How to Build Career Skills on a Budget

by Sara Carter

You’re looking to advance your career, or maybe you want to explore a new field of interest. But looking at your budget, it’s not feasible for you to go back to school or invest a lot of money into expensive network events. So what are you going to do?

Make a change and head over to this free downloadable guide.

Well, believe it or not, there are a variety of budget-friendly methods for expanding your skillset. From seminars to online courses, there are tons of opportunities to add to your resume. Many of these options are free or at a low cost to you, which is great when you don’t have extra funds to spend. Tune in for more ideas on how to pad up your resume or increase your knowledge areas but on a budget!

Go to the Library

Harry Potter and Ron Weasley always relied on library frequent flyer Hermoine Granger for solving their problems. And there’s a key reason for that; libraries are an excellent source for knowledge and free resources. Not only are there books and magazines, but libraries also have extended learning programs and other resources. Stopping by your local library can be a good starting point for when you’re looking to expand your career skills.

Many libraries have subscriptions to platforms that can cost you hundreds of dollars. Librarians are knowledgeable on many topics, so they can point you in the right direction if you’re not sure where to explore. In addition, libraries often have books or materials that are necessary for specialized tests such as civil service or BAR exams.

If you’re not looking to leave your house, don’t worry, there are free resources for you to start using today. Look up articles, audio podcasts, or YouTube videos, and follow thought leaders in your industry or who you achieve to be on social media. And it’s not just individuals you should seek out, businesses also create great resources. Carve out time every day to flick through these mediums to sponge up knowledge. 

Look Online for Classes

Yes, it might’ve been a while since you’ve sat down in a classroom. However, don’t panic over the thought of going back to school. We’re not talking literal school, more like online classes available to professionals. These are courses tailored to the industry or area of interest that you are looking to learn about. Now while some sites offer free courses, others can charge a fee. Though it can be tempting to take all the classes available to you, try to narrow it down to a focus area rather than tackling everything that you can see. That’s a surefire way to get you overwhelmed and burned out. Some sites to check out include Coursera, Udemy, Skillshare, and LinkedIn Learning.

Start to Network

If you aren’t a member of a professional group or don’t have a network of individuals, now is the time to get to it. There are many professional organizations out there for you to join. Most groups have either a national or local chapter, and they have numerous resources from seminars to newsletters full of great information.

However, if you’re self-driven and want to connect one-on-one with people, start reaching out to other professionals on social pages or during events. It helps to know people throughout your industry and build connections with them. And it’s not just learning opportunities you need to think about, it helps to have connections or references when you’re searching and applying for a new job. 

Outside of traditional networking methods, look into volunteering your time. Nonprofit or other special organizations may not have a budget for the skills you are learning or can offer to them. That means these groups are flexible if you’re trying something new or it’s a chance for you to work in different environments. This work is not only a chance to test out the skillset you’re expanding on but also another opportunity to build connections with other industry players. You never know what other volunteers you might meet and who they may have connections to. Catchafire is an online website that can help match you with a nonprofit looking for your specific skills.

Get Outside of Routine

Salary Negotiation tool

It’s time to shake things up in your daily work routine. There are plenty of learning opportunities around your office. Shadow a co-worker. Sit in on a meeting for a different department. Have a coffee with a person in leadership to discuss what positions or areas of growth are available to you. Your colleagues are a wealth of information at your fingertips, so you can learn lots of different skills from them. And all of this is free to you!

Aside from other team members, you can challenge yourself to attend industry events. Going to an industry event allows you the chance to sit in on a variety of seminars or talks which are great learning opportunities. Depending on the type of event you visit, the list of events can range from panel discussions to one-on-one sessions and many other educational opportunities. A lot of events are going virtual, so you may not even need to leave your home in order to attend. And if you are unable to go on the day of the sessions, see if the organizers will provide you with post mortem notes or copies of the information presented.

Closing Thoughts

If the time has come to grow in your career and you’re looking for new learning opportunities, then utilizing any of the resources mentioned above will help you on your journey. Starting at a library or looking for online courses are things you can do on the weekend. Next, check out opportunities around your current workplace to absorb information from other colleagues. And finally, seek out events to attend either in person or virtually for educational purposes.

It can seem daunting at first to seek out learning opportunities by yourself. But it’s your chance to take the reins of your career. These skills will help you stand out from the crowd in your current or future position, and also showcase your personal drive to improve yourself.

Related Reads

Free or Cheap Ways to Develop or Grow Professionally

Free Downloadable Guide to Making a Career Change

Salary Negotiation

Online Courses to Grow Professionally



Sara Carter is a co-founder of Enlightened Digital. She enjoys spending her days writing about technology and business, writing code, or chasing her kids and dog.

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