Ask the Experts

Online Certificates - The Good, the Bad, and the Freebies!

5 Min Read
Anna Debortoli   |   October 7, 2021

It's harder than ever to stand out in a market saturated with candidates, and often a solution we look to is upskilling. Whether it's a short course, a certificate or a YouTube tutorial, online learning is a fabulous way to tighten up your skills and stay busy. But wow, there's just so much choice out there! One quick Google search returns hundreds of results, and it's tough to know which ones are actually worth your time.

Fear not! At Weploy, we've researched what our clients look for in candidates and are here to give you the lowdown on how you can hone in on your skills.


Certification vs. Learning

So, why a certification? Can't I just learn this on YouTube? Well, you can learn pretty much anything you want from the internet, but if you're going to be 'legit, it might be worth getting a certificate. 

Certification comes from a third-party provider and signals competency to potential employers (if they prove to come from a trustworthy source, that is). Typically, this comes from an education provider, such as TAFE or universities. MOOC providers (Massive Open Online Courses) offer certifications at generally more competitive prices; however, these might not carry the same level of recognition as a more conventional institution. 

It's worth noting that not all courses from MOOC providers are less valuable or less recognised than those from traditional institutions. For example, Google worked with provider Coursera to develop many courses in high-demand areas recognised by 130 U.S companies, including heavy hitters such as Verizon, Deloitte, SAP, Walmart, and, of course, Google.

It is always best to research the relevance of the certification and how widely that certification is recognised by employers if your goal is to demonstrate work-ready skills rather than an ability to learn. 


The Paywall

Most of the trusted providers have one thing in common - they cost money. 

LinkedIn Learning keeps most of its content hidden behind a paywall and charges a monthly subscription fee after a free trial. Others like Coursera or Edx have paid subscriptions, and providers like Udemy charge per course and offer free classes (albeit potentially not at the same production level). 

It's crucial to assess costs and carefully read terms & conditions before signing up. Sometimes, courses from paid-subscription platforms will end up costing more the longer you take to complete, which may happen due to the lack of structure and external accountability that comes with the flexibility of many online courses.

Looking for something free? Coursera and Edx give students an option to audit some courses for free with several limitations (i.e. no support, no formal assessment and no certification upon completion). Alternatively, check if you have existing access to a platform via your local library/educational institution. For example, many Melburnians might be able to access LinkedIn Learning for free using their library cards.

Otherwise, if you're solely looking for certification or recognition of an existing skill or knowledge, consider taking a skills assessment on LinkedIn to receive a "verified skill" badge. You can show off the badge on your profile or ask a previous employer to write a letter of recommendation highlighting your skills and competencies.  


Committing to it

Even if you can access a course for free, keep in mind that it will still cost you time, which can be the biggest hurdle. Here are my top tips as someone who has both succeeded and failed to complete online courses: 

  1. Have a strong "why"Why have I enrolled in this course? Why specifically is it essential to have this knowledge, skill or certification? Why is this option better or more accessible than the alternatives? Your why is what will become the driving force for you to overcome obstacles in the course.
  2. Give yourself structure Most courses estimate the time they will take to complete and break down content into modules, so set yourself a rough schedule with a deadline and milestones. If you fall behind, no worries! Flexibility is an upside to these courses. Just make sure you reset your milestones and get back on track.  
  3. Find someone to hold you accountableI suggest finding someone who is also studying and scheduling time to work on your respective courses together, whether at home, at a cafe, or via video chat. Just make sure that they are also committed and that you are productive together! 
  4. It's ok to quitOkay - I know this is the literal opposite of "committing to it", but giving yourself space to reassess your "why" can save time and money. For example, you're doing the course to improve your employability and land a job halfway through. Now you are busy with work and don't have time to do the course, which is stressing you out. Quit. It's fine. Priorities and goals change, and it's always better to make decisions actively considering the pros and cons rather than let them drag on. 


Free Courses Recommended by Weploy 

So, where to start? That's entirely up to you and your goals. However, if you have been with Weploy for a while, you know our focus is on Customer Service, Sales and Administration. Therefore, listed below are a few suggestions based on the roles we offer and what our clients mostly look for in a candidate. 


Excel Skills for Business Specialization - Coursera (AUDIT ONLY) 

Solid Excel skills are something our clients are asking for more and more. Basic functions will only take you so far; learning to operate Excel confidently means adding a highly valuable skill to your CV. 

This Coursera specialisation by Macquarie University includes 4 courses at different skill levels from Beginner to Advanced, each of which includes OVER 20 hours of content! You will learn everything from navigating the Excel user interface, using formulas and functions to perform calculations, to how to analyse data and present the results in a user-friendly way. 


There are two options once you hit enrol for free on the site: 

  1. You can enrol by signing up for a 7-day free trial, after which you're charged approximately $65 a month

  2. Once scroll down further, you should be able to select the audit option to view the content for FREE (though you won't receive any certification upon completion). This option does not require credit card information, but you must sign up and log into Coursera. 

I recommend auditing the course first, even if you do want the certification. Then, again, make sure you weigh up the cost in terms of time and money before signing up.


Customer Service Specialist - LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn has designed several courses for skills relevant to in-demand jobs and is offering them for free until December 31, 2021. Even better - you can access these free courses without a LinkedIn account!

In this 5-hour course, you will:

  • Discover how to provide excellent customer service and make your customers feel heard 

  • Develop and sustain great relationships, even when customers get abusive or unruly 

  • Learn skills to listen to customer needs, build rapport with those you are helping, and turn challenging customers into true allies.

Sales Representative - LinkedIn Learning

Other in-demand skills courses are free until December 31, 2021. This extensive course covers core concepts and necessary sales skills, from negotiating and closing strategies to authentic selling. 

In this 8-hour course, you will:

  • Recognise that selling is a partnership

  • Develop your sales skills, people skills, and your ability to create emotional engagement and earn the trust of others

  • Learn how to become a trusted partner in the sales process

  • Identify negotiation and closing strategies that suit you

  • Develop and hone your interpersonal or soft skills.

See how Weploy works for yourself
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