10 Ideas for Getting Free Professional Development

Professional development, keep learning

Whether you want to excel at work, prepare for a career transition, keep your mind sharp, or simply satisfy your curiosity, you’ll need to learn new skills to reach your goals. Learning new skills can open a range of possibilities by making you adaptable, current, and relevant. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to acquire new skills. Here are 10 ways to get free professional development.

10 Ideas for Getting Free Professional Development

  1. Take free online courses. They’re out there! Check out the big MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) websites. These popular professional development sites offer hundreds of free courses on a wide variety of subjects. Some of the best-known and most popular MOOC platforms are Coursera, edX, Udemy, FutureLearn, and Alison. Just a note—while these sites offer many free courses, they also have subscription plans that provide enhanced features or unlimited access. Career Professionals of Canada offers a very popular (and free!) short course, “Start a Career Practice.”
  2. Conduct informational interviews. Tap into your network and the networks of your contacts to set up informational interviews and learn from experts in fields that interest you. No matter how busy they are, most people love to talk about subjects they’re passionate about.
  3. Attend networking events. In-person networking is starting to ramp up again, but there are still plenty of opportunities to network remotely such as through CPC’s tele-networking and Welcome Wagon events.
  4. Join Special Interest Groups (SIGs). LinkedIn groups are an easily-accessible and great way to learn. CPC’s Ambassador Team has set up SIGs for specific areas of interest such as advanced résumé writing.
  5. Read books. There are many wonderful books related to career development. You can buy them or borrow from a library. Most libraries offer online book lending these days, which can be a really convenient option.
  6. Listen to podcasts. And there are many to choose from! Here are 50 of the Best Professional Development Podcasts.
  7. Bookmark professional websites. Many websites offer free resources that will further your professional development objectives. If you’re a member of a professional association, be sure to explore and leverage the free learning opportunities that are offered through your membership.
  8. Watch YouTubes. A quick Google search will suggest many interesting YouTube videos made by respected industry experts. If you find some you really connect with, subscribe for regular updates. CareerKarma.com listed their picks for the Top 20 Career YouTube Channels 2020.
  9. Watch TED Talks. There are a multitude of TED Talks available on the topic of career development. CareerAddict.com offers up The 10 Best TED Talks to Inspire Your Career Development. Here are two TED Talks to get you started: JP Michel presents The Challenge Mindset: Helping Youth Find Purpose and Impact and Sarah Ellis and Helen Tupper present The Best Career Path Isn’t Always a Straight Line.
  10. Volunteer at a conference. If you’re interested in attending a conference related to your area(s) of interest but can’t afford the registration fee, sign up to volunteer at the event. It’s an opportunity to sit in on at least some of the presentations that will further your learning goals. You could also make a good case for attending and ask your boss to cover the cost. Occasionally you’ll come across conferences—for example, those sponsored by government programs—that are free.

Do you have more ideas for getting free professional development? If so, please share them in the comments.

Cathy Milton, after a long career in the telecommunications industry, embarked on the path to become a résumé writer. She has been a member of CPC for 10 years now, and has earned the MCRS, MCIS, MCCS, MCES, and MCWS designations. Cathy is a board member of CPC and the association’s Communications Manager. She is an avid sailor, a fairly decent cook, and active “pack member” in her pet menagerie.

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What a resourceful list you’ve put together for us, Cathy.

I didn’t realize there was a SIG (a new term for me) for Advanced Resume Writers of CPC. I joined immediately after reading your post. Thank you!

You shared the best, most-relevant content.

Thanks so much, Maureen! I am happy to know I’m not the only one for whom SIG was a new term. ? We’ll be writing more about them in the coming weeks.

There is a lot of value in these free professional development opportunities. I’ll add a couple more places where CDPs can pick up great information. CPC’s Facebook and LinkedIn Groups. And they are FREE

Thank you, Barb! Excellent additions. Who doesn’t love FREE stuff? And, you’re so right; our community of practice is full of experienced practitioners more than willing to share what they know.