As someone who works in HR, you don’t have to be reminded of the importance of training in one’s career. It’s something you’re expected to advocate; something you know by heart. Learning and development (L&D), after all, are a crucial aspect of human resource management. If there’s someone who’s responsible for ensuring that employees have updated skill sets to stay and grow with the company, it’s you.

But now, let’s talk about YOUR own learning and career growth. What was the last HR, leadership, or management training that you took? When was the last time you brushed up on your skills and invested in your own career development?

Although there are many certificate and graduate degree programs out there, it’s hard to squeeze one into a busy schedule. Luckily, we live at a time when inexpensive and readily available learning channels exist. Thanks to technology and avid champions of education, massive open online courses (MOOCs) are now helping millions indulge in self-directed career development. “A lot of people who want to become better at their jobs are fending for themselves,” says Harvard Business Review. “It’s clear that MOOCs are playing an important role in individuals’ development.”

There are hundreds of MOOCs about HR, leadership, and management that you can enroll in. A lot of them don’t require much time to complete — at least when compared to graduate degrees — but are nonetheless of real quality, administered by industry leaders and professors from top-ranking universities abroad. The best thing is some of them are free of charge, which means that all you need is internet connection and a few hours to spare.

We’ve looked at various MOOCs and short-term online certificate programs that can help you ace your job and grow your career. Here are the best among the ones we found — the best in terms of value, speed of completion, and, of course, content.

Diploma in Modern Human Resource Management, Alison

Cost: Free

Duration: 10 to 15 hours

What you’ll learn: The program is a crash course on new principles and practices used by HR practitioners in recruitment, selection, training, and employee motivation. You’ll learn how to develop job descriptions and specifications as well as what concepts are involved in compensation planning and development. You’ll also be introduced to specific retention strategies that will not leave your company’s coffers empty.

Edit: In the updated version of the program, you’ll be taught the proper steps involved in terminating employment contract — from understanding how to carry out a termination interview to explaining to the employee what their next steps should be.

People Management, EdX

Cost: Free

Duration: 6 weeks, 4 hours per week

What you’ll learn: If you want to win your employees trust and become the sort of leader they’ll listen to, then this EdX course is for you. People Management was specifically designed for newly appointed managers, in the hopes that it would help them adapt to the demands of their leadership position. The course is also helpful for seasoned managers in that it will help them reflect upon their current management approaches and styles.

One interesting topic that this course covers is building peer networks in your company. It’s something that you should learn especially when a bulk of your tasks can be fulfilled only through collaboration — when, most of the time, you’re asked to influence people whom you have no authority over.

Sustainable Business – Managing Finances, Human Resources and Accountability, Alison

Cost: Free

Duration: 2 to 3 hours

What you’ll learn: Accountability is one of the main driving forces behind every successful business, and this course will show you how and why. You’ll also learn how you as an HR practitioner can help create a corporate culture that fosters sustainability. Extra takeaways include the relationship of finance and operations, financial incentives to running a sustainable business, and socially responsible undertakings that your business can invest in.

Supervising Difficult Behaviors, Latitude U

Cost: Free

Duration: 1.5 hours

What you’ll learn: This short but practical course will show you why there are difficult employees and how you could deal with them as their supervisor or manager. It’s filled with practice situations and interactive features that will help you stay actively engaged as a learner. If you’re looking for a course that you can easily finish within the day, look no further!

World-Class HR: 21st Century Talent Management

Cost: $19.99 (Around PHP 1,000)

Duration: 2 hours

What you’ll learn: This course’s description perfectly captures why companies should value their HR teams: “Human Resources isn’t just a department in your business — it is the heart and soul of your business!” Aside from teaching you how to optimize your talent acquisition process and how to engage employees, World-Class HR: 21st Century Talent Management also tackles global leadership and big data and HR analytics. You want to rise above old-school HR management theories and practices? This course will give you the lowdown.

Inspirational Leadership: Leading with Sense, Coursera (Specialization)

Cost: $79 a month (around PHP 4,101.76) after a 7-day free trial

Duration: Approximately 4 hours a week (per course)

What you’ll learn: In the learning channel Coursera, a specialization refers to a learning program that consists of more than one course. You’ll get a certificate for completing each course, and another for finishing the entire specialization. Inspirational Leadership is made up of four courses: (1) Building Your Leadership Skills, (2) Giving Sense to Your Leadership Experience, (3) Leading Organizations, and (4) Your Leadership Challenge, a mini project where you can apply everything you’ve learned from the specialization.

Continuing with this specialization after the free trial expires costs quite a fortune, but it’s not hard to see why: It teaches the Savoir-Relier protocol, an approach to leadership that’s based on more than two decades of research and practice. The method is known to have been adopted by big companies like Apple and L’Oréal. As a manager, you’ll learn to stimulate creative initiatives and overcome difficult situations with resilience.

Leadership Skills in Business, Alison

Cost: Free

Duration: 2 to 3 hours

What you’ll learn: This course course equips you with leadership essentials: how to organize your company, how to build and manage your dream team, and how you should behave as a business professional. It also covers a bit of corporate responsibility and business ethics. Looking for a short but thorough crash course on corporate leadership? You’re looking at one.

Human Resource Management: HR for People Managers, Coursera (Specialization)

Cost: $49 a month (around PHP 2,500) after a 7-day free trial

Duration: 4 to 5 hours a week (per course)

What you’ll learn: This 5-course program is taught by professors and experts from The Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota. In case you’re wondering, yes, the school’s name will appear in each course’s certificate as well as in that of the entire specialization. Human Resource Management encompasses pretty much all areas of HR: recruiting, hiring, performance management, even employee onboarding and compensation management. All the practices and tips you’ll get from this course are informed by hardcore research. Talk about learning the best HR hacks from some of the best minds in the academe!

However short and affordable, each of these programs will surely make you a better HR professional and people manager. Remember: It’s always a good time to walk your talk about the importance of learning!

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