Top 9 Basic Computer Skills and Why They're Useful

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 30 November 2021

Basic computer skills are expected when you're looking for a job. In fact, according to a report by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), over 80% of jobs advertised in the UK now require some level of digital experience. Simple computer skills are one of the top things that recruiters look for in your resume. In this article, we describe the basics of computer skills, and why you need them.

What are basic computer skills?

Basic computer skills is a phrase used to describe your level of proficiency when it comes to managing tasks on a computer. These can include anything from your speed of typing to your understanding of vital tools and computer programmes such as Microsoft software.

The level of skill you need can greatly vary depending on the role you're applying for. Most recruiters list the skills they expect or that the role requires in the job description. For example, a digital marketing role may require you to have knowledge of social media platforms and how they work.

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Top 9 computer skills

Most jobs in the United Kingdom require a basic understanding of computers at the very least, while others may require more advanced knowledge in specific areas. Here are some of the basic skills you could be expected to have when applying for a new job:

The fundamentals

Most jobs may require an understanding of the fundamentals of using a computer. These include how to run it, turn it on and off and troubleshoot where necessary. It can be helpful to list whether you feel comfortable using common operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows or Apple depending on the software the company uses.

Basic internet skills

Certain roles may require you to browse the Internet and feel comfortable performing online research. It can be helpful if you know how to use a search engine, bookmarks and favourites to log common websites. An understanding of search terms, how search engines work and the concept behind a hyperlink and a URL can also be valuable.

Computer software: Microsoft Office suite and more

Most companies use Microsoft Office to run their day to day tasks, so it can be hugely beneficial if you have experience using these common tools:

  • Productivity or word processing tools like Microsoft Word for managing day to day tasks

  • Spreadsheet software such as Microsoft Excel for managing data, including formulas and charts

  • Presentation software like Microsoft Powerpoint for presenting information to team members and/or clients

  • Data storage tools such as Microsoft Access for managing large databases and volumes of data

  • Video conferencing tools such as Microsoft Teams, Meet and Zoom for connecting with team members and external partners and clients

  • Software such as Adobe Acrobat Reader for viewing and editing PDFs

Communication tools

It's helpful to have a basic understanding of email tools such as Microsoft Outlook and Gmail and to be able to use them easily. This can help when working collaboratively with colleagues internally or remotely and for communicating with external clients or partners. The ability to use your Outlook calendar to plan your day and to set and accept team meetings is another benefit.

Other communication skills include experience using instant messaging tools and video conferencing tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. More specific jobs may require you to manage email marketing platforms such as Mailchimp or Hubspot, but this is often detailed in the job description if required.

Social media

If you work in marketing or admin, the role may require a basic understanding of common platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Linkedin. This may involve day to day administrative tasks such as responding to messages and comments. It could also involve more in-depth analytical knowledge so you can track and report on results.

Back-end management

Some jobs may require you to manage information, data and content on the Content Management System (CMS). If this is the case, the job description may list WordPress, Magento, Shopify or other management tools in their skill requirements.

Often, it's easy to be trained in these platforms when you start the job, but having prior experience may be the one skill that elevates your application over another so be sure to include any relevant experience with specific tools in your resume and application.

Online storage

You may be required to save, store and access content and data online using tools like Dropbox or the company server. It can help if you feel comfortable navigating around a desktop or laptop device. Your manager may also require you to help with filing images or information in the appropriate place so having this knowledge is important.

Accounting software

If you're applying for an administrative role, bookkeeping or a role in finance, you may be responsible for managing bills, invoices and other financial aspects of the company. Having experience with accounting software such as QuickBooks can count in your favour. It's also a great skill to add to your CV.

Specialist computer skills

If you're applying for a role in Information Technology (IT), it may be necessary to have a basic understanding of programming skills and tools such as Java, HTML, Python, and more. If you're a graphic designer, you may be required to have knowledge of tools such as Photoshop and photo editing tools like Adobe InDesign or Illustrator. Make sure you're aware of the specific skill set that may be required for the position you're applying for.

Related: How Much Does a Computer Programmer Make on Average?

What is your skill level?

Before they hire you, recruiters often want to know what your level of skill is and whether it's relevant to the job you're applying for. It's important to include your updated skill set in your resume, detailing your knowledge and experience working with various tools such as Microsoft Office. This helps an employer to understand how comfortable you are using these tools. It may also give you an edge over another applicant so always shout about any relevant skills you have when you get the chance.

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4 easy ways to improve your computer skills:

If you're hoping to improve your computer skills, there are a number of ways you can boost and maximise your skill set in this area. Here are a few recommendations:

Identify areas for improvement

The first way to improve any skill set is to identify where you may need a little extra help. The best way to do this is to take a look at the job description of your ideal role and upskill yourself with the skills or tools required for the position. Another way to find out what technical skills you may need is through networking. Speak to people who work in the role you want and ask them for tips and the tools they use on a daily basis.

Keep practising

The best way to become really comfortable using new tools is to use them as often as you can. There are many free resources available online or in the community such as at the library or YMCA that you can use to teach yourself the basics. If a job description outlines a specific tool as a necessity for the role, find a way that you can gain hands-on experience using it in your day to day life.

For example, if a company uses Outlook Calendar for planning meetings, start using it to plan your daily life and to schedule events and activities. If they use Microsoft Teams for internal calls, start using the tool to call friends and family. This can help you to figure out exactly how the tool works.

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Classes or online courses

If you're not comfortable teaching yourself, you can take a class, an online tutorial or course to improve your general knowledge of computers. There is a whole host of full or part-time courses that can teach you very basic skills such as Microsoft Word, Excel formulas and much more. You can also find more advanced courses that can help you specialise in certain areas and programmes. Most of these courses provide a completion certificate or a badge that you can add to your resume and Linkedin profile.

Free basic computer skills tests

A great way to unlock your understanding of computers is to undergo training which can help you to put your knowledge and experience to the test. It can be a valuable way to discover where your strengths lie and where there may be room for improvement. Most computer tests give you a score at the end of the training programme that you can use to gauge your skill level. You can also list your score on your resume to show recruiters and give yourself an edge over your competition.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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