12 Free Resources to Find a Job, Start a Side Hustle or Change Careers
From support groups to mentors, these can help without costing a dime
The holidays can be a stressful – and expensive - time of year, especially if you want to find a job. So to help lighten the load, I’ve compiled this guide of 12 free resources. Enjoy – and here’s to your career success in 2019!
Resources for Job Seekers
Here are four resources that provide free support to job seekers:
Alumni career offices It may have been decades since you last roamed campus, but most colleges offer lifelong career support to alumni. Their services can include individual career coaching (both remote and in person) and exclusive access to online job postings, networking forums and professional development webinars.
Services aren’t always free, so check with your college for details.
Library career services Many libraries provide assistance to job seekers, including career coaching, workshops and free access to wifi (a branch of the New York City Public Library even offers patrons the opportunity to borrow work accessories like briefcases, ties and handbags for interviews).
While urban libraries typically offer the broadest range of services, even small libraries have resumé and job-search books you can borrow.
American Job Centers The U.S. Department of Labor funds nearly 2,400 American Job Centers nationwide that provide free in-person training, resources and postings for job seekers.
As an example, the Westchester-Putnam Career Center in New York currently has workshops in Microsoft Excel, Job Search Strategies and others.
Job-Search Clubs These groups provide a safe space where you can network, share leads and enjoy the support of fellow job seekers. Meetings of job-search groups can be found on Meetup.com, local bulletin boards and in the events section of your community newspaper.
You can also search for groups on CareerOneStop, the Department of Labor’s job services site.
If you can’t find a club that fits your needs, consider creating your own using the tips provided in this Next Avenue post.
Helpful Tools for Job Seekers
These three tools can help make your job search more successful:
The second edition of New Year, New Job! It’s a free 50-page downloadable e-book, with savvy advice from the experts at Job-Hunt.org on how to make the most of a job search over the holidays. That site has many other excellent free guides (and you don’t need to register to download them).
Customizable resumé templates A nicely designed resumé can make a real difference in your job search. Thanks to the customizable templates on sites like Canva.com, you can now easily create an eye-catching resumé. Most of the templates on Canva.com are free, but there’s a nominal charge for some designs.
One caveat: when choosing a design, remember to stick with the norms of your industry; a web designer’s resumé can be funkier than a banker’s.
Grammar-checking service A typo on your resumé or cover letter can doom your job search. According to an Accountemps survey, 63 percent of senior managers said just one or two errors would be enough to eliminate a candidate for consideration for a job.
Fortunately, the Grammarly.com app can help you avoid costly mistakes. Its free version does an impressive job of catching most basic spelling and grammar issues; there’s a paid premium version as well. But a computer can’t provide the same detailed results as a human proofreader, so always double-check your work before hitting Send.
Resources for Entrepreneurs
Here are two great resources if you want to start a small side business, a.k.a. a side hustle:
The SideHustleSchool.com podcast Chris Guillebeau, author of The $100 Startup and Born For This (two of my favorite career books), hosts it. If you’re interested in creating a side business, you’ll be amazed by how much you can learn in less than 10 minutes a day. Without question, this is my favorite career-related podcast; I learn something new each week.
SCORE.org This is a nonprofit partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration that provides free coaching for entrepreneurs. Thanks to its network of 10,000 volunteer business experts, you can meet with one or several mentors via email, video chat or face-to-face in your local chapter. SCORE also hosts online webinars and in-person events that can help you start, manage and grow your side hustle.
Resources for Career Changers
Finally, if you’re considering making a career change…
The VIA Survey of Character Strengths It’s an online assessment offered through the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania that helps identify your unique strengths (an important talking point during interviews).
At 240 questions long, the assessment can take over an hour to complete. It’s free with site registration, though.
The LinkedIn Learning online class from Encore.org VP Marci Alboher If you’re interested in exploring a second act for the greater good, this is a great way to begin. Alboher, the author of the Encore Career Handbook, has put together an excellent series of short videos on LinkedIn where you’ll learn how to discover your interests, present yourself online and adapt to the multigenerational workplace.
And — shameless plug — I invite you to download my free workbook, 25 Questions to Help You Identify Your Ideal Second Act.