Computer Literacy: Getting Ahead in the Job Market

With the growth of technology and its integration in the workplace, it has become crucial for people to have a certain level of computer knowledge. Computer literacy, or basic understanding of how computers (both hardware and software) and the internet (including online software) operate, is a skill that the younger generation often takes for granted. Developing computer knowledge and understanding, however, can prove to be a key skill that ensures success in the workforce.

Workforce Expectations

A computer and the internet can serve as helpful resources during a job application. It is hard to deny that the internet has become one of the main sources of news and information in the 21st century. It allows you to take advantage of different aspects of the job application process, from looking through job postings, to learning more about your job’s tasks and salary, as well as getting useful resume and interview tips. A computer or mobile device with internet access is a great communication resource that can be utilized in every organization. When applying for a position, one is often expected to have basic computer skills. These skills range from knowing how to navigate email and messaging services, knowing how operate online or desktop software and applications, and even having a basic understanding of social media and its uses. Moreover, it may be critical for employees to be able to adjust to the use of different tools if the organization chooses to switch from one software to another. As Heather Blanchard, the Talent Acquisition Specialist at Ashton College, puts it:

“Employees should be comfortable enough with technology to be able to adapt to a new computer system or use different apps and software. If the programs the organization are relying on change, the employees have to be able to adjust. To do that, they need to have sufficient computer literacy and critical skills and know how to use software effectively.”

Learn to Stand Out

As more workplaces use different desktop and online tools, more so are employees expected to understand the fundamentals of computer and internet use. To really stand out, the expectation is to know the basics and to have more extensive knowledge of the available tools. According to Blanchard,

“having computer or online software knowledge on a resume is always a plus. You have to be able to use a computer for almost any position in any organization nowadays, so it always helps to have proficient computer knowledge. Advanced knowledge, on the other hand, is most definitely an advantage for candidates.”

With intermediate or advanced technology skills, you have more opportunities available. For instance, you will have more success starting your own accounting business or firm if you learn more advanced features of QuickBooks or Sage accounting software. The benefits of knowing how to use different software include saving time, reducing repetitive action, automating certain processes and avoiding mistakes in counting, summarizing and reporting. Having applicable and valuable computer skills can give you a significant edge among other applicants and make your application more competitive.

Use Tools Wisely

Here are examples of key tools that can help you stand out in the workforce:

  • Search Engines: Although using search engines is common practice, understanding how to use them effectively is a crucial skill. Understanding which search results are relevant to what you are looking for, or how to modify the search, to the use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) successfully, can take you a long way. This is especially useful in marketing and HR professions; however, these skills are highly valued in any organization with an online presence.
  • Microsoft Office: Applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint are widely used in business world-wide. It is one thing to know how to use the software, but that is completely different from being truly efficient with it. For example, there are various different shortcuts and options that can help you create a more sophisticated PowerPoint presentation. Knowing how to use formulas in Excel can also simplify a lot of bookkeeping and organizational tasks allowing you to work faster and more effectively.
  • Social Media: The use of social media is becoming increasingly more important in creating and developing a brand’s image and sharing valuable information for the brand’s organization. Advanced social media skills can put you in the competitive ranks for many different positions.

About the Authors

Alex Nikotina: Alex is a Digital Brand Experience Assistant at Ashton College in Vancouver, BC. Originally from Russia, Alex loves to travel and experience new countries, having previously spent time in Japan before moving to Canada.

Heather Blanchard: Heather is a graduate of Ashton’s Diploma in Human Resources Management program and currently the Talent Acquisition Specialist at Ashton College. Heather is passionate about recruitment and the challenge of hiring in the academic world.

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