In this day and age, it’s vital that you have good computer skills to get ahead in the job market and land your dream job. Being able to proficiently use a computer and a range of common software tools will give you the competitive edge over others when applying for jobs, and will show employers that you can hit the ground running with your impressive computer skills.
However, it can be hard to know what employers are looking for these days, and which computer skills will make the biggest impact on your CV.
Table of Contents
21 Basic Computer Skills
We’ve picked the 21 basic computer skills that we think you need to have to ensure success in 2021! Make 2021 the year you secure your dream job and become a computer master!
1. Basic Microsoft Word
Microsoft Office is used in most homes, workplaces, and educational establishments, so it’s vital that you know how to use Microsoft Word to create Word documents. Microsoft Word makes it easy to create documents for your own personal use, but also documents which can be quickly and easily shared with other team members. Even if you don’t do a lot of writing in your day-to-day job, it’s essential that you can use Microsoft Word confidently when you need to.
At a basic level, you should be able to create and save documents, edit documents, format text and paragraphs, as well as being able to add things such as tables and graphics to your documents to make them more visually appealing.
2. Work Collaboratively in Microsoft Word
As well as being able to use Microsoft Word for your own needs, it’s also a good idea to know how to work collaboratively with others when it comes to Microsoft Word to ensure you make the process as smooth and efficient as possible.
This means knowing how to use features such as track changes, and ensuring that you highlight your edits by using the comment feature. This will make it easier for others to see the edits you have made, and approve or reject them as necessary. It also makes it easier to keep track of all the versions of the document, to ensure you can revert back to an earlier version if needed.
Microsoft Excel is an incredibly powerful spreadsheet tool if you know how to use it properly, but if you don’t have basic Microsoft Excel skills then it can quickly become confusing and overwhelming. In order to feel comfortable with Microsoft Excel you should be able to create a file, and set up your spreadsheet to contain the data you need with ease. You should also be able to save your file regularly in order to make sure you don’t lose any changes you may have made.
Additionally, it’s helpful to be able to manage a number of different sheets within one Microsoft Excel document and understand how to link your sheets together. Finally, you should be able to format your Microsoft Excel documents so they are clear and readable.
4. Formulas and Functions in Microsoft Excel
As well as basic spreadsheets, you can use Microsoft Excel to create formulas and functions which make your spreadsheets a lot easier to manage. A formula is an expression which calculates the value of a cell. Functions are predefined formulas and are already available in Excel.
Using formulas and functions will give your spreadsheet the ability to do things such as complicated calculations in a matter of seconds and all without creating any extra work for yourself. Using formulas and functions also means that you won’t have to re-do your calculations whenever you add new data to a sheet, as Microsoft Excel will automatically include any new data and present you with the results.
You can use formulas and functions to do things such as:
Add up the total of a range of cells
Calculate the character or word count of a range of cells
Work out the average of a range of cells
Count all the cells in a given range that contain only numbers
Check the conditions of cells in your sheet
Trim empty spaces in cells
Find the maximum number and the minimum number in a range of values
5. Using Pivot Tables and Charts in Microsoft Excel
If you’re using Microsoft Excel to create sheets full of useful data, it’s important that you know how to take that data and create visualisations of the data. This will make your Microsoft Excel documents easier to understand, and people who haven’t worked with them directly will still be able to pull out the important data without having to read the entire sheet.
You can easily create visualisations of your data in Microsoft Excel using pivot tables and pivot charts. A pivot table will allow you to organise and summarise selected columns and rows from your Microsoft Excel sheet to obtain a desired report. This means you can focus on the vital data that needs to be explained to others, but pull it out from the rest of the data in your sheet so it becomes the main focus.
Pivot charts allow you to take this more focussed data and turn it into a chart or graph, so you can see in seconds the information which your spreadsheet is trying to convey. Using pivot tables and charts is particularly useful when you’re working with large amounts of important data, but only need to pull across a summarised version in order to show the results of your analysis.
6. Basic Microsoft PowerPoint
Microsoft PowerPoint is an amazingly powerful tool which you can use to create professional-looking presentations with ease. Microsoft PowerPoint comes equipped with a range of different slide types, effects, and animations which you can use to create amazing presentations. You can even create templates to ensure your presentations all look the same and all meet the same high standard.
