You’ve made the decision: it’s time to make your job search a priority, but your technology skills are holding you back. You’ve been out of the workforce for 5, 10, maybe 15 years or longer, just as technology has rapidly changed how we work. You haven’t stayed current with the latest software required for the jobs you desire.
Sound familiar? The honest truth is that having good technology skills is expected in today’s work environment, and weak technology skills remains a top concern for employers hiring career re-entry candidates. The good news is that it’s never too late to learn new skills.
Last week’s in Part I of this 5-part series, I provided a brief description of the 6 steps you can take to achieve technological proficiency for today’s workforce. Today, I will dive deeper starting with:
The challenge is that the skills you need differ widely from job to job. In fact, how you use a certain software will vary from job to job. An accountant, for example, uses MS Excel much differently than how an administrative professional uses the same software. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to determine what skills are needed for the positions you want.
Start by mastering these BASIC proficiencies:
- Microsoft Office Suite. Specifically, proficiency in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
- Email platform and calendar tool typically used for business, such as MS Outlook, Google/Gmail, or Amazon Web Services. If you understand how one works, you will be able to transition to another. So pick one and master it.
- Understanding of how internet browsers, such as Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Mozilla Firefox, work.
- Use of a SmartPhone for email, texting, apps, calendar, note taking, reminders, etc.
- Familiarity with video conferencing technologies, such as Skype, GoToMeeting, WebEx, Adobe Connect, or Google Hangouts.
- Understanding of how social media is used in the business environment. Start with LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
- For job search purposes, LinkedIn is the premier on-line resource for networking. Connect with former colleagues and current contacts. Find new connections. More and more recruiters use LinkedIn for passive recruiting. Do you have a LinkedIn profile? What does it say about your personal brand?
- Ability (and confidence!) to troubleshoot minor technical issues on your own, instead of rushing to your supervisor or IT support for simple requests. Get comfortable “clicking around” and accessing web tutorials to solve a problem or learn something new.
Now that we’ve discussed the basic technology skills that are needed in today’s workplace, Part III of this series will cover how to identify the specialized technology skills needed for the specific job you are targeting.
Sheila Murphy is Co-Founder/Partner of FlexProfessionals, LLC, a niche staffing agency that matches professionals seeking meaningful, flexible work with growing businesses looking for top talent. Karen Eye, FlexProfessionals Career Re-Entry Intern, contributed to the research and writing of this article. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.