Computer Savvy? What you need to get a job!

IMG_1159Job Stickiness #3
a series to help you keep jobs or tips to make you sticky in the next one.

Recently, my colleague, Dawn Bugni wrote two posts that both touched on the computer skills that job postings often require. In her first post, Ya But, Dawn said, “I spend a good deal of time on the phone speaking with potential clients. During those conversations, I generally offer a bit of guidance to help the caller, whether they use my services or not. Sometimes they get it. Sometimes, they “ya, but…” themselves right out of an opportunity for greatness.”

One of her Ya, buts was this:

You really need basic computer skills to compete in today’s market.
Ya, but …
I never really needed to know how to use a computer in my last job.
I don’t have time to go to school.
I’ve tried. I just don’t get it.

Dawn followed that post with Basic Computer Skills, please define in response to a Facebook readers question. She gives pointers on what she defines as basic, like: “This would include, for example, knowing how to send and receive emails, as well as attach documents to an email and open them when attached. It also includes an ability to know how to copy and paste information and use the Web for research.” Go read her post for more of her suggestions.

Her posts resonated with me because my clients have had the same concerns and same Ya Buts for years. Here’s some of my thoughts on this.

You really need a computer in today’s job search.

Laptop prices have dropped considerably in the last few years. I would consider a laptop over a desktop for today’s job seeker for a number of reasons. A laptop is portable. It can go with you anywhere, letting you work in coffee shops or hotel rooms and keep your figure on the pulse of your job search. A laptop lets you take notes after an interview in the car or even give a presentation in the interview using PowerPoint. You can network using LinkedIn on your laptop.

Microsoft Word at the minimal must be on the computer.

Why? Most resumes are created in MS Word and it is still the most popular software in your hiring manager’s office. I have had clients who don’t know what is on their computer or assume MS Office is standard issue. It is not. Often they have confused it with MS Works which is not compatible with MS Word and then they wonder why their new resume doesn’t open for them. Or worse, they open it in Notepad and wonder where all the formating went.

As Dawn says, you need to know the basics about word processing for today’s job search. You need to know enough that your perfectly formatted resume has to be converted to a text resume for many of the online applications. The text resume (ASCII), however,  should be opened in Notepad.

Your typing speed should be fast enough to meet the basic office requirements. Many staffing agencies such as Kelly Services and even prospective employers test candidates on typing / keyboarding speed and accuracy. Recently, I had a client ask about that. Her ya but was that she used a laptop and was too slow. I use a laptop too but I use an additional cordless keyboard and mouse. I encouraged her to invest in a set for herself and then find one of the online keyboarding games and practice so she could boost her speed for the next time she takes a test at a company

If you spend a little time and perhaps a little money investing in technology, you will be much more able to handle the challenges of today’s job search. Any other suggestions on how to be computer savvy?

Talk to me, I talk back!


  1. Andrew on February 1, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    One of the biggest ironies of my life is that my “day job” does not involve using a computer very much except for ordering materials or supplies. It happens when I get home.

    I have e-mail contacts with various groups both in church and community. Also being a photographer, I am trained to use photo-editing software. The whole thing that got me into using a computer initially with a laptop was the need for e-mail and the internet for contact with publishers. I owe that to Kristen McClarty who was working for National Geographic Adventure at the time.

  2. Mohammed on February 1, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Typing speed is not somthing important in my opinion!

  3. Melissa on February 2, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Hi Julie,

    Totally agree with you about the need for a laptop! Definitely much more flexibility for job seekers.

    I just wanted to give you a couple of free ideas for job seekers who may not have the money to purchase MS Word (especially after springing for a computer):

    -Documents created on MS Works can be saved as MS Word documents. Instead of hitting the “Save” icon, you go under File/Save As, and a box pops up where you type the name of the document and then can select the format in a drop-down box labeled “Save As Type.” Among the choices are .doc or .docx (Word 2007).

    -OpenOffice is a freeware that can be downloaded from It has the same capabilities of creating the document in their program, but you can save it as a Word document.

    Hope this helps some job seekers save a few dollars!
    .-= Melissa´s last blog ..Being Prepared for the Unexpected =-.

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Julie Walraven

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