The Best Free Career Development Resources

You do not have to spend a fortune to advance your career. In fact, abundant free resources exist both online and off to help in your career development.

You can find free career development resources online,at local colleges and universities and through various corporations and small businesses.

Free online resources include:

  • Tutorials.
  • Blogs.
  • RSS feeds.
  • Forums.

Free offline resources include:

  • Books and magazines from the public library.
  • Workshops.
  • Seminars.
  • Panel discussions.
  • Lectures.

Additionally, some schools may let you attend certain classes for free. You can also find a variety of career development opportunities through joining, participating and volunteering in industry or job-related organizations, such as career centers and job fairs.

In addition to all the career development resources provided for free, you can often convince an employer to cover the costs of paid career development resources, whether a conference, course or book. Sometimes, the provider of a paid resource may be willing to provide you the resource for free in exchange for volunteer or trade services. For example, you could trade your skills for a piece of software or private consultation, or you could volunteer to help an instructor with classroom setup and breakdown in exchange for taking the workshop for free. The trick to making the best use of all the free career development resources at your disposal is picking the right ones to achieving your career goals and advancing.

Personal Branding

Many free career development resources offer to help you with your personal branding. This is how you present yourself to employers and others in the workplace environment, including but not limited to your resume and portfolio, social media presence and overall professional presence. Learning how to represent yourself accurately and impressively in the workforce can help you land more clients, jobs, promotions, raises, bonuses and other workplace accolades. Free career development resources for personal branding include work-oriented social media sites like LinkedIn and professional clubs and organizations.

Communications Development

How you communicate with other people, whether spoken, written or nonverbally, plays a significant role in how far you get in the workplace. According to a 2014 study, 56 percent of 2,100 hiring managers said they wanted to find candidates with effective communication skills. Therefore, identify the aspects of communication where you need the most work and pursue ways to improve them, for example:

  • If you do not speak well in front of other people, take a public speaking course.
  • If you work involves giving presentations, take a workshop on effective presenting.
  • If you write poorly, take a basic writing class to improve your writing skills for work.
  • If you get riled up in conversations too easily, you may benefit from taking an anger management, meditation or mediation course.
  • If your work involves communicating through multiple methods with corporate clients, study corporate communications.

Software and Technology

Many makers of various technologies and software platforms offer free training resources to encourage workers to use them and address the increasing dependence on them in the workplace. For the same reason, you can also find many places online and off to learn computer programming languages for free, as the developers only want their codes to be utilized workplace’s daily activities. Learning cybersecurity could be valuable for working at any firm that utilizes technology, while any business with a web presence could benefit from employees knowing Google Analytics.


According to a 2015 survey, 60 percent of over 7,800 millennials worldwide said they desired to achieve a role in senior leadership with their present employer. Taking any free opportunity to develop your leadership skills will make you more marketable as management material to employers. Besides reading books and taking courses to develop these skills, you can also volunteer to spearhead projects at work. Volunteering in the community gives you other opportunities to practice your leadership abilities. For example, you can work with youth or coach a sports team.

Analytical Skills

Analytical skills are in high demand in many workplace environments. As such, you can often find many free courses available in analytical thinking sponsored by businesses and business organizations looking to improve the skills of their pool of workers and candidates. Subjects you may study to develop your analytical thinking skills for the workplace include big data, business statistics, business strategy, analytics, probability, corporate finance and effective decision-making and problem-solving.

Personal Assessments

Whatever industry or field you are in, you can gain insight into your strengths and weaknesses in certain areas that impact your workplace experience and performance through a myriad of personal assessments. You can find a seemingly endless array of online assessments evaluating your personality and preferences according to a host of different systems. Some assessments aim to help you prioritize your values. Others aim to help you identify the most promising career path given your assets and resources. Among the most ubiquitous of these personal assessment tools is the Holland Code of Occupational Themes or RIASEC, the Motivational, Appraisal or Personal Potential (MAPP) Test, and the Keirsey Temperament Sorter.

National Career Development Association

The National Career Development Association offers an array of free tools for professional development, including the following:

  • Career practitioner supervision.
  • Leadership training.
  • Training programs and credentialing.
  • Webinars.
  • Conferences.
  • Jobs postings.

Among the free trainings NCDA offers are Facilitating Career Development Trainings to work in the field of helping others to find and develop their careers. You can become a Career Services Provider, Global Career Development Facilitator or one of at least five other types of certified professional development facilitators, educators, advisors and counselors. NCDA webinars cover a wide array of work development topics including working with special populations like veterans and the military, the LGBTQ community, college students or recent grads and people with disabilities. The NCDA also provides a listing of free online career development resources in the areas of:

  • Self-assessment.
  • Education.
  • Employment trends.
  • Special populations.
  • Specific occupations and industries.

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