Vocational Skills Training for Free – 5 Steps

by Neal Frankle, CFP ®

If you are looking for a new profession or vocation and don’t have the time or money to go back to school, you can still get the vocational skills training you need. What’s more, you can get a job and a profession while accumulating valuable experience and connections in your new career, even if you have no training at all.

Of course, if you’re planning on being a brain surgeon or 747 pilot, these ideas may not work. But in many areas, these ideas will help you succeed no matter what your target job is. Remember, it is possible to have a great job without a four-year degree.

Let’s get busy.

1. Decide

Obviously, the first step you need to take is to decide what you want to do. Look around and talk to lots of people. And consider opening your own business. Read as much as you can on the subject that interests you. Make sure you want to pursue this career for reasons other than money.

My experience tells me that if you do something only because you like the money you can make, you won’t put in the kind of effort required to really be successful. Life is too short to work just for money anyway. There is nothing wrong with making a living. But the only way I maintain my motivation to keep coming into the office is because I love what I do. If you don’t love anything about this new gig besides the money, find something else to do.

2. Interview

Now it’s time to start making connections, networking with people and learning about the new vocation. Do what you must in order to meet people doing the job you want to do or (better yet) who hire those people. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have any contacts. People, as a rule, love helping others, and they also love talking about those things they have expertise in. Contact people in the field and ask them if they’d let you buy them a cup of coffee or lunch to learn about their career.

During the meeting, ask them:

  • How did you get your start?
  • What are the most important critical success factors?
  • What kinds of skills are essential for getting a start?
  • What is the best way for a person with no background to acquire those skills?
  • Which is better, independent contractor or employee?
  • What would they do if they were you and wanted to break into the job without any background?
  • Who else do you know who I should talk to in order to learn more?
  • Is there anything at all that you can do for them to repay their kindness?

Interview these people as if you were writing a book. Do not even think about hitting these people up for a job offer. Your objective is to continue to learn and make contacts. After each interview, send a thank you letter (not e-mail) mentioning what you learned and what you’re going to do differently.

3. Act on What You Learn

During your interview process, you’re going to learn a lot. Don’t just connect with these people in order to get job leads. That will happen, of course, but if you only focus on that, you’re going to be throwing away real gold. These people know something you don’t ,so take advantage of the valuable insights they share with you.

When you hear someone tell you to do something, do it. Then follow up with the person who made the recommendation and tell them what you’ve done and what the result has been. For example, if you respect this person’s opinion and they tell you to get started in the vocation as a second job and work for free, do it even though you may not want to. If you knew what you had to do to get the vocational skills training, you wouldn’t be meeting these people…right? They’d be meeting with you!

4. Stay Connectedvocational skills training

People who have valuable insights and are successful are busy. Respect their time. I know you’re anxious about landing a job. But don’t call them unnecessarily, even though the best of them will tell you to call any time you like. Show them you are intelligent by becoming valuable to them rather than a nuisance. Look for opportunities to be a resource for them. Just because you don’t have a job in that area doesn’t mean you don’t have anything to bring to the table.

I recently met with a man who was going to introduce me to a new client. He told me about his businesses and how he was launching a website in order to promote it. While I’m not an expert in online marketing, I know a little about blogging, and I offered to be his sounding board. Obviously, he was delighted. He didn’t expect me to offer him anything of value, and creating that kind of surprise value is just the thing to cement a relationship.

Stay connected to your support circle by letting them know how you’ve progressed and what you’re working on now. Don’t ask for help, but for the opportunity to be of service to them. The only things you want to continue to ask for are the names of people who might be willing to talk with you so you can learn more. Once these people go through the interview process and understand that you aren’t going to hit them up and that you actively look for ways to be of service, they’ll be only too happy to refer you to other professionals in your career.

Over time, two things are going to happen. First, you’re going to learn more and more about what you need to do in order to break into the business. If you actually do these things, you’re going to become more and more attractive to would-be employers. Second, you’re going to get to know more and more people. Sooner or later, one of these people is going to be in a position to hire you.

5. Share the Love

Just because you get your first job it doesn’t mean it’s OK to forget about your old friends. Stay in contact every month or so with a quick e-mail update. Again, close each communication by asking how you might help them. Sooner or later, you’ll be in the position to do so.

Have you ever used any of these techniques to get vocational skills training?



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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

krantcents July 27, 2011 at 1:56 PM

We need good trades professionals! Too many people think it is the easy way out to become an auto mechanic or electrician, but these are not easy jobs. You need a variety of skills such as math, technology and much more.


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