There was a time when typing was a relatively rare skill that warranted inclusion on your resume. Nowadays, with students learning how to code in school and high personal computer ownership rates, it's generally assumed that most job applicants — especially those on the younger side — will know how to type.
Instead of wasting valuable resume space on tech skills that won't add value, you should only include computer skills that will help you stand out as a candidate. What exactly those skills are will vary a bit between industries. Read on to learn about some computer skills that are broadly useful across industries and which ones you should consider including on your resume if you have them.
What are computer skills?
As their name implies, "computer skills" are professional skills that involve the use of a computer. There are two types of computer skills: hardware and software.
Hardware computer skills might involve assembling, fixing or upgrading computers. Unless you're an IT professional, you might not have hardware skills.
Software skills, on the other hand, are something that most professionals have to some degree. They involve using computer programs and applications. As previously discussed, at a minimum, most people today have some degree of word processing skills. Software skills also include specific technical knowledge, such as programming, familiarity with less common applications (for example, a graphic designer is likely to be familiar with industry-specific programs for design) or specific skills involving the use of a computer.
What computer skills should I put on my resume?
Broadly speaking, you should put computer skills that will be of interest to a potential hiring manager on your resume. This means that skills that are assumed (such as typing) shouldn't make it into your resume. On the other hand, