheets makers and database managers.

  • Your local United Way office offers a large library of volunteer positions. Local nonprofits are happy to help you sharpen your professional skills for free. This has many perks including networking, use of computers and equipment, feedback and time to work on your skills.

  • Join a related professional organization as a student.

  • Find a mentor. Your local Service Core of Retired Executives, Small Business Administration and Chamber of Commerce can make some suggestions.

  • Your state's Vocational Rehabilitation Department can assist some with obtaining help paying for college and career coaching to help you find a new job.

  • Make a note of what other people in your field are reading. What blogs are of interest? What books are mentioned? What journals are preferred? Make use of your local public library and even purchase a membership to your local university library to get up-to-date information on what is going on in your field.

  • Many unemployment offices and libraries offer free computer classes to refresh your skills. Never leave either place without glancing over the bulletin board as you could miss some very good employment, retraining, inexpensive entertainment, or social services flyers.

  • Check the bulletin boards in the student unions of your local college. You will be surprised at the number of free or reasonably priced supplemental learning opportunities and entry level jobs, which are available to those who choose to glance over the bulletin boards.

  • Older software can be found at much lower prices through eBay. As long as the software is still in the shrink-wrapped box, there should be no problems with buying it through this source.

  • Most software companies offer 30-day trials of their software for free by downloading it from the company website. Get the tutorial book, preferably with practice files on CD, from the library to learn new software or update your skills on the newest version.

By browsing the help wanted ads, one can find a huge amount of information on what skills are currently in demand. This is a good place to start as well as reading blogs that are centering on a specific field.

As so many low-cost career and skill development options exist in most communities, some of your job search time could be better spent updating job skills to create a resume populated with skills that are in high demand. Doing so doesn't have to set one back a lot of money or require taking out another college loan.


Christine Stephens is a single, frugal woman living in the Midwest. She graduated from the Elliott School of Communications with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Print Journalism.

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