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Jobs & Careers

6 free online courses with qualifications to boost your CV

Finding yourself with free time between classes and hoping to use it productively? We've found some free online courses that will broaden your skillset and really boost your CV.

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Credit: Unuchko Veronika, Africa Studio – Shutterstock

Trying your hand at some free online courses with qualifications is a brilliant way to keep your brain going during the holidays, or between graduation and landing that dream job everyone keeps talking about.

Distance learning can also introduce you to subjects that you've not had the chance to cover at uni. Plus, taking the initiative to learn something new in your free time is incredible CV material.

Even if the course doesn't directly relate to your career plans, just showing you're happy to commit a few hours to something extra-curricular with the aim of learning a new skill will look great on your CV and impress future employers.

All of the courses below are free to do and can be included as completed courses on your CV, but you'll need to pay to receive some certificates – we've highlighted how much you can expect to pay for each certificate.

What are the best free online courses?

Here are six of the best online courses that you can do for free:

  1. Inbound marketing course with free certification

    Jim Carrey Bruce Almighty typing fast

    Credit: Universal Pictures

    Course by: Hubspot Academy
    Duration: Around two hours
    Qualification: Hubspot Academy's own certification
    Cost of certificate: Free.

    Inbound marketing is something that every business is prioritising in at least some shape or form. As such, a course in inbound marketing is probably one of the best to complete to get a job shortly after graduation.

    Inbound marketing is when businesses use blogs, podcasts, social media and other off-site methods to direct people to their website.

    Essentially, it's about using innovative methods of getting more traffic onto their website in the hope they'll attract new customers.

    This free learn-from-home course is really straightforward, with a series of short video lectures and an exam at the end of the process. Also, you can use this course to brush up on your terms and terminology so you can succeed in interviews.

    Learn inbound marketing skills »


  2. Learn basic HTML from home

    Two people using HTML

    Credit: MIND AND I – Shutterstock

    Course by: Codecademy
    Duration: Ongoing
    Qualification: Codecademy's own certification
    Cost of certificate: Around £15/month for Pro access which allows you to get a certificate (eligible students get over 35% off).

    Learning code might sound super complicated but, in reality, it's more about knowing a fairly simple system (we're talking basic code here).

    Everyone from fashion bloggers to journalists and even eBay sellers are coding regularly these days. In fact, we had to work with HTML to write this article!

    So, it makes sense that you'd want to learn at least the basics of HTML coding before entering the job market. Luckily, free home study courses are available and you can start a course as soon as you find the time.

    Codecademy offers a free, easy-to-navigate online course that will help you grasp the basics. And, if you want to develop beyond the basics, there's an option to pay a subscription fee to learn more advanced coding and gain a higher-level qualification.

    As so much of the working world is transferring to the web, coding is one of the most valuable skills you can learn from home – and (dare we say) can even be quite fun. Give it a bash.

    If you're hoping for a certificate at the end of the course, you'll need to sign up for Codecademy Pro. But, check to see if you're at an eligible uni for the student membership – you could save more than 35% on the standard monthly price if so.

    Learn basic HTML »


  3. A crash-course on starting your own business

    dog using computer

    Credit: Kalamurzing - Shutterstock

    Course by: FutureLearn
    Duration: Two weeks (two hours per week)
    Qualification: Future Learn's own certification
    Cost of certificate: £27 (to upgrade the course and receive a certificate).

    This course is offered by the University of Leeds via FutureLearn, which is a really neat site owned and established by The Open University.

    Their 'Starting a Business' program is an online learning course aimed at preparing young people for the business world (it's technically considered an online taster course for prospective uni students, but is open to anyone).

    The course is two weeks long, and you're expected to spend two hours per week on them – it won't take up too much of your time.

    This free online course is pretty varied, giving a good introduction to business and entrepreneurship. The qualification you obtain could really help you stand out with future job applications.

    A business course certification will look great to any employer, regardless of industry, as it shows you've got an entrepreneurial mind and that you've taken the initiative to try and understand how businesses actually work.

    Learn how to start a business »


  4. A certified course on social media strategy

    Woman on laptop with social media likes and loves

    Credit: Flamingo Images, Pinone Pantone, Avector – Shutterstock

    Course by: Alison
    Duration: Two to three hours
    Qualification: Alison's own certification
    Cost of certificate: From around £18.

    Social media's now a crucial skill in business, so having a qualification in this will really help you stand out to potential employers.

    A certificate in social media strategy will look amazing on your CV. Your knowledge of social media as a young person is already invaluable to businesses, and something that many companies are desperate to tap into.

    You're in the unique position of being able to help businesses better understand younger markets (their future customers, if not their current ones), so use this to your advantage.

    And, this free course could also help you make some money as a professional social media stalker... if you so wish.

    Learn social media strategy »


  5. Customer service free qualification

    red phone with a blue background

    Credit: Comaniciu Dan – Shutterstock

    Course by: Vision2Learn
    Duration: Nine or 11 weeks (suggested study 10 hours per week)
    Qualification: Level 2 nationally accredited certification
    Cost of certificate: Free.

    You might think this course would only be useful to people in customer service positions but, in reality, great customer service is beneficial across the board.

    Take this free course to boost your CV and improve communication with colleagues as well as customers.

    By the time you've completed the course, you'll be equipped with lots of great transferrable skills.

    Having this qualification on your CV will show employers that you understand and respect communication etiquette in the workplace and that you're not likely to throw a strop in front of clients if you don't get your way. Here's hoping!

    Learn customer service skills »


  6. Analysing and visualising data with Excel

    excel on phone

    Credit: BigTunaOnline – Shutterstock

    Course by: University of British Columbia (via edX)
    Duration: Six weeks (four to six hours per week)
    Qualification: Professional certificate
    Cost of certificate: £106.

    While the verified certificate is pretty pricey, the course itself is free and would provide you with invaluable skills for work.

    Microsoft Excel is one of the most common pieces of software used by companies so, even if you think you know loads about it already, there's definitely no harm in learning more – especially when you have some free time at home.

    This course would give you an introduction to Excel and cover data wrangling, spreadsheet management and basic data analysis – and the fact that it's led by a university would definitely help it stand out on your CV.

    Having this qualification will likely get potential employers very interested. Plus, arming yourself with some basic Excel knowledge will make the first day of your graduate job much easier and a lot less sweaty.

    Learn to use Excel effectively »


If none of these take your fancy, check out our guide to MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) to find the one for you.


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