• Ricia Marano

Computer Skills You Should Have From The Basics to Advanced

Like it or not, computers are our present and future. There are hardly any places of employment that don’t have a computer. Even if you don’t currently use one in your job, you will soon or will need to know how to get a promotion. They also are no longer regulated to office jobs. Your best bet is to start investing now and get comfortable with using a computer. The more at ease you are with operating one, the more software you can learn to use, and the more likely you will be able to handle any software you come across. I’m not suggesting that you become an expert or programmer, but there are definitely some skills you should work on and work towards.


One special note: You do not need any special ability to use a computer if you can read. 95% of figuring things out or determining your next step is to just reading the information in front of you.


Let’s start simple with the internet. Choose a search engine you like. Google is the most popular but there are many others you can use like Microsoft Bing or Yahoo. Searching the internet using a search engine is incredibly easy now. You can even type in your question such as “where can I get a free tutorial for Microsoft Excel?” and you will get results. Also invest some time getting familiar with YouTube, an open video platform. So why do I suggest starting with a search engine and YouTube? Because between the both of them, you can learn how to do just about anything. More on this later.


Next up is email. Everyone should have an email account. I say this because most employers are doing online job applications and with them you are likely to have to make an account with the company. Your account is apt to require an email. So even if you don’t plan on send an email to your cousin, Steve, in Little Rock or do any online shopping (though why you wouldn’t, I don’t know. It’s awesome! So much cool stuff.), set yourself a professional email to use. By professional email I mean just your name and, if needed, a set of easily remembered numbers (not your birthday, last four of your social, or 420, or 69). Learn how to use the email (remember to use your search engine and YouTube for pointers) and check it frequently if you’re job hunting as employers will contact you through email. So where do you get an email account? Well, Google has Gmail and Yahoo has their own. There are other options as well. Just google them (I’m using google here as a common verb for using a search engine. I’m not saying you have to use Google).


Social media is handy to know how to use. More and more companies are using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others to connect with their customers and even future employees. You don’t have to have a profile on every type of social media, but if you’re serious about your career or a job search at least have and upkeep a LinkedIn profile.


The next basic is web/video conferencing software, like Zoom (one of the more popular platforms). Thanks to Covid, more and more business is being conducting through video conference. At the very least, you should how to join a meeting, mute and unmute yourself, and turn video on and off. Look for tutorials online.


Microsoft Office is the next item up and is the most popular software of its kind. Microsoft Office is a software suite that includes Word (documents), Excel (spreadsheets), PowerPoint (presentations), Access (databases), and Outlook (email, calendar). Access isn’t in common usage as many places use proprietary (designed for them) software for databases so don’t go crazy trying to master this one. Outlook is often used in an office setting and is good to know. Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are commonly used by individuals, offices, and students. So far the items we have talked about are free, but Microsoft Office is not free software. Don’t feel you have to run out and buy it unless you are going to use it. There are free tutorials and classes available (Start with https://edu.gcfglobal.org/en/subjects/tech/ which has other computer classes as well) to start yourself off.


Advancing as we go we are moving onto items that will definitely earn you brownie points on your resume. So we’ll start with something that’s good for both home and job: troubleshooting. Again, I’m not asking you to be an expert, but believe me, you can google or YouTube how to fix just about any issue. This little bit of knowledge will make people think you’re a computer wizard when they see you fix your computer. So just how effective is googling or YouTubing to troubleshoot? Let me put it this way. One of my instructors in college said he does it all the time, and he was the professor for a class on how to fix and troubleshoot computer issues. If it’s good enough for someone who is an expert, it really works.


Blogging is another item that can’t hurt to know. If you don’t know what a blog is, welllllll…you’re reading one. Blogs are basically a series of posted articles that can be about your professional expertise, your life, or even that UFO hobby. Check out some blogging platforms and learn how to use one (a lot are free for a basic blog). You don’t have to actually publish anything if you don’t want to. We’re just learning here. However, if you have good writing skills, your company has a blog, and you have an idea, it’s nice to know how to post it yourself.


Website development. I know. Designing a whole website! She must be mad! No, really. Hear me out. First of all there are a ton of website builders out there with free plans. Like a blog you don’t have to publish anything. Just learn how to use one. They are simpler than you think and a ton of fun to play with. And if you happen to work for a company that doesn’t have a website, just maybe you could build them one.


Enterprise software. Unlike the previous three items, this one you may really need to know. Many large companies utilize enterprise systems like Oracle and PeopleSoft as platforms for their operations. If you’re looking to work for that type of employer, check out some of these platforms.


Lastly, job specific software. If you’re a project manager (or want to be) learn some project management software. Want to work for a small company? Check out QuickBooks. You get the idea.


I could go on and on. There’s so much to learn and you don’t have to know it all. The best part is you can teach yourself so much (and save a lot of money on expensive classes!). Is there any other computer skill you think people should know? Add it in the comments!