Are you an asset or a cost to your employer? How valuable and indispensable are you? And, are you recession-proof?

Professionals who expect to progress within corporate environments today have to be able to stand apart from their peers. One of the ways to stand apart from the crowd is to develop your mind by learning continuously, investing in professional development. Knowledge is indeed currency, only if you use it to make yourself invaluable. Jose Silva creator of the Silva Method says, "The greatest discovery you'll ever make, is the potential of your own mind."

When the economy tightens, corporate training budgets are one of the first “expenses” to be slashed, even though this is the perfect time for organizations to build strength to thrive once the economy starts to grow again. Many of the most successful businesses today - Hyatt Hotels, Burger King, FedEx, Hewlett-Packard, General Electric, Microsoft - were started during a recession.

Take control of YOU Inc.

As professionals who are CEOs of YOU Inc., instead of relying on organizations for professional development, take control and be creative with the resources that you do have. The internet and other technologies have created a new educational model. Using online resources, self-learners now have access to a menu of information that would delight the palates of philosophers, visionaries and all who crave a well fed mind.

Becoming valuable

Be focused and strategic with your continuous learning and self-education plan. Look around you with a new set of lens:

• Which problems need solving?
• Which processes are inefficient?
• Where are the cost overruns?
• What do competing organizations do better than your employer, and why?
• What skills are valuable to your employer?
• What skills are valuable in the industry you work in?

After honestly answering the above questions, begin your self-education. In addition, who are the leaders/experts in the area(s) that you are trying to build skills and knowledge? Study them, read the books they have written as well as the books written about them. And, read the books that they read. To cut down on costs, make the library your best friend.

Affordable online education at your fingertips

Welcome to Education 2.0! During the past 10 years, a new breed of online learning tools and resources have cropped up to assist the self-learner at an affordable price: University open courseware, Wikipedia, You Tube Edu, iTunes U, eduFire, and are a few of the educational resources that you can tap into to build you body of knowledge.

University Open Courseware: Several universities have placed their lecture notes, exams and audio lectures and videos online for free as a way to expand their reach to share knowledge among schools and across countries and continents. This practice is a goldmine for the self-learner. And many of the university courseware do not require registration.

Wikipedia: Is a free encyclopedia created by users and is the world’s largest encyclopedia. Wikipedia is one of the first places to start research when trying to build a body of knowledge in any area.

You Tube Edu: You Tube worked with universities and colleges to create video and audio lectures by the best professors in the United States and made them available for free.

iTunes U: A mobile way of learning, iTunes U provides over 200,000 lectures, presentations, videos, readings, and podcasts from all over the world, for download. Some of the content has been created by the best professors in the United States. Many universities have a separate website for iTunes courseware download.

eduFire SuperPass: Is a response to the rapid rise in the cost of education. A paid subscription-based virtual classroom, eduFire offers live audio and video learning. Offers courses to develop individual skills. It is also an on demand workplace development and productivity resource.

Using just a fraction of the online resources mentioned will set you apart from your peers. Self-learning is not easy, but with focus, determination and passion to do what it takes to succeed, professionals will get that edge that is needed for a recession-proof career.

Links to Educational Resources Mentioned

University Open Courseware
MIT Open Courseware:
TUFTS University Open Courseware:
Carnegie Mellon Open Courseware:
Capilano University OpenCourseWare:
UNU Open Courseware (United Nations University):
You Tube Edu:
iTunes U:

Author's Bio: 

Avil Beckford is a writer, researcher and the published author of Tales of People Who Get It and the accompanying workbook Journey to Getting It. If you would like to access additional self-improvement resources, subscribe to The Invisible Mentor Blog, or download white papers from the Resources page.