Are Online Courses Worth Adding to Your Arsenal as a Woman Returning to the Workforce?

Will a certification help compensate for a career hiatus? Is it something to highlight during a job interview? Do MOOC's (Massive Online Open Courses) offer any tangible benefit to my job search? These are just some of the questions we frequently hear during our weekly PowerHour for Women Back to Work.

Most people recognize Coursera, UDemy, Udacity, and Lynda as providers of online certificates and nanodegrees. Back in 2011, most of these sites were completely free, but as interest grew and individuals began opting away from on-campus learning to online learning, the model began to change. Coursera now uses a monthly subscription model, Udacity offers paid micro-credentials known as nanodegrees, and edX provides paid courses for career advancement or professional education. These, along with most other online sources, provide a learn-at-your-own-pace experience. And while they are now paid, they cost much less than traditional degrees and certifications while providing a great learning experience. Today, over 700 universities world-wide have partnered with online learning providers to offer fully-online Masters degrees. 

As a returnee to the workforce, online courses can be a good way to keep yourself abreast of changing technology. In addition, courses that offer certificates upon completion are now recognized by industry leaders such as Walmart, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, IBM, Adobe, and more. Google actually offers their own online courses that can give you a leg-up if you plan to apply there.  

When added to your resume or LinkedIn profile, these certificates demonstrate that you have built on your skillset and capabilities while on hiatus. Relevant coursework on your resume also helps you stand out during an interview, and is often a conversation starter. Employers are interested in learning what drives candidates to pursue an online education; and this can highlight discipline, willingness to learn, and intellectual curiosity in a potential employee. While it may never completely compensate for a career gap, an online certification  increases the value you bring to any role you might apply for. 

(Read our complete Job Search Guide for Women Returning to the Workforce)

Are you a woman looking to return to the workforce? We can help. 

With so much to choose from, where do you start? 

Here are some of the popular courses that you should consider adding to your repertoire: 

Data Visualization: Part of the data mining specialization, the Data Visualization course offered through Coursera provides a foundation in elementary graphics programming, basic visualization, and human perception and cognition. Big data skills are in high demand by employers. 

Machine Learning A-Z, Hands-On Python and R in Data Science: This course will help you master Machine Learning on Python and R, learn advanced techniques like Dimensionality Reduction, and specific topics like Deep Learning and Reinforcement Learning. 

Python for Everyone Specialization, University of Michigan/Coursera: If you have no background in Python, this course is for you. This Specialization will teach you basics of one of the most in-demand programming languages, utilizing core programming tools such as functions and loops, and utilization of variables to store, retrieve and calculate information. 

Google Analytics Academy: Google's Online Learning Center gives you a thorough understanding of their measurement tools in order to help you grow your business through intelligent data collection and analysis.  

The Web Developer Bootcamp: Udemy offers this comprehensive course to learners who are completely new to web development. Expect to learn CSS, HTML, JS, Node, and employ them to create full-stack web applications from scratch. 

These are just a few of the many online resources available at your fingertips. And while it may seem daunting, certifications from online courses are viewed as a big plus by most employers when they are directly applicable to a position.  

Happy learning!