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What Are Computer Skills?
Computer skills are a type of hard skill that refers to any specific ability that makes you particularly good at using computers, software, systems, apps, or social media.
The fact that it’s a hard skill means that it’s an ability easy to measure, demonstrate, or quantify. This is in contrast to soft skills —— which include abilities like teamwork, communication, and leadership —— that are harder to show or prove.
The importance of computer skills
Almost every single job in every industry involves using some sort of computer interface to perform a function. Some level of computer skills is necessary for every job!
If you can identify and hone in on the kinds of computer skills or interaction a job requires, it will give you an edge over other candidates.
In some industries, obviously anything in the tech world, like digital engineering, online marketing, programming, editing, etc., will require extensive computer skills and proficiency with the right computer languages.
In such industries, it’s going to be really important that you feature your computer skills in a smart and detailed way!
Other jobs might have a less tech-focused nature but still rely on computers to execute business.
For example, most restaurants use computerized ticketing and point-of-sale (POS) systems. While your ability to serve doesn’t wholly depend on the POS system, it’ll be much more likely that you get the job if you have some familiarity with certain systems and mention it in your hiring application.
Top Computer Skills
Computer program proficiency
For many office jobs, entry-level jobs, or white-collar work, showing your familiarity with general word processing, spreadsheet, messaging, organizing, or slideshow programs will help increase your chances of landing the role.
Mention that you’re proficient in MS Office (Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, OneNote, Access) or Google Suite or G Suite (Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms); those are two of the biggest. Of course, you should choose to feature the programs that best apply to the job.
Refer to your email skills: mail merge, filters, folders, and rules to run advanced marketing campaigns based on email automation platforms like MailChimp or Aweber. Email skills are highly valued for many roles like customer service, digital advertising, HR roles, technical support, outreach, and client relations.
This is just a specific kind of software specialization. Still, it’s very helpful to mention if you have advanced skills with slideshow programs like PowerPoint, Google Slides, OpenOffice Impress or Tableau. That’s because many companies rely on digital presentations for the sake of disseminating important information to their employees. Selling your digital presentation skills can open doors!
While this is a more advanced computer skill that would only be expected in certain more tech-focused roles, knowledge of computer platforms like MS Access, Oracle, Teradata, IBM DB2, MySQL, SQL pays off. Every large company needs administrators and database professionals that can keep their internal systems running.
There’s a lot of demand for expertise in QuickBooks or similar financial software for many accounting roles or office jobs. It’s a bonus to discuss the specific applications of your skills: expense tracking, accounts payable, cash flow management invoicing, labor hours, payroll or reports. Companies seek out professionals with these specific skills.
To survive in today’s marketplace, many companies need to keep an active presence on social media to engage with their customers. A lot of companies leave it to entry-level employees to manage their Facebook, Instagram or TikTok accounts. More than mention you have used these platforms, take it a step beyond: Explain how you apply your social media skills, e.g., clever ways to post about giveaways, post engagement metrics, or discuss customer interaction.
We live in an image-dominated world; as such, many companies seek individuals with skills like Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat, Corel Draw or HTML/CSS because they can translate their ideas into compelling images. These skills will be expected in most creative fields. However, they may be a sweet bonus to include if you’re working in a small office environment.
Enterprise systems are large-scale computer packages that can track and control many of the complex functions of businesses. Experts with knowledge of enterprise systems may be responsible for managing or using automated billing systems, business intelligence, business continuity planning, customer relationship management (e.g., Salesforce, Oracle NetSuite), and payment processing.
Computer hardware skills
If you have specialized skills using any sort of specific computer hardware that might be important to a role, it’s worth it to note. This could include system administration, network configuration, software installation, security, tech support, updates, TCP/IP, DNS, DHCP, WAN/LAN, Windows, Linux/Unix, Ubuntu, virtualized networks, network automation, cloud management, or AI/machine learning.
Additional computer skills:
- Web development
- Open-source data structures
- Machine learning
- Algorithm development
- AI programming
- A/B Testing
- Virus monitoring
- Data compression
- Systems diagnostics
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How to Showcase Computer Skills
Now we’ll outline the process you should follow to include computer skills on your resume, cover letter and — with hope — your interview!
In all three cases, take these steps first to ensure you include the most relevant skills:
The job post or description is where an employer tells you exactly what they are looking for in filling a role.
You must pay very close attention to the skills and keywords they seem to put the most emphasis on.
If you do, it will make it easier to target the right skills!
If you don’t, you may not target the right skills and therefore not seem like a strong candidate for the job.