Microsoft PowerPoint presentations are a great visual aid during meetings and they’re also a great sales tool for explaining your product offering to your clients. They can be shared online during meetings or sent via email to others, making them a super versatile tool.
You should feel confident creating basic presentations, adding pictures and objects to your presentations, and adding transitions to your slides to ensure you create amazing presentations every time.
7. Basic Microsoft Outlook
Microsoft Outlook is a powerful email tool, and if your workplace uses Microsoft Office for its other features, then chances are they will use Microsoft Outlook as their email client as well. In order to quickly and efficiently deal with any emails that come your way, you need to have the confidence and skills to use Microsoft Outlook effectively.
This means you should be able to do things such as create new emails, BCC and CC people into your emails, add attachments to your emails, search your inbox, use your out of office feature, and manage your junk mail so it doesn’t clog up your inbox.
8. Manage Your Tasks
Even if you love a paper to-do list, you need to be able to manage your tasks and workload on your computer. Chances are your workplace and team will be using some sort of task management systems such as Trello or Asana to assign tasks to team members and get a complete overview of all the outstanding tasks in a department.
You need to be able to use these online task tools to keep on top of your own tasks and mark off your tasks as and when you do them to ensure your manager has visibility on what you are doing. You should also be able to get an overview of other tasks in your department so you can see when the output you are waiting on is expected to be finished.
Overall, being able to use online scheduling tools will ensure your whole department runs a lot smoother.
9. Using Your Calendar
Whether you use your Outlook calendar or your Google calendar, it’s important that you know how to use an online calendar in order to keep yourself organised. Your workplace will have a preferred online calendar, and everyone should use the same one to ensure a consistent calendar view across the entire company.
When it comes to online calendars, you will need to use your computer skills to be able to do things such as blocking out your time, arranging meetings, inviting attendees, and cancelling and editing meetings when needed.
10. Video Conferencing
Video conferencing is another essential computer skill that you need in 2021, especially as more and more people are working from home. This means being familiar with video conferencing tools such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Skype, and feeling comfortable participating in video conferences.
As well as video phone calls, video conferencing could mean sharing your screen with others or even giving a presentation online.
You need to feel confident using video conferencing software to ensure that your team meetings and presentations run as smoothly as if you were in the room. It can seem a little overwhelming participating in video conferences, but they are really no different than in-person meetings once you get to grips with the software.
11. Online Training
Online training is a popular delivery method for workplace training, but again, it is even more crucial these days with more people working from home on a daily basis. Being able to complete online training in a competent manner is an essential computer skill, and will help aid your personal and professional development.
Completing online training means being familiar with the way eLearning platforms work. This usually means watching a series of videos and being able to complete an online quiz to gain your qualification.
12. Instant Messaging
Whether you work in a large building, a multinational company, or you’re working from home just now, instant messaging is a common communication method between workmates. It allows you to ask someone a quick question as though you were in the room with them, rather than relying on email, which may waste a lot of time for a quick query.
Your workplace may use tools such as Skype or Slack in order to keep you connected with your teammates, and it’s important you have the computer skills required to use these tools effectively. You should be able to chat with team members, create group chats, and share documents via your instant messaging tool.
13. Online Phone Calls
While you may be used to instant messaging and video conferences, you may not be familiar with online phone calls, but this is an essential computer skill these days. While many companies will have internal phone systems, some opt to use online phone systems instead to save on costs, especially if a lot of their team have the flexibility to work from home.
Online phone calls can face technical issues more frequently than traditional phone calls, as they rely on your office or home wi-fi being on top form at all times. It’s important you also know how to do things such as put calls on hold and transfer calls to others in a calm and professional manner.
14. Basic Photoshop
While it’s not essential in every job role, knowing your way around Photoshop is a highly-valued computer skill to have. Photoshop can be used for a number of different reasons and can help you do things such as creating posters, creating professional marketing materials, editing photos, and creating amazing artwork.
Being able to use Photoshop can enhance things such as your presentations or sales collateral, and having this extra skill could be just the thing that bags you your dream job!
As well as Microsoft Office, it’s a good idea to be proficient in Google Drive and the associated programs to ensure you can work seamlessly with team members in any location.
