The Best Computer Skills to Develop For Work

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated November 27, 2022 | Published June 21, 2021

Updated November 27, 2022

Published June 21, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Related: Top Resume Skills

Learn more about what hard skills and soft skills to put on a resume so it stands out from the others.

With so many great technological advances happening every year, most jobs require at least a basic understanding of computers. Many senior roles and technical jobs require intermediate to advanced computer skills. The specific computer skills employers require can range from being able to send emails to more complex tasks, such as using specific software or computer programs. In this article, we explore what computer skills are, why they're important, the different types of computer skills, and how to include them in your job applications.

What are computer skills?

Computer skills refer to your ability to use and learn to complete tasks with a computer. We can divide these skills into two major categories, hardware and software.

Hardware computer skills refer to your ability to use and understand the physical components of a computer. This can include your ability to turn on and connect devices to a computer, diagnose hardware issues, or fix broken devices.

Software computer skills are your ability to use computer programs and applications, such as Microsoft Office or the Adobe Suite. Most employers require that candidates have basic software skills, which you can learn in school, through work experience, or in your own free time.

The more technical your job is, the more advanced computer skills you need. For example, if you work in IT, you must have an advanced understanding of both hardware and software skills. Most employers include specific computer skills you need for the role in their job description and throughout the hiring process.

Related: Basic Computer Skills (Plus Ways to Highlight Them)

Why are computer skills important?

Computers have played a vital role in making work tasks and processes more efficient. For example, handwriting and manually filing documents takes much longer than typing and saving them to an online folder. So, basic computer skills are necessary for most jobs, regardless of the industry. Whether you work in customer service, technology, or food services, the use of computers is likely to be a part of your role.

Many employers offer on-the-job training for specific software or applications they use. However, having a prior understanding of how to use a computer, or better yet, those specific programs, helps you stand out among other candidates. It's especially important to be adaptable. Technology is always changing and improving, so employers seek candidates that can learn how to use a new program quickly.

Related: 17 Skills You Need to Work in IT

Examples of computer skills

The type of computer skills your employer requires vary depending on your role and the industry. But many fundamental computer skills are transferable across industries. Learning these skills can give you a better chance at being hired or securing a promotion.

Here are nine of the best computer skills to learn:

1. Operating systems

Learning how to use an operating system, such as Windows or MacOS, is a good place to start when developing your computer skills. Employers use one of these operating systems on their computers to manage its basic functions. MacOS is typically used for creative industries and for roles like graphic design, while Windows is prominent in the corporate world.

Both operating systems function similarly, but learning the controls and features of each is important to show employers you have a basic understanding of computers. Familiarize yourself with both operating systems at your local library or by using a friend or family member's computer.

Related: What Is an Operating System? (Plus Functions and Types)

2. Productivity software

As the name suggests, productivity software helps streamline work and make completing tasks more efficient. Most employers, regardless of the industry, look for candidates with an understanding of productivity software, such as Microsoft Office. This includes computer applications like Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook. Even if the job doesn't require you to use these applications, understanding how to use them shows employers that you have basic computer skills.

Being able to use productivity software is an excellent skill to have and feature on your resume. It's transferrable across industries and positions, so it's a skill worth investing your time in.

Related: 15 Exciting Jobs in Computers to Explore for the Future 

3. Presentation software

We touched on it briefly above when mentioning Microsoft Office's PowerPoint application, but knowing how to use presentation software is an impressive skill for many industries. If you work in sales, education, marketing, training, or a related field, you will likely need to create a presentation to educate or pitch to an audience. Programs like Keynote, Google Slide, and Tableau are software you can use to create enticing and informative presentations.

4. Communication and collaboration tools

Remote work is becoming increasingly popular. Many employers have realized that you don't need to be in an office together to be productive and collaborative. Computer applications like Skype, Zoom, and Slack allow teams to keep in touch and work together wherever they are. Knowing how to use these tools efficiently is important for jobs where you telecommute, so be sure to hone these skills if you plan to work remotely.

Related: Work From Home Guide

5. Accounting software

If you work in accounting or finance, you need to learn how to use accounting software. Accounting software makes managing accounts, payments, taxes, and other financial data much easier. QuickBooks, FreshBooks, and Xero are the most popular accounting software options used in Canada.

6. Social media

Most companies have developed a social media strategy and are invested in using online channels to market their business and connect with consumers. Creating a positive online presence is so important to employers now that roles in social media management are increasingly common. If you want to work in public relations, marketing, or advertising, knowing how to use social media is vital. You should practise using social media applications like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok, either in your personal or professional life to develop this skill.

7. Cybersecurity

Since telecommuting is becoming so popular, being able to use and implement cybersecurity is an important skill in any industry, especially if you work with sensitive information. Knowing how to use software for virus protection, intrusion detection, and data encryption are impressive skills to have.

8. Computer programming

If you want to apply for a technical role, such as a software developer or programmer, you need computer programming skills. These skills give you the tools to create, launch, and test your own computer software. Coding knowledge is one of the most sought-after computer programming skills. Coding allows you to create websites, applications, and games. There are an endless supply of online and in-person courses on coding languages like Java, C++, or Python to develop this skill.

Related: 10 of the Most in-Demand Coding Languages for Your Career

9. Graphic design

Another industry-specific computer skill is graphic design. In the past, artists and designers drew everything by hand. Applications like Adobe Photoshop and InDesign have made this process much easier because you can create, enhance, and animate visual elements. Of course, graphic designers need this skill. However, they're not the only professionals who benefit from learning how to use this software. Those in marketing, photography, and other media-related fields can also benefit from developing their graphic design skills.

How to include computer skills in your application

When you're applying to new positions and looking through vacancy postings, take note of the specific computer skills employers are looking for. Highlight the ones you have and include them on your resume and cover letter to help you stand out. Here are four ways you can include computer skills in your application:

1. Resume summary

At the top of your resume, write a summary of your skills and experience that hiring managers can review quickly. This is often where they determine whether they're interested enough to read on, so make this section count. Highlight your key computer skills in your summary.

For example: "Motivated writer with five years of experience using content management systems, such as WordPress, and collaboration software, including Zoom and Trello."

Related: How to List Computer Programming Skills on Your Resume

2. Skills section

You can also include your computer skills in the skills section of your resume. This section usually includes bullet points of your relevant skills. For example:
Skills

  • Proficient with Microsoft Office and G-Suite

  • 60 words per minute typing speed

  • Advanced understanding of HTML and Javascript

3. Employment history

If you learned certain computer skills at work, include them in your employment history to show your proficiency.

For example:

ABC Writing Services. Toronto, Ontario (December 2019 to December 2020)

Editor-in-chief

  • Ghostwrote five articles per week for various clients

  • Organized writing projects with Trello and Google Calendar

  • Collaborated with colleagues on Slack and Zoom daily

4. Cover letter

The last way to include your computer skills in your job application is to mention them in your cover letter. Since you should limit your resume to one page, you don't have a lot of room to go into detail. Your cover letter is an opportunity to talk more about yourself and your skills. For example:

"Your job posting for the website designer role was intriguing because I have been a web designer for over three years. I am proficient with most coding languages, such as Python, C++, and Java. I also have in-depth graphic design knowledge and am comfortable using Adobe Photoshop."

Now that we've explored what computer skills are, why they're important, and the different types of computer skills, you'll be better prepared to include them in your job applications.

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

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