Important Computer Skills for Resumes & Cover Letters

Development Team Cooperating In Their Office.
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When you're job hunting, 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. 

Many traditional jobs are going away in favor of new, technologically-driven jobs. Some of those jobs require highly specialized skills, such as computer programming. Others merely help an office run better, such as email management.

What are Computer Skills?

The name itself may seem obvious, but the truth is that most people are too overwhelmed by the vastness of technology to know what an employer might mean when the job description simply says “computer skills.”

Typically, employers want applicants who can use specific programs, such as Adobe Illustrator or WordPress. However, new technological developments can quickly change the preferences of potential employers.

In the list of types of computer skills below, we’ve categorized them to help you know what employers might be looking for. Read job descriptions carefully looking for as many specific computer skills as possible, and then highlight those skills during your application process.

Types of Computer Skills

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Productivity Software

Any office professional must know how to master some of the basics of productivity software. If you are reading this article right now, you obviously know most of the computer basics. For more computer skills popular among administrative or clerical jobs, here is a list.

  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Email Management
  • Information Management
  • Data Entry
  • Digital Calendars (Google, Outlook, etc.)
  • Instant Messaging
  • Video Conferencing
  • Cloud Backup Software (Dropbox Pro, Carbonite, etc.)
  • Social Media Management

Digital Marketing

Any business that wants to grow needs more customers. More and more customers are searching online for solutions to their problems. Today, the most effective and measurable marketing efforts occur through digital marketing.

Digital marketing includes everything from website development to social media management to paid digital advertising. The increasing capabilities of computers to collect and sort data give marketers more tools to target their ideal customers.

  • Content Management Systems (CMS)
  • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
  • Automated Marketing Software
  • Digital Media
  • Email Marketing
  • Website Analytics
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Web Page Design
  • Social Media Management
  • KPI Software

Computer Programming

Computer programming involves creating, launching, maintaining, and testing computer software and applications. There are a number of different jobs that involve software development, including software developerprogrammer, software architect, software analyst, and more.

To be able to develop, implement, or test software, you have to have a number of highly technical computer skills, often known more specifically as coding 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.

With the domination of mobile devices, computer programming now includes software development for phones and tablets (known affectionally as “apps). Skills related to either software or hardware development (or both) include:

  • Automation Software
  • Software Programming
  • C
  • C++
  • CISC and RISC Architecture
  • Embedded Processor Hardware Design
  • Hardware Description Language (HDL)
  • Hardware Verification Tools and Techniques
  • HTML
  • Integrated Development Environments
  • Java
  • LabVIEW
  • Operating Systems
  • Memory Management
  • Open-source Software (OSS)
  • Python
  • PHP
  • UI/UX
  • Unix
  • XML

Graphic Design

Creating visually-attractive content for documents, posters, and slide presentations is a highly desirable skill. The world of graphic design includes creating signs to video editing and more.

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 project. Graphic design skills that are growing in demand include:

  • Adobe Creative Cloud 
  • Adobe Illustrator 
  • Adobe InDesign
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Art Design
  • CorelDRAW
  • Corel WordPerfect
  • Design
  • Desktop publishing
  • InDesign
  • Integrating Interactive Elements with Websites
  • Video Creation Software

Databases and Queries

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.

As we noted above, 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:

  • Data Analytics
  • Microsoft Excel
  • FileMaker Pro
  • Fortran
  • Hive
  • HQL
  • MATLAB
  • Numeracy
  • Object Oriented Database Management Systems (OODBMS)
  • Relational database management systems (RDBMS)
  • SAS
  • Spark
  • SPSS
  • Statistics
  • SQL
  • NoSQL
  • XML Database Management Systems

IT Troubleshooting

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 key. IT troubleshooting skills include:

  • Backup Management
  • Client Server Management
  • Client support
  • Configuration
  • Diagnostics
  • End User Support
  • Help Desk
  • Implementation
  • Installation
  • Issue Tracking Systems (ITS)
  • Modem Hardware Troubleshooting
  • Router Troubleshooting
  • Systems Administration
  • Tech Support
  • Software Troubleshooting
  • Remote Access Software

Cybersecurity

In this all-encompassing digital age, power grids and military equipment and more are all managed by computers. Computer hackers have the ability to disrupt major infrastructural functions if companies and governments do not take their cyber security seriously. Among the most important cybersecurity skills are:

  • Intrusion Detection
  • Virus Protection Software
  • Malware Analysis
  • Malware Reversal
  • Software Programming
  • Risk Management
  • Operating Systems
  • Information Management
  • Data Encryption

More Computer Skills

  • AP Style
  • Field-programmable Gate Array (FPGA) Development Tools
  • Client Relationship Management (CRM) Software
  • PCB Layout Review
  • Windows Shell
  • APIs
  • AutoCAD
  • Maya
  • Accounting Software
  • Customer Service
  • IP Configuration
  • Yoast
  • Journalism
  • Virtual Advertising
  • Business Continuity Planning
  • Acrobat
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Automated Billing Systems
  • Point of Sale Systems
  • WAN/LAN
  • Machine Learning
  • Coding
  • Ruby on Rails
  • Software Installation
  • Cisco
  • DNS
  • DHCP

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

Add Relevant Skills to Your Resume: 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. 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." 

Highlight 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.” 

Use Skill Words in Your Job Interview: 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. It will help you sell your credentials to the interviewer.