IT job-seekers, look to the MOOC

Employers are receptive to hiring IT job candidates with MOOC educations, but education alone won't result in a job offer. Projects that show how candidates have used their tech skills are key.

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Kresch earned certificates for completing two Berkeley courses on software as a service and MIT's computer science course. He lists each MOOC in the education section of his LinkedIn profile.

The MIT course "was optimized for being taught online, which I think is a really big difference between things that are videotaped and put on the Internet versus adapted to the Internet."

MOOCs allow students to take the courses when they have the time, a trait that appealed to Kresch, who watched the lectures and completed the course assignments during his lunch break and after work.

"There's this big trend toward people moving away from evaluating a brick-and-mortar education and really valuing the experience," he said. "These days your résumé -- more often than not -- is your online presence. It's your list of projects that you've done. It's not courses that you've taken."

MOOCs proved "instrumental" to Dan Farnbach as he looked to start a career in social media.

As online editor at F+W Media, Farnbach manages the publishing company's blog and email marketing campaigns and handles audience development on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Farnbach saw social media emerging when he entered the job market in 2001. After freelancing in the publishing industry for some years, he wanted to add technology skills to his education, which includes a humanities degree from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.

Earning another degree appealed to him, but "it would have been financially difficult to put myself through college."

Instead, he enrolled in Coursera courses, including one on social network analysis. During the eight-week course he learned how to use the open-source social network analysis program Gephi to construct social network visualizations, among other topics.

Farnbach, 34, used a social media map he created for a homework assignment to land his first freelance social media strategy job.

"That gave me another line in my résumé that led to the job I have now," he said. "I was able to be strategic about social strategy from day one despite not having a Facebook page."

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