Jan 17, 2019

Learning Computers: Basic Skills

Today, knowing how to operate a computer is a standard skill that many employers expect. Many of your interactions with the world happen through computers and similar devices, whether it's for personal or business reasons. You send and receive daily emails. You log on to the Internet to check various social media platforms. You may use specific computer programs depending on your line work.

If you aren't familiar with how to use a computer and haven't learned basic computer skills, then don't worry. You're not alone, and you can find many basic computer skills classes both in person and online. Using a computer doesn't require a special degree, and you can always find computer video tutorials to reference.

What Are Some Basic Computer Skills?

Many employers ask that you have basic computer skills, even if you're applying for a job that doesn't demand you work with a computer. Not only can having these basic computer skills improve your odds of getting a job offer, but they also can make your life easier if you know when to use them. These are some of the necessities:

  • Email: Navigating emails is important for communication within a company and with clients and contractors. There's a wide variety of popular email platforms, and your company may require you to have a separate work-related email address to keep things organized and separate from your personal life. Email is also useful for keeping records of conversations.
  • Troubleshooting: Employers want individuals who can be self sufficient. Therefore, it's important to know what resources you can access on the computer if you don't know something. Know how to navigate search engines, and learn some simple tricks that can make your search more specific and time efficient. For example, it takes seconds to find a word on a webpage using the Command+F function rather than the five minutes it takes to read that page and find the word.
  • Word Processing: Simple writing and grammar skills are important, but knowing how to format a document on a computer's word-processing program is just as important. Your employer may ask you to create a document, which involves knowing how to perform a spellcheck, add headers and footers, insert elements like page numbers, and do simple formatting. If you don't know how to do something, many word-processing programs have a FAQ or help section along with web support.
  • Spreadsheets: Many employers expect employees to have a rudimentary understanding of how to use a spreadsheet, whether it's for accounting purpose or keeping a log of your hours worked. You can find no shortage of courses and free tutorials available to teach you how to effectively use a spreadsheet.
  • Job-Specific Skills: Employers may ask that you be proficient at specific computer programs or take courses on a specific subject. Don't be shy to ask what employers are looking for in a candidate; it demonstrates that you're proactive and take the initiative to be prepared.

There are lots of resources available to learn the computer skills you need, including offerings in the Udacity Catalog. Remember that learning how to use a computer can be like learning a new language. Be patient with yourself, and remember that many employers are willing and expecting to teach you some computer skills when you start a new job with them. If you're looking to get more advanced computer training in a specific area, then consider the Udacity Nanodegree program.