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If you are looking for a job, it's important to have access to good resources to help you create a great resume and present yourself as a top candidate. It's also important to save as much money as possible during the job search. Fortunately, free assistance is available. Here's a list of seven no-charge online and local resources for job seekers.
1. Free courses from top universities
Many top tier colleges offer informative, career-related online lectures to the public for free. They often come with course material and quizzes students can take. The information you learn as someone who takes the course could make you a more attractive prospect to hiring managers and recruiters.
To find courses in your career specialty, visit the OpenCourseWare Consortium, which lists classes that are available from several colleges throughout the world. Another resource for free college-level material is AcademicEarth.org. It provides access to videos of professional lectures at top universities such as Harvard, Yale and Princeton.
Here's a sampling of some of the free lectures offered online.
These university level courses are free, but they're ungraded, non-accredited and don't count towards a degree. If your long term career goals require you to go back to school and get a degree, there are many programs out there to help you pay for college. Our article, Student Financial Aid 101, can help you get started.
2. One-stop community centers
Many cities and counties have workforce development centers that help local residents increase their job search skills, improve their resumes and explore job databases.
These offices are often called "one-stop" centers, because their goal is to provide the necessary resources for local job hunters in one central location. To find such an organization near you, search the Internet or local phone book for "one-stop" or "workforce development" centers in your county.
Don't overlook your local library as a resource. Many have special sections that are created specifically for job seekers. These rooms are often stocked with resume preparation books, computers with Internet access, and local help-wanted listings.
4. Trade association websites
As a job candidate, it will be important for you to discuss trends in your industry. Identify relevant trade associations and visit their websites to learn what's new in your field.
For example, the American Nurses Association (ANA) is a large trade organization for nursing professionals. Its website, NursingWorld.org, has links to several articles on recent healthcare issues. Many of these stories can be accessed by the general public for free.
In addition to articles, association websites are likely to have job bank sections that list employment opportunities across the country. Check these listings regularly, because they may not appear in your local paper.
If you're not sure which associations exist for your career field, visit your local library and ask for help locating a directory that lists different associations by industry.
Associations enable job candidates to network, which is an important strategy for finding a job. For more information on low-cost ways to network, read our article on 10 Strategies for Today's Job Seekers.
5. Online Microsoft Office classes
The Microsoft Office suite, which includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint programs, is a widely used package of office software products. Chances are job candidates (especially those who are seeking administrative positions) need to be proficient in using at least some of these software programs in order to meet a job's requirements.
Increase your office suite skills by taking a course on the products. Microsoft offers free online training for its programs through the Office training website. Even if you're familiar with Microsoft Word or Excel, it could be beneficial to take an online course or two in order to learn advanced features of the software.
6. Internet-based job search engines
Many popular Internet job search engines have special sections on their websites that offer career advice, provide resume samples, and give tips for cover letter creation. Some sites provide resume writing services for a fee, but in general, most of the information offered is free. All you have to do is invest time to study the information to write a great resume and cover letter.
Here are links to the career sections of popular job search engines:
When searching for a job on the Internet, don't forget about social media sites, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, to find potential job listings and career advice. For a detailed example of how to use social media to help you secure your next employer, read the CareOne Credit blog post on 5 Steps for Using Twitter to Find a Job.
7. Community colleges
If you need to improve basic skills in reading, writing and math, contact your local community college. Many offer tuition-free General Education Development (GED) diploma preparation classes, which cover school fundamentals. Though the courses are free, classes for the GED, also known as the high school equivalency diploma, are generally offered only to adults ages 18 or older.
In addition to GED classes, many local colleges offer free English as a Second Language (ESL) classes to help non-English speaking candidates increase their options in the marketplace.
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