Free Online Courses to Master These 20 Hot Job Skills

Today’s employers can often be found complaining about a skills mismatch: there are plenty of candidates out there, but few of them actually have the skills they’re looking for.

With the right skill development, you can become the qualified candidate that’s just right for the job. Skills like persuasive writing, sales, and the ability to speak in public can really set you apart from the competition, and you don’t even need a new degree to develop them. Read on as we explore 20 of the most in-demand job skills employers are looking for today, and some of the free online courses you can use to get qualified with them.

Soft Skills

Career-specific skills are perfect for landing a job in a hot industry, but with the right soft skills, you can fit in anywhere. Leadership, the ability to work in teams, and effective communication are skills that can help you achieve no matter what field you’re in.


Qualified candidates are a dime a dozen these days. You can have a great resume and be perfect for the job, but so is the next guy! Want to stand out? Show off your great sense of humor. MIT’s literature course, Comedy, and Utah State University’s Understanding Theatre can help you get an edge.

Computer Literacy

Employers aren’t impressed by basic computer skills like Microsoft Word and Internet use. Everyone has those these days. Go beyond the basics and so that you’re truly technically proficient. Courses like MIT’s Introduction to Computer Science and Programming make it possible to take things to the next level.


Communication skills are essential for any position, whether you’re a rank-and-file employee or an executive. Employers want to know that you can effectively get your point across. With MIT’s Communication for Managers, you can polish communication strategies and methods for business and beyond.

Critical Thinking

Employees who can see the big picture and work toward finding solutions are the most valuable. Sharpening your problem-solving skills can make a major difference in your career. Check out the courses in UMass Boston’s Critical and Creative Thinking Department, to put your thinking cap on.

Social Media

Facebook can’t get you a job … or can it? Your skills in social media can prove to be highly valuable in the workplace, connecting your company to the world around it. Make your social media skills official by checking out the Virtual Communities/Social Media course from Berkeley.

Financial Literacy

It doesn’t matter what you’re working on, it’s all about the bottom line. Workers with a good understanding of finance and economics will have the best opportunities for jobs and advancement. You can improve your finance, accounting, and economic skills with courses like MIT’s Entrepreneurial Finance and Utah State University’s Introduction to Economics.


The ability to work with a variety of different people and beliefs is a requirement in all workplaces today, and employees who can demonstrate tolerance and a willingness to work with other people. Explore diversity in the University of Notre Dame’s Ethnic and Religious Diversity course to better understand diverse identities.

Interpersonal Skills

Whether you’re working with clients, coworkers, or subordinates, interpersonal skills are incredibly important to your success, ensuring that you’re polite and effective when dealing with other people. With The Open University’s The Importance of Interpersonal Skills, you can gain awareness of your interpersonal skills, and see how you might further develop them for working with others.

Project Management

Employers are looking for workers who can help deliver projects on time. There’s an incredible demand for qualified project managers who can take complex endeavors from concept to completion. With UC Irvine’s Introduction to Project Management, you can learn the basics of project management to take your career to the next level. Additionally, MIT’s Project Management course takes an up close look at notable infrastructure projects.


Sales has long been regarded as a sort of recession-proof job skill and career. Even when times are tough, companies need salespeople to move their product, whether sales is in the job title or not. Brush up your sales skills with MIT’s Entrepreneurial Marketing, identifying important marketing concepts and sales methods that anyone can put to work.

Business Intelligence

Organizations are catching on to the idea that with the right data and organization, they can implement better strategies and discover advantages. That’s why employees with business intelligence skills are in demand. They’re able to use knowledge to get ahead and make good decisions for the company. Courses like MIT Sloan School of Management’s Optimization Methods in Management Science are great for learning about the theories and application behind business intelligence and optimization.

Public Speaking

Public speaking skills can really take your career to the next level, making it possible for you to deliver excellent presentation, seminars, and higher level communication. Even if you’re on the reserved side, it’s possible to find confidence in public speaking, thanks to Clover Park Technical College’s Public Speaking Course, designed to teach students how to speak effectively and comfortably to audiences.

Persuasive Writing

Thirty one percent of executives report that they want new grads to have the ability to communicate clearly and persuasively through writing. That means emails, sales pitches, and client correspondence. Check out Utah State University’s Intermediate Writing: Research Writing in a Persuasive Mode course, designed to help build your skills in persuasive writing.

Teamwork and Collaboration

Rare is the worker that doesn’t have to interact with anyone at all. At some point, it’s likely that you’ll have to work as part of a team and collaborate on project with others. The Open University’s Groups and Teamwork course is designed to help bring quiet employees into the discussion. Check it out to see how you can improve your working relationship with fellow employees.


No matter what level of work you’re doing, leadership skills can take you further in your career, allowing you to become the leader of a group, perform well as a manager, and possibly even lead large groups of people or even an entire company. Improve your business leadership skills with MIT Sloan School of Management’s Dynamic Leadership course, highlighting the use of improvisation in business and leadership.

Career-Specific Skills

Looking to try out a new career? Try these courses on for size to see if you can turn a hot job skill into a career.

Web Application Development

The mobile web is hotter than ever, and those who can develop useful apps will be in high demand. Mobile apps are particularly in demand in healthcare, and companies are having a hard time finding applicants with good mobile development skills. Courses like Harvard’s Building Mobile Applications and Software Engineering for Web Applications can get you started.

Health Care Management

Health care is an industry where you can almost always find a job, and you don’t have to actually perform medical tasks to be in it. Squeamish workers with a mind for business can consider stepping up their management skills to take on a position in health care management. With opportunities in marketing, finance, HR, and more, the possibilities are endless. Get a look into this skill set with MIT’s Seminar on Health Care Systems Innovation.

Health Care Technology

In addition to health care management, health care technology is increasingly in demand as health systems become more high-tech and complex. Information management systems, data, and more make those with health care technology skills incredibly valuable. Check out MIT’s Information Technology in the Health Care System of the Future for more.


IT workers with networking skills are a hot commodity these days. They’ve been in demand for virtualization and cloud computing projects that have become very popular. Through courses like MIT’s Computer Networks, you’ll learn about network infrastructure and get an introduction to computer networking.


Engineers are almost always in high demand, and today’s job market is no exception. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 88% of employers can’t find enough employees with engineering skills. Get started in the field of engineering by checking out MIT courses including The Engineer of 2020 and Management in Engineering.


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