First of all, try to ensure that any computer skill you list seems relevant to the job if not mentioned explicitly in the job post.
Especially when those computer skills seem important to the job, make sure it’s echoed back in your hiring documents. Use the same phrasing listed in the job description!
This will show that you pay attention and, even better, help you pass an applicant tracking system (ATS).
Larger companies usually use ATS to sort and prescreen candidates. They are programmed to scan your resume and cover letter looking for certain keywords or phrases, and if you don’t have enough of the matching terms, your resume may be discarded.
Targeting your resume to match the job post will help you avoid getting skipped!
Computer skills in your resume
There are two main places to feature computer skills in your resume.
The first is to have a “Skills” section and list six to eight total skills, including a balance of hard skills and soft skills.
The second way is to include them in the bullet points of your work experience and achievements. For example, instead of just listing the skill “SQL coding,” you could choose to feature it in bullet points explaining your work history, such as “Code and optimize SQL queries, resulting in 16% increase in system efficiency.”
Remember, since computers help us quantify data, it’s always good that you frame your computer skills in terms of numbers and quantifiable metrics.
For example, could you see that it’s a lot more impactful that beyond mentioning your proficiency in Google Docs or Microsoft Word, you also include the fact that you can type 78 words per minute.
Numbers and quantifiable metrics will grab the attention of hiring managers and better show the scope of your abilities!
You can also check out our full guide on How to Write Resume Skills if you want to get into even more nitty-gritty on this subject.
JobHero can help save you a lot of time with our Resume Builder.
That’s because our builder is preloaded with computer skills tailored to the job title you’re applying for. We’ve loaded our professional job title database to be synced with relevant skills and computer needs.
That way, you get some guidance in choosing the right set of skills to include.
Furthermore, it can save you a lot of time writing your resume since it automates the whole process! All you have to do is follow the prompts and fill out your resume’s information section-by-section.
Computer skills in your cover letter
A cover letter is your opportunity to tell a story about yourself that helps an employer understand what you’re like as a worker.
Furthermore, a well-written cover letter is an opportunity to tell a little story that demonstrates the full prowess of your computer skills.
If the job demands computer skills, convince recruiters by backing up your claims about your skills with outcomes that prove them.
Give an anecdote about your computer skills in a problem-action-resolution sort of frame. You first identify an obstacle you had to confront, mention how you put your computer skills into action, and then explain the outcome.
Here is an example of how a candidate could justify their computer skills in a cover letter body paragraph:
“When my employer GyroSoft upgraded to a new, much larger office, I was tasked with engineering the server and network setup in advance. The project required increasing our network to include another 200 office terminals and 10 additional conference rooms. Cross-collaborating with executive leadership and building management, I put my network logistics skills to the test and was able to have a fully functional office network in place ahead of our move-in date. Even better, our new network showed a 9% improvement on overall stability testing.”
Now all you’ve got to do is find your way to tell a convincing story about your computer skills.
If you want a little insider help putting it all together, check out JobHero’s Cover Letter Builder.
It makes writing a cover letter easier by guiding you through the process and making design a breeze with templates. That way, all you have to do is follow the prompts and the autosuggestions — it’ll save you effort and time!
Computer skills during an interview
Similar to the way you can use your cover letter to tell a story, in your interview, you’re going to be expected to back up the claims you make about yourself by telling stories that illustrate your abilities.
So, if you know that computer skills are central to doing your job and you get asked about them in an interview, have some idea of the stories you want to tell that will make you look good.
If the interviewer asks you a common question like, “What makes you think you’re the programmer we should hire?”
Here’s an example of a strong reply:
“As a back-end engineer, my programming language fluency is only exceeded by my passion for problem-solving and using my critical thinking abilities. I thrive on working on a team and listening to those around me. As evidence, at my last job, I was put in charge of a group of four other designers and tasked with programming the physics processor for a client’s video game production.”
Like the above example, you should illustrate them in a story with a problem-action-solution progression, with your computer skills being essential to the solution.
That will make it easier to convince potential employers of your skills!
How to Improve Computer Skills
There is no shortage of ways that you can improve or develop your computer skills!
Just make sure that you hone in on what skills you’re going to need for the job you want. Do some research!
LinkedIn Learning is a good way to earn certifications that you can add straight to your professional profile when it comes to basic administrative and office skills.
There are also options like coding, data analytics, programming, or SEO boot camps to improve certain skill sets and help you find job placement.
Or, you can also see this comprehensive list of some of the most discussed skills in computer science.