Workplace Readiness Resources

Although required proficiency levels vary by job, most employers expect basic proficiency in MS Office Suite and/or Google Suite. Employers regularly use other work productivity tools too for file sharing, communication, and project management. Due to the many options available, it doesn’t make sense to master them all. Research your field to understand typical skills required and start by gaining basic proficiency in one file sharing, communication, and project management software.

Training resources are abundant, but they vary greatly in quality, format, and price.  How do you learn best and what type of learning environment do you need to stay focused and motivated?  Below is a curated list of software and cloud-based platforms used in today’s workplace as well as resources for learning how to use these tools.

MICROSOFT OFFICE SUITE - WORD, EXCEL, POWERPOINT, AND OUTLOOK
  • MS Office 365 Training Center offers free, basic online training for its entire product suite. Sharpen your proficiency and learn about changes to the latest software versions.
  • MS Word Core Skills Checklist identifies the skills required for beginner, intermediate, and advanced proficiency and will help you assess your proficiency in Word.
  • MS Excel Core Skills Checklist identifies the skills required for beginner, intermediate, and advanced proficiency and will help you assess your proficiency in Excel.
  • MS PowerPoint Core Skills Checklist identifies the skills required for beginner, intermediate, and advanced proficiency and will help you assess your proficiency in PowerPoint.
  • Basic Tasks in Outlook is a quick, basic introduction on how to use Outlook to organize your emails, calendars, contacts, tasks, and to-do lists, all in one place.
GOOGLE SUITE - DRIVE, GMAIL, DOCS, SHEETS, FORMS, HANGOUTS
  • Google Learning Center. Start here for free training in G-Suite, straight from the source.
  • Google Applied Digital Skills offers free videos for learning practical digital skills using Google’s platform. We recommend the 45 to 90-minute videos for adult learners that will prepare you for the G Suite Certification. Click here for a listing of lessons.
  • G-Suite Certification While this two hour exam ($75 fee) is not required, the exam guide is great for identifying topic areas for proficiency in each of Google’s G-Suite tools.
FILE SHARING TOOLS
  • Dropbox offers cloud storage, file synchronization, personal cloud, and client software. Create a basic DropBox account for free, or try a 30-day free trial of Dropbox for business.
  • Drive is Google’s cloud-based file sharing tool. Visit Google Learning Center to learn more.
  • OneDrive is Microsoft’s cloud-based file sharing tool. Visit the MS Office 365 Training Center to learn more.
  • iCloud is Apple’s cloud-based tool for storing and sharing photos, videos, documents, notes, contacts, and more. It is built into every Apple device.
COLLABORATION AND COMMUNICATION TOOLS
  • Slack is a cloud-based instant-messaging platform designed to replace email as a primary method of communication and sharing. Try Slack’s basic version for free.
  • GoToMeeting and WebEx are online meeting, desktop sharing, and video conferencing tools that enable users to meet virtually through audio, video, and text messages. GoToMeeting offers a 14-day free trial while WebEx has a free version for personal use with fewer features.
  • Skype and Zoom are desktop video conference calling software that operate in similar fashion. They allow a group of people to interact in real time through audio, video and text messages. Both offer a free, basic version and fee-based options that offer additional functionality.
  • Hangouts is Google’s communication tool. Visit the Google Learning Center to learn more.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE
  • Project management software provides businesses with a one-stop shop for all the things teams do together. Basic features include to-do lists, message boards, schedules, documents and file storage, and group chat. More advanced versions offer budgeting, job costing, and resource management tools. There are hundreds of products to choose from with varying degrees of sophistication and affordability. Some are free to individual users and small teams. Try one of these to start: Basecamp, Asana and Trello.
  • Capterra is a great resource for reviews of project management and other business software.
SKILLS TESTING AND ASSESSMENT
  • Total Testing is a skills testing service that caters to small businesses and individuals. You can purchase an individual test for $20, and there are 800+ tests to choose from. Start with their Microsoft Office Skills Tests. They cover beginner, intermediate, and advanced level questions. Here is a Sample Score Report that contains extremely useful information to help you identify exactly what you need to learn to be considered basic, intermediate or advanced in MS Office. Use this service to assess your skills and identify any areas of weakness. You can also use it to demonstrate proficiency to prospective employers.
ONLINE LEARNING PLATFORMS
  • LinkedIn Learning, formerly Lynda.com, contains an extensive library of inexpensive, well-rated on-line video tutorials to help you learn basic business software and more. They also offer curated certificate programs in MS Office Suite. Users pay a monthly fee of about $30 for unlimited access. The platform is free with a LinkedIn Premium membership. NOTE: You can access LinkedIn Learning for FREE for 30 days. All public libraries in the DC and Boston metro areas offer free access to LinkedIn Learning. Check your local library for perks in your area.
  • Udemy is a global learning platform for both basic workplace readiness and more technical classes. Users pay a one-time fee for any course, with no time limit for completing. Udemy may be cheaper if you take courses at a slower rate or in smaller quantities. Some classes are free, and most workplace readiness courses cost no more than $20.
  • YouTube Video Tutorials are free of charge with a wide-selection, from basic MS Office to specialized technologies. Start by choosing a tutorial with the largest number of views.
  • GCF LearnFree offers free, basic technology and other tutorials for those that are not tech savvy, including how to use a smart phone, web browsers, and social media. This is a good place to start for out-of-practice re-entry professionals.
ONSITE TRAINING
  • Microsoft Stores offers free workshops, help desks, and events for adult learners in MS Office Suite tools. See your local store calendar for a full listing.
  • Public Libraries offer free work readiness and basic technology training on-site. Some offer one-on-one computer training or tech help by appointment. Inquire about offers at your local library. All public libraries in the DC and Boston metro areas offer free access to LinkedIn Learning.
  • Local Workforce Development or Employment Centers are another resource that offer free or low-cost workplace readiness training on-site.
  • Public School and Local Community Adult Learning Programs offer work readiness and basic technology training in a traditional classroom setting for a reasonable fee.
  • Community Colleges, particularly those with workforce development programs, are another good option. Most community colleges in the DC and Boston metro areas offer continuing education and certification programs for in-demand skills needed by local employers.
  • Nonprofits also offer on-site training. These programs are often targeted to specific groups, i.e. Veterans, professionals with disabilities, etc. and may have income or other eligibility requirements. These programs are worth checking out if you think you may qualify.
  • Private Training Companies offer both online and offline learning. This training can be expensive, but it also allows for the most customization in terms of course selection, times, locations, course pacing, and learning method (online, instructor-led, interactive classroom experiences, remote instructor with on-site learning, etc.)