What comes first? Passion or competence? In his 2016 book So Good They Can’t Ignore You, Cal Newport, an academic at Georgetown University, makes the case that searching for your passion is less beneficial than developing marketable skills that can guide you towards your passion.
As a creative, you may already know where your passion lies, be it in writing, or graphic design, or something else entirely. However, in today’s competitive market, it’s more important than ever to broaden your skillset. To this end, we’ve compiled a list of four tools that will help you master new talents and submit a more convincing application.
A subsidiary of LinkedIn, Lynda provides “6,154 courses in Business, Technology and Creative Skills taught by industry experts”. The subjects range from colour correction and product design to data analysis and social media marketing. Importantly, Lynda allows you master specific programs. So if, for example, you can write, but wish to apply for a job that requires you to be familiar with InDesign, you can use Lynda to pick up the basic skills in no time and start developing them further.
It’s safe to say that the majority of Excel users are familiar with only a smattering of its basic features. Chandoo aims to correct this, and will help you master advanced functions, such as conditional formatting, formulas and functions, and add-ons like Solver (a decision analysis tool). While Chandoo’s presentation is basic—indeed, it is reminiscent of a late 90s fan page—its information is up to date and, better yet, free.
You’ve probably heard of Duolingo, the colourful mobile app (and website) that aims to help you achieve intermediate command of a target language by translating progressively challenging sentences. Of course, Duolingo is only one of the tools you can use to add a new language to your repertoire. Other popular options include Fluencia (for Spanish), Rosetta Stone, Fluenz, and Language Zen.
If you can’t code already, then there’s a good chance that you’re sick of being told that you should start. Coding is seen as an increasingly indispensable skill, with some primary schools even introducing it to young children in a bid to prepare them for (eventual entry) in a job market that relies more and more on software and online tools.
The good news is that learning to code doesn’t have to be a headache, regardless of your current skill level. Using CodeAcademy’s intuitive exercises, you can learn how to write programs in any of the major languages, from Python to Ruby on Rails. Importantly, the ability to code lays the foundation for several other useful, and highly sought after, skills, including app design, web development, and programming.