Computer Skills for Resumes, Cover Letters, and Interviews
When you're job searching, employers are going to want to know about your computer skills. That's because no matter what the position is, computers will almost certainly be involved. Just think about how ever-present computers are, from smartphones to cash registers to the ordering systems at restaurants.
Prospective employers may want applicants who can use specific programs, such as Adobe Illustrator or WordPress. However, which programs are sought after in which industries can change rapidly as new technological developments come in.
Make sure you know the computer skills that are necessary for the jobs you are applying for, and then highlight those skills in your job materials.
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How to Highlight Skills During Your Job Application Process
You can highlight your computer skills – and other relevant skills – throughout the job search process. Adding a skills section to your resume is an easy, handy way to draw attention to your abilities, including your computer skills.
Because many companies initially search resumes for desired keywords by computer, a good list can get your application in the door. You can also weave in your skills when you are writing your job descriptions in your resume. For instance, instead of saying "Edited content on website," you could write, "Edited content within Content Management System using basic HTML for formatting."
You can also mention your skills in your cover letter. The letter needs to be clear and engaging - not a skills list. However, you can bring up certain specific skills mentioned in the job description. For example, “Your job description calls for web design experience, and in my two years at ABC Company, I have gone from wireframes to full designs for several re-launches.”
Be sure to highlight your skills in your interview as well. Before the interview, look back at the job listing and make a list of some of the key skills required for the position. Be prepared to give examples of times you have demonstrated each of these skills.
Each job will require different skills and experiences, so make sure to read the job description carefully, and focus on the skills listed by the employer.
Top Computer Skills
Email, Social Media, and Blogging
Most people with computer access know how to send and receive email, and most have an account on at least one social media platform. Using these tools in a professional context, however, may require a bit more skill and experience.
For example, the successful candidate might have to know how to set up a company email system or know which social media platforms are best for the company’s marketing. A good online media director should not only know what to blog about, but should also know which blogging platform best suits the company’s needs and how to link the blog to the company’s various social media accounts.
Because many bloggers create their own websites, an important skill for bloggers is an understanding of some popular blogging platforms like WordPress. Computer skills related to email, social media, and blogging include:
- AP Style
- Content management systems (CMS)
- Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
- Campaign management software
- Digital media
- Email marketing
- Google Analytics
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Web metrics
- Web page design
Software and Hardware Development and Design
Software development involves developing, implementing, and testing computer software and applications. There are a number of different jobs that involve software development, including software developer, programmer, software architect, software analyst, and more.
To be able to develop, implement, or test software, you have to have a number of computer skills. You must be able to analyze users’ needs and create applications that will be useful to them. You generally need to be familiar with various coding languages and web technologies as well.
Some jobs also require the ability to design, test, and evaluate computer hardware – this refers to the computer system, including circuit boards, processors, routers, and more. Skills related to either software or hardware development (or both) include:
- Build automation software
- CISC and RISC architecture
- Embedded processor hardware design
- Field-programmable gate array (FPGA) development tools
- Hardware description language (HDL)
- Hardware verification tools and techniques
- Integrated development environments
- Memory management
- Open-source software (OSS)
- PCB layout review
- Windows Shell
Graphic Design and Word Processing
Creating content for documents, posters, and slide presentations is one important body of skill. But another, equally important body involves using appropriate computer programs to edit, format, and finalize text, images, and sometimes video or audio, in order to create those finished products.
A single project might well pass through multiple computer programs, and a skilled professional needs to know how all relevant programs work and which ones are appropriate at each stage of the work.
Graphic design and word processing skills that are currently in demand include:
- Adobe Creative Cloud
- Adobe Illustrator
- Adobe InDesign
- Adobe Photoshop
- Art design
- Corel WordPerfect
- Desktop publishing
- Integrating interactive elements with websites
- Microsoft Outlook
- Microsoft Publisher
- Microsoft Visual Studio
- Microsoft Word
- Operating digital video cameras
Spreadsheets and Databases
A good spreadsheet or database not only stores information but also makes it easy to reorganize the information quickly to answer new questions, or even conduct certain kinds of data analysis and processing. A spreadsheet can handle anything from payroll accounts to lists of all the characters (and all their characteristics) for a novel.
Again, professional-level skill means more than simply knowing how to use a spreadsheet or database; you also must know which spreadsheet or database program to use and how to structure it for any given project.
Skills useful for spreadsheet and database management include:
- Adobe Campaign
- Data analytics
- FileMaker Pro
- Microsoft Access
- Microsoft Excel
- Object oriented database management systems' (OODBMS)
- Relational database management systems (RDBMS)
- XML database management systems
Using computers is one thing. Being able to fix them is another. Basic IT skills begin with knowing how and when to do routine maintenance and how to cope with frozen programs or damaged USB ports. Thorough familiarity with the software and hardware of many different types of computer systems, including all lesser-known features, is the height of the art. IT troubleshooting skills include:
- Backup management
- Client server management
- Client support
- End user support
- Help desk
- Issue tracking systems (ITS)
- Systems administration
- Tech support