Google Drive allows you to create documents which can easily be shared online. Using Google Drive means you can access your work documents from anywhere without having to worry about transferring files to different computers. Google Drive also makes it super easy to collaborate on documents as you can share access with others and live edit the document at the same time!
16. Web Searching Skills
As well as being able to use software on your computer, another essential computer skill is being able to quickly and efficiently search the web to find the information you need. This could be to get the answers to a question you have, to conduct research for a work document, or to get the details you need to prepare a personalised sales presentation for a company.
It’s vital you can get online quickly and know your way around a search engine to ensure that the research phase of your project doesn’t slow you down or affect your productivity.
17. Basic Troubleshooting Skills
There’s nothing worse than getting stuck on something and not knowing the answers, and that’s why a great computer skill to have is basic troubleshooting skills. Obviously if something quite complicated goes wrong with your computer or a tool you’re using, you may need to reach out to someone else for help. But if you’re experiencing a small problem it will be much quicker and easier all round if you can find the answer and fix the problem yourself.
This could mean using a program’s troubleshooting and help section, or jumping online and seeing if you can quickly find the answer. It’s important that you are able to take this initiative and try and sort things out yourself rather than always having to wait on the IT department to come to your rescue, as this could leave you waiting for a long time if they’re very busy!
18. Fast and Accurate Typing
One computer skill which will always be in high demand is being able to type quickly and correctly! Perfect typing skills are an essential part of most jobs, and so it’s worth taking the time to perfect your writing skills in order to impress your employer.
Whether it means replying to emails that are a little bitter faster or creating documents in no time, being a fast typer is a highly-valued asset. However, you need to make sure that your writing skills are accurate as well as fast, otherwise you’ll waste lots of time going back over your work to fix mistakes!
As well as great typing skills, it’s really important that you have the professional proofreading skills needed to give your writing the expert eye and ensure that your copy is always error free. Being a good proofreader means being able to proofread both on paper and on your computer screen to ensure you catch errors no matter where you’re working.
You should also know how to use the spelling and grammar checker on your writing program, and know how to make use of tools like Grammarly to give your writing a professional error check.
20. Minute Taking
Even if you’re only attending virtual meetings right now, it’s important to have amazing minute taking skills. This will allow you to create an accurate record of every meeting you attend and share your notes with other attendees later so everyone knows what needs to get done for the next meeting.
Being able to take accurate minutes that highlight the key points while still paying attention to the meeting is highly-valued computer skill. It will also help ensure that anyone who missed the meeting can easily catch up on the main points.
21. Using Web Browsers
The final computer skill that is vital to have in 2021 is being able to use web browsers quickly and effectively. Whether you’re a fan of Google Chrome or Firefox, it’s important you feel comfortable and confident using your web browser otherwise it will slow you down anytime you try to browse the internet.
Here are just some of the things you should be able to do with ease using a web browser:
Type websites into the address bar.
Navigate through web pages using things like the back button.
Bookmark your favourite websites so you can find them again later.
Use several tabs at once so you can easily switch between websites.
Search your web browser history for websites you have visited previously.
Save images and files which you want to use.
How to Improve Your Computer Skills
If you’re looking to improve your computer skills, there are a couple of ways you can do it to ensure you have the level of computer skills needed to succeed in today’s competitive market.
First of all, it’s important to practice wherever you can. While you may feel comfortable using some areas of your computer, you may avoid others for fear that you don’t know what you’re doing and you’ll make a mistake. This is all part of the learning process, and practising with these tools will help you gain the confidence you need to use them regularly.
You can also look at completing some essential computer skills training to ensure your skills are up to scratch. Training may be the best option for you, as it will focus on the most commonly used area of each program, ensuring that you’re learning the skills you need to make the most of each tool.
Shout About Your Skills
If you’re applying for a new job, chances are the job description will highlight the computer skills they need you to have in order to be proficient in your new role. That’s why it’s so important to tailor your CV to every job you apply for to ensure that your prospective employer is focussing on the computer skills you have that they want.
It’s also a good idea to boast about any additional computer skills you have even if they aren’t specifically mentioned as it will help you stand out from the other candidates. Who knows, that Photoshop or Microsoft Excel qualification could be enough to push you over the edge in the recruitment process.
We hope the computer skills we’ve laid out here will make you an expert computer user, and help you land the job of your dreams!
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