Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Skills
Information and communications technology (ICT) skills refer to one’s ability to converse with people through technology. Similar to information technology (IT), ICT refers to your ability to use technology for regular, everyday tasks: sending an email, making a video call, searching the internet, using a tablet or mobile phone, and more.
ICT skills also include the ability to use older communication technologies such as telephones, radios, and televisions.
Almost every job requires some ICT skills. Make sure you know the top ICT skills employers in your industry want. In addition, make sure you understand how to demonstrate your ICT skills in your job materials as well as throughout the job search process.
Top 8 ICT Skills
- Email: Being able to effectively and successfully communicate via email is critical to any job. You will need to send emails to colleagues, employers, clients, vendors, and so on. Companies expect their employees to write professional and well-written emails, as well as respond promptly to messages received in their inboxes.
- Online Research: Almost every job requires at least some online research. Whether you are looking up new lesson plans in a subject or checking out the latest news on your company’s competitor, you need to be able to sift through all the information online to find what you need. This involves basic online information management skills.
- Social Media: Some jobs require you to use social media. For example, many people working in marketing tend to manage or update a company’s social media presence. Even if this is not a critical part of your job, employers increasingly look for employees with basic social media literacy. The more you know about the benefits of and limits to social media, the more you can begin to use that media in valuable ways at work.
- Online Collaboration: Online collaboration is a broad category that refers to any means of sharing information with your coworkers (or supervisors, or clients) online. This includes adding a meeting to a shared online calendar, providing feedback on a document through a web-based document application, and holding an online video conference with colleagues.
- Spreadsheets: From researchers to administrative assistants to K-12 teachers, almost everyone now needs to be able to develop and manage data using spreadsheets. Furthermore, they have to be able to analyze that data and recognize trends and patterns. Fluency in programs like Microsoft Excel is critical in today’s job market.
- Desktop Publishing: Desktop publishing involves the creation of a variety of print materials using a computer. These might include fliers, brochures, newsletters, and other materials that include graphics. Because you can create so many materials using desktop publishing, almost any job requires some basic skills in this field. While people with a creative, artistic eye might be particularly good at desktop publishing, anyone can get better with practice.
- Smartphones and Tablets: Many employers require that their employees use smartphones and tablets; they might even issue particular phones to employees or state that workers must have be accessible by email during certain hours. For these reasons, it is important to know how to use a smartphone.
- Word Processing: In this day and age, it is pretty much understood that all job candidates must know how to use word processing technology. Job candidates need to be able to produce written documents (including business letters, meeting minutes, and more) using a computer processor such as Microsoft Word. Candidates also need to be able to type quickly and accurately.
How to Show Employers Your ICT Skills
When job searching, it is important to demonstrate your ability to communicate through technology. You can do this in a number of ways.
First, read the job listing. If the job requires specific ICT skills, be sure to include those keywords in your job materials. You might create an “ICT Skills” section in your resume. Another idea is to include this information in the “Work History” section of your resume. Under the job description for a particular position, you can describe how you successfully used certain ICT skills on the job.
You can also add ICT skills to your cover letter. You might emphasize how you successfully used a particular technological skill to add value to your company in some way. For example, you could write that you were able to successfully set up and troubleshoot all video conference calls at your office, or that you have successfully solved 100 percent of video conference issues.
If ICT skills are not specifically mentioned in the job description, you can still demonstrate your skills throughout the job search. For example, you can highlight your ability to communicate online by sending professional, well-written emails. You might also be asked to conduct an interview via Skype or another video chat service. Make sure to practice in advance to avoid any technical problems during the interview.
By communicating professionally throughout the job process, no matter what the technology, you will impress the employer with your skills.
If you need to brush up on some of your skills, find out how to do so quickly (and without paying a lot of money).
How to Practice Your ICT Skills
Do you feel that your ICT skills are not as good as you want them to be? Is there a particular skill you are struggling with? Here are some tips to boost your skills and get ready for the job market.
Practice using technology. If you already have basic skills, you might consider simply practicing using certain technologies. For example, if you want to get better at using Skype before an interview, simply practice using the video conferencing technology. Ask a friend to pretend to be the interviewer, and do a mock online interview. The more you practice, the more confident you will feel when you use this technology in an interview.
Ask a friend. You could also ask a friend who is more skilled in a particular technology to help you develop your skills. For example, if you aren’t comfortable using your smartphone, ask someone you know (who uses their phone a lot) for some basic tips.
Watch a (free) tutorial. There are many free online tutorials on how to use certain technologies. Some of these are on YouTube or can be found via a quick Google search. Others can be found on company sites. For example, check out Microsoft’s tutorials and PDFs with tips for using certain products.
Attend a (free) class. Check with your local community college or public library to see if they offer classes on computer literacy or ICT skills. Many of these are free or available at a discount for local residents. However, before you spend money on a class, try some of the free strategies first.
Keep Your Skills Upgraded
After you’ve boosted your skills, don’t stop learning. Take some time on a regular basis to work on improving your skill set, and you will increase your ability to succeed in the constantly changing workplaces of today’s knowledge economy.