Becoming computer literate
Those who are computer literate have the ability to perform basic tasks on the computer. This may include navigating a browser, operating software systems, and completing any other tasks that make it possible to do your job. When hiring candidates, employers are looking for someone who can pick up such tasks easily. That's why we're sharing how you can improve your computer literacy skills.
Why is being computer literate important?
Being computer literate is important for the following reasons:
- Computers used in most jobs: Many jobs require you to use a computer in some capacity. If you plan to work in an office, it is likely that you’ll do most of your work on the computer. Other roles may require you to use a computer for at least some portion of your workday.
- Improved efficiency: When you have an aptitude for computer systems, this can give you a solid foundation for more advanced programs. By being a quick learner, you to dive into your work and become more productive.
- Necessary for communication: In many roles, you may find that much of your communication is digital. Whether it be email, Slack, or another kind of messenger, being computer literate means that you know how to use these tools to effectively communicate with others.
- Less time training: If you already know your way around a computer and common software systems, starting a new job will be much easier. Rather than spending time teaching you basic controls and functions, your manager can help you progress to more complex tasks.
Learn more: 3 Strategies To Become A More Coachable Employee
Top computer literacy skills
Here are some examples of computer literacy skills:
Basic computer functions
These are skills that any computer beginner is familiar with. Knowing how to type, navigate a browser, or open your files all fall under these types of skills. Likewise, basic keyboard commands like cut, copy, and paste are all useful to know. When learning such skills, keep in mind that they slightly differ on a PC versus a Mac. Since many employers vary in which operating system they use, consider getting familiar with both.
Microsoft Office or Google Suite
Both Microsoft and Google offer a word processor, spreadsheet program, presentation builder, and other basic office software. Since many employers use one or both of these software packages, you’re going to want to have at least a general understanding of how to use them. Luckily, both companies offer many resources on how to use their software programs.
Learn more: How to Get a Job at Google
If your job requires any level of research, you’re going to need to familiarize yourself with major search engines like Google or Bing. Knowing how to use keywords to find relevant information is a big part of having this skill. You also need to know how to find reputable sources and know when to avoid certain websites. For example, Wikipedia is helpful when trying to find out certain information, however, you wouldn’t want to use it as a cited source since it has public contributors.
As more brands use social media to connect with consumers, clients, and other companies, you need to have an idea of how to use the major platforms. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter are the main ones to know. You may also want to explore other popular websites, like YouTube, Reddit, and Pinterest. By knowing how to use these websites, you can stay more current and build meaningful connections.
Using the computer to communicate with your colleagues and clients is a normal part of many positions. Being savvy with email, Slack, and other messaging platforms will help you be a better communicator at work. Since many of these platforms have a variety of tools, you need to learn by actually using them. For instance, play around with email to learn how to attach files or send links. When learning communication programs, be aware of different scams out there. Someone who has computer literacy skills can detect malware or a shady email attachment.
Learn more: How to Network
Knowing how to connect your computer to WiFi or a computer network is a basic computer skill. Learning how to troubleshoot common computer problems, such as connectivity issues, shows that you have some sort of computer expertise. This is crucial when applying to an information technology position. Knowing how to solve basic computer programs is helpful in any role as it saves you time, allowing you to be more productive.
How to become more computer literate
Follow these steps to improve your computer literacy skills:
Try them out
The number-one way to improve your computer skills is by trying them out. Start exploring different software programs and websites you’ll be using in your career. Start out with the skills you already know and build upon them. The more you practice, the more confident you will feel trying new tasks.
Use online resources
There are plenty of resources you can find online when learning a new skill. Forums, articles, video tutorials, how-to guides, and eBooks are all great assets. Since the internet and computer programs are always changing, try to find resources that are only a year or two old. You want to ensure that you are following today’s best practices instead of outdated advice. If you’re unsure where to begin, ask your friends, family members, or coworkers for their favorite resources.
Learn more: How to Succeed in Your New Job
Take a course
When trying to learn a more complex computer skill, enroll in an educational course. You may be able to find them online or through your local college. Look for courses that use hands-on learning. While quizzes and tests are helpful in assessing your knowledge, projects can help you build your skills and prove that you know what you’re doing.