Basic Computer Job Skills
These days, employers require employees to accomplish many of their normal, daily duties by way of computers. So, lots of jobs require basic computer user skills. For example, many corporate employees use computers to perform one of more of the following tasks, regardless of their job titles.
- Log on to workgroups
- Communicate by email
- Compose documents
- Provide budget input
- Enter database information
- Create presentations
- Plan projects
- Download company forms
- Make benefit choices
- Preserve (back up) important data
While a computer is the central piece of furniture in many an employee's office, these tasks don't really comprise "computer jobs" per se. Rather they are a big part of traditional jobs, that now require basic computer user skills to perform them more efficiently. For example,
- A project manager needs to know traditional planning techniques, but likely also needs to know how to efficiently operate a software application that helps schedule, organize and analyze tasks, deadlines and resources. Even employees who aren't PMs might have to compute and submit plans for their own projects.
- An administrative assistant needs traditional typing, grammar, spelling and formatting knowledge to compose business letters for the boss, but now needs to be proficient with word-processing software, too. For that matter, many employees must compose documents of some sort with word processors.
The standard office tasks above and more, require basic user skills just to operate a computer at the rudimentary level. For that, it's wise to learn how to effectively operate the latest version of Microsoft Windows, the most popular computer operating system. If you already know one of the consumer versions fairly well, it certainly helps. But many companies have Windows NT Workstation or Windows XP Professional installed on employee desktops and laptops. They are somewhat different animals from the consumer versions, especially the older ones. So, it's a good idea to update your resume with NT, XP Professional or both. Windows XP and XP Professional are the latest releases at this writing. But, natch, that's subject to change.
Note: Some employers require you to know the Mac Operating System by Apple Computer. Some specialties might too, such as graphics design and digital video production. A discussion of specialties is on the next page.
Most standard office tasks also require familiarity to proficiency with software applications, such as those included in Microsoft Office. Since it's the most popular office suite, it's a good one to know for just about any job that requires basic computer skills. It may seem that, if you learn any of the applications in Microsoft Office, you're learning specialized or advanced skills. But in reality, many employers consider Microsoft Office skills to be among the basics. If your occupation demands that you are proficient with one or more of these applications, earning Office Specialist Certification might help you to beat out other job candidates.
Good Microsoft Office applications to know are Word and Outlook, at least at the accomplished-beginner or intermediate level. Depending on the job, you might also need to know one or more among Excel, Access and Project to some degree. PowerPoint is a good one to know if you must make presentations. It's not unusual for even "ordinary" employees to make presentations, such as for department or project meetings. These applications are good stepping stones too, because once you know them well, you'll also know the fundamentals of many others.
It's also a good idea to know how to operate and configure the Internet Explorer or Netscape Web Browser, or both. There are other browsers, but those are the most popular, with Internet Explorer in the lead. They're free, so if you have one flavor, you might want to download and learn the other. Employers are assuming that just about everybody knows how to access the Web these days, and even what terms like FTP, download and cookie are all about. So, for one thing, employers are reducing the cost of paperwork, such as benefit application and claim forms, time cards, and paycheck stubs, by shifting much of it to their Web sites. Because you're reading this in a browser, their assumption is likely correct for you, at least in part. But if you're not yet fairly proficient with the popular browsers and familiar with the terms, you'd be wise to learn. There will likely be much more of this to come.
Many companies have support gurus, classes and such to help you with some of this, but it's a plus to already have it on your resume.