Technical skills in the workplace
When you have technical skills, you can perform more specialized, particular tasks. When employers are looking to fill a highly technical role, these specific abilities can set you apart from other candidates. By showing that you have the knowledge and experience in a niche area, you can improve your chances of a job offer. Here we answer, 'What are technical skills?' and provide a series of examples.
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What are technical skills?
Technical skills are the abilities and experience you need to perform a particular job. They most often fall under the category of hard skills. With technical skills, you often need to receive training and get a lot of practice to be proficient at them. You typically need to be intentional about developing your technical skills. These differ from soft skills, which are characteristics that help you succeed professionally (think public-speaking, problem-solving, or communication).
Learn more: How to Get a Job at Microsoft
Types of technical skills
These are common technical skills employers look for:
Administrative skills can be helpful for many different office jobs. Although employers may specifically look for receptionists or office managers with these skills, your average office employee can benefit from such technical skills. Here are common technical administrative skills you may want to work on:
- Information management
- Interoffice communication programs (Slack, Skype, Zoom)
Coding and programming
Whether you want to be a software engineer or a web developer, having an extensive knowledge of coding and programming is crucial for these technical roles. Employers looking for candidates to fill such roles want someone who already has a knowledge of various coding languages and programs. Those looking for these types of roles need a working knowledge of the following coding languages:
Learn more: How to Get a Job as a Software Engineer
When working in a technical career, you need to be a whiz on the computer. Along with knowing how to navigate a computer, you need to have a knowledge of different computer programs. Your level of computer skills can range from simply knowing how to use a computer all the way to writing your own software. Employers may look for candidates who are knowledgeable about or can do the following things:
- Google Suite
- Microsoft Office
- Social media
Common careers in digital media include video production, graphic design, and even audio editing. All of these careers require you to have a blend of creativity and technical skills. When going into a career in digital media, you may need to learn the following skills:
- Adobe Suite
- Color theory
- Digital photography
- File compression
- UX design
Although marketers need to be creative, they also need to know how to look at data and implement different campaigns. A big part of marketing is analyzing your results and making meaningful decisions based on them. Likewise, tasks like posting an ad on social media or creating a PPC campaign requires a technical knowledge of advertising. Here are common marketing tasks that you can consider technical skills:
- Automated marketing software
- Content creation
- Content management systems (CMS)
- Data analysis
- Email marketing
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Social media ads
- Technical writing
A quality project manager needs many soft skills, such as organization, decision-making, and problem-solving. They also need to be highly knowledgeable about more technical things, like project management software and measuring progress. If you want to go into project management, develop these technical skills:
- Budget planning
- Project planning
- Project management tools (Asana, Podio, Trello)
- Quality assurance
- Risk management
Tips for improving your technical skills
Improve your technical skills with these tips:
- Take college courses. If you plan on having a technical career, then make sure you pick a degree that has courses where you’ll learn technical skills. When going into a specific trade, it often makes more sense to go to a technical college rather than a four-year university. Along with learning theory, you’ll want courses that give you hands-on experience.
- Look for apprenticeships. Many technical careers encourage people just starting out to get an apprenticeship. Many apprenticeships give you the opportunity to learn on the job while also making money. Oftentimes, the best way to learn is by doing, so real-world experience may help you develop your skills faster.
- Find online resources. If you want to learn one particular skill, look to the internet to find the educational resources you need. Online tutorials, certifications, quizzes, videos, blogs, and forums are all excellent resources to use.
- Seek mentorship. Having someone actually show you how to do a particular task is a great way to learn. Ask someone experienced in your field to become your mentor. Along with learning technical skills through them, they might offer you useful life and career advice.
- Learn from your mistakes. Most technical tasks take a lot of trial and error. Instead of erasing your mistakes right away, take a moment to figure out why you made this mistake in the first place. This can help you be more thoughtful about your processes and do the task correctly next time. Remember, making mistakes is a part of the learning process, so be patient. In time, it’s likely that you’ll become more comfortable with this skill.
- Stay up to date on industry trends. Many technical careers are rapidly evolving. In order to continue to be a hirable candidate, you need to keep up with the times. For instance, if you started in computer science 20 years ago, your skill set would need to evolve over this time to keep up with new technology. Continue your education through on-the-job training and enrolling in courses. Also, reading industry blogs and publications can help you decide what areas to focus on.