Computer Skills: Definitions and Examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 12 June 2021

In today's technology and information age, it no surprise that job applicants with strong computer skills get far more jobs than those who don't. From mobile phones to laptops and from RFID scanners to POS systems, many jobs today require you to work with computers. In this article, we discuss what computer skills are, find out why they're important, explore some important computer skills and learn how you should feature them on your resume.

What are computer skills?

Computer skills are knowledge and abilities which allow you to use computers and related technology. There are two categories of computer skills: hardware and software. Here's the difference:

Hardware skills

Hardware skills allow you to operate a computer physically, such as knowing how to turn a computer on and off. They may also involve more complex skills, such as changing parts of a machine, repairing broken devices or connecting machines to networks. For these complex tasks, employers usually hire trained professionals with advanced computer skills.

Software skills

Software skills can help you use computer applications and programs efficiently. There are some software skills that companies may consider as prerequisites to employment. Companies may not indicate some software skills on job advertisements under the assumption they're universally understood. For instance, many companies may believe all job candidates possess a basic knowledge of a word processing program.

Here's a look at some common computer skills:

  • Data visualisation

  • Marketing automation

  • Email communication

  • Spreadsheets

  • Graphic design

  • Social media

  • Analytics

Software skills for the workplace

There are certain software skills that are more commonly preferred in different industries. For example, if you're applying for a job as a computer programmer, the employer may require you to have knowledge of various coding languages such as HTML, Java or Python. If you're applying for a position in administrative assistance, the employer may require you to have experience working with Google apps, Microsoft Office Suites and accounting software.

To determine which software skills companies in your field might expect, you can research some of the most common software skills for your career. Read job descriptions carefully and note the requirements listed there.

Related: Selecting the Right CV Skills in 5 Simple Steps

Why computer skills are important for a resume?

With the advancement of technology, the computer skills you possess can set you apart when applying for a job. When you think about it, there are only a few positions that don't use technology. Even industries that traditionally didn't require computers, such as landscaping and farming, now use technology for reservations, accounting and marketing.

Every professional job requires the use of a particular technology, which ranges from hardware to computer applications. Also, every professional has unique computer skills with different levels of proficiency. Finding the perfect balance between what's needed and what a candidate has is the primary goal of hiring managers when recruiting a new employee. If the hiring manager finds someone who has all the necessary computer skills, they won't need to spend a lot of time and resources on training, which means they'll get a fast return on their hiring investment.

To determine if you have the computer skills essential for the position you're applying for, hiring managers usually look at your resume. They may only spend a few seconds reviewing your resume, and during that time, they're looking to see if the computer skills required to jump out. As an applicant, it's your job to know what computer skills a position requires. It's also your responsibility to highlight those skills on your resume in a way that captures the attention of the hiring manager.

Related: Show Hiring Managers That You're Ready to Work

Eight essential computer skills

Depending on your industry or career, the type of computer skills employers will expect vary. For instance, if you're applying for an office manager position, the employer may require you to have a basic knowledge of email platforms, spreadsheets, word processing software and other communication tools. However, there are many other computer skills that are typically used across all industries. These include:

Operating systems

An operating system (OS) is software that supports the basic function of a computer, such as executing applications, scheduling tasks and controlling peripherals. While there are several types of operating systems, many companies use either MacOS or Windows. If you have more knowledge or experience in one or the other, you can spend some time learning how the other operating system works.

Office suites

Having a basic knowledge of productivity application suites, such as Google Suite or Microsoft Office, can add value to your resume. An office software suite comes with a variety of productivity and collaboration tools, such as Microsoft Excel, Outlook and Word. Learning how to use these tools can help you perform several tasks on the job.

Presentation software

Presentation skills are both valuable computer and soft skills. Having a basic knowledge of presentation software is essential for organising and presenting ideas during a meeting. There are a variety of applications you can use to make presentations, such as PowerPoint, which is the most widely used presentation program across all industries.

Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets are programs used to organise information or data into tables and quickly compute numbers. You can also use spreadsheets for advanced data analysis. Some companies may expect you to have a basic working knowledge of a spreadsheet program. If you're applying for a more technical job, the employer may require you to have in-depth knowledge of advanced spreadsheet features.

Collaboration and communication software

Many companies use collaboration and communication tools to help with productivity. In a resume, list only the collaboration or communication tools relevant to the job you're applying for. Review the job advertisement carefully to determine whether including this information will increase your chances of getting hired for the job.

Accounting software

If you're applying for a position in the business or finance sector, accounting software skills are important. If you're applying for a job in a small company, having solid accounting software skills may be very useful if the company requires you to assume multiple roles, such as managing payments, accounts or other financial information.

Social media

To increase and effectively manage their online presence, companies often hire individuals who have social media skills. Recruiters often require these skills when hiring for positions in advertising, marketing and public relations. Many of these positions often require knowledge of specific social media applications. If you're looking for a career in social media, you can complete minor projects at your present company to add these skills to your resume.

Related: 10 Best Skills to Include on a CV

Data visualisation

Aside from having basic knowledge of spreadsheet programs, having data visualisation skills may also help you in a data-heavy role. Data visualisation is becoming more and more popular, as data analytics becomes more important for companies, making this an excellent computer skill to learn. You can find visualisation tools in a spreadsheet program. Some visualisation tools allow you to transport data from spreadsheet programs for more advanced visualisation and analysis.

Highlighting computer skills on your resume

It's important to incorporate computer skills throughout your entire resume. When hiring managers review your resume, they often scan over each section, which is why it's important to highlight your computer skills in these three main areas:

Professional summary section

A professional summary section is a brief statement at the top portion of your resume, under the header and contact information section. It's usually one to three sentences long and includes your title, years of experience and the skills that set you apart from other candidates. You can highlight one of your key computer skills in this section. Here's a good example:

Team-focused editor with over five years of experience using collaboration and content management software including Trello and Slack.

Summary of skills section

Following your professional summary is your 'skills' section. Other titles for this section could be 'core competencies', 'key skills', or 'technical skills'.

Write your skills section in list form. Depending on the number of computer skills you want to include, you can either organise them into categories or list them out separately. If you're planning to include 10 skills or fewer, you can list them out separately. If you want to include over 10 skills, you can organise them into categories. Here's an example of a skills section that highlights computer skills:

Skills

  • Salesforce

  • Marketing automation systems

  • MS Word (mail merge)

  • MS Excel (advanced formulas, macros, pivot tables)

Experience section

After your skills section comes your experience section, also known as '**work experience' and 'professional experience' section. When writing your experience section, list your most recent employer first. For each job, include the name of your employer, the job title, the dates of employment and three to five bullet points detailing your day-to-day responsibilities.

When writing your responsibilities, highlight as many computer skills as you can. You can explain how and where you used each of these skills so you can validate the computer skills you have mentioned in your skills section. Here's a good example of the experience section that highlights computer skills:

Data Analyst
BahoBilat Technology Inc. | May 2018 - Current

  • Utilising advanced SAS experience to portfolio data and query customer

  • Simplifying and presenting complex data for business consumption using tools like PowerPoint

  • Using LaoCheng BI and other business intelligence software to make and analyse product and customer metrics

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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