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Can an online qualification give you an advantage in the job market?

Published: Tuesday 9th April 2019

In the past, online courses have had the tendency to be perceived as having less value, or credibility than ‘real’ qualifications, when it comes to getting a job. But, in recent years, as technology has evolved, things have changed. More people than ever are studying for an online qualification as digital learning tools make it easier and more efficient to pick up the skills required for an increasingly tech-dominated jobs marketplace, especially when it comes to specialist niches, such as digital marketing jobs.

Employers are beginning to realise at a time when more people are working flexibly, either remotely or at home, that online learning can be an invaluable resource both for staff development and acquiring new employees with key skills.

Job seeker on laptop gaining online qualification

Good for candidates….

Beyond that, the fact that a candidate has taken the initiative to begin studying for an online qualification in their own time, and at their own cost – demonstrates that they’re passionate about what they do and committed to success. For employers, that shows you’re self-disciplined, hard-working and dedicated.

Of course, there are big benefits for candidates too. If you have a job, or family commitments, e-learning can be the ideal solution. Even if you do have the time to study at a ‘bricks and mortar’ institution, there may not be a local establishment with the course you’re seeking. For certain specialist marketing jobs, for example, studying online gives you access to a wider variety of courses and qualifications.

There’s the added advantage that many online courses don’t have prerequisites such as foundation courses or entry exams. You can start at whatever level you’re comfortable with and if you don’t succeed at your first attempt, it’s easy to retake exams or even the entire course. In effect, online courses, such as those offered by the Open University, give the opportunity to learn at your own pace.

Job candidates waiting for an interview for recruitment

…good for employers

Employers are seeing the benefits of online courses too. Students naturally enhance their IT skills as they need to manage online tools and apps for studying, including online tutorials, video-calling and screen-sharing, as well as online storage and file management.

When it comes to interviewing, if you can show you’re actively studying towards a qualification that would help you succeed in the role, this could give you the edge if it comes to a tie-breaker between you and another candidate. On the flip side of the coin, you might be less likely to get the job if you’re studying at a ‘bricks and mortar’ educational institution, as it might interfere with your hours of work. That said, demonstrating that you’re studying towards a professional qualification for work such as accounting jobs might mean that the employer may make a contribution towards your costs or put you forward for a course with a professional institute requiring some on-site learning.

Woman researching the job market on her laptop

As e-learning technology evolves, online study is becoming easier to access and more powerful as a learning tool. Consequently, it is becoming more common for employers to recognise online qualifications. However, in order for your career to gain maximum benefit, always start by researching what courses are most recognised by employers in your chosen field.

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