When you are looking for a new career later in life, the sheer volume of different computer applications, online social media sites and technologies can be overwhelming if you haven’t needed them before.
Here is my list of 9 computer skills you need to make sure you’re ready for your next job.
- Search engines – Google.ca is the big guy on the block, but there are others, including bing.com (from Microsoft) and yahoo.ca plus many others. These all work basically the same but will give different results. It’s also important to understand that the way you phrase your search will result in different answers (more on that in a future article).
- Word processing – Microsoft Word is the giant in this genre and the de facto standard in most businesses, regardless of industry. It’s difficult to call yourself computer literate unless you know the basic functions in Word, including formatting text, spellcheck, tables and headers. For very basic documents, WordPad (included with Windows) may have enough functionality but you may quickly find that it can’t do everything you need to do.
- Spreadsheets –Microsoft Excel is the giant in this genre too. Spreadsheets are used to work with, formulate, sort and search tables of data (usually numbers, but may be all text too). Anything from sales reports to contact lists are easily managed in Excel.
- Presentations – Microsoft PowerPoint is the standard when it comes to creating presentations. Whether you need to present a report to your boss or create a presentation for her to present to the shareholders meeting, basic skills in PowerPoint are critical. Templates and designs make it very easy to create a sharp presentation in your company’s colours. Be careful not to overdo it on the fancy stuff – transitions and animations – they can easily become distracting to your audience.
- Internet browsers – the most common now are Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. In Windows 10, Internet Explorer was replaced by Microsoft Edge (my least favourite). Browsers are used to go directly to websites whereas search engines are used to look up (millions) of answers to questions or keywords. The confusion sometimes comes up when you go into a browser such as Chrome and the first thing that appears is a google search page – you’re using Chrome to go to the google website to do your search. You may encounter a website that doesn’t work in one browser but works in another; this is due to a discrepancy between the technology used to build the website and the technology used by the browser. If a site doesn’t work properly (images don’t display or forms don’t work) in one browser, try another.
- Malware scanning. It’s critical that a computer is regularly checked for “malware” (malicious software). These can come in the form of viruses, spyware and other devious applications that are often installed on the computer through spam emails. Learn how to start a scan and what to do if it finds something. Remember to resist the temptation to do other work on your computer while the scan is running – this can disrupt the scan and will make it take longer. Free virus scanners available on the internet are very effective but you need to remember to run them regularly. Paid versions run continuously whenever the computer is turned on.
- Common keyboard commands – there are hundreds of keyboard shortcuts that will speed up your work, but there are probably a dozen or so that you will use regularly. Learn them and use them – many keyboard shortcuts are the same across all the Microsoft applications. It will make working with a computer faster and easier. Click here for a list of the most popular keyboard shortcuts in Microsoft Office.
- Social Media – while there are dozens of different online applications that meet the definition of social media (websites that facilitate the sharing of updates, photos, videos), there are only a few of interest to most people and businesses. Facebook (personal, social sharing), Twitter (short snippets of information), Instagram (photos) and LinkedIn (professional networking) are the most important. Create an account on each one, make sure it’s kept up to date, follow thought leaders and make connections to build your internet presence (visibility)
- My most important tip? Take a deep breath and jump in. You can’t really do any physical damage and it will build your confidence if you build your skills.
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Adapted from www.techrepublic.com/10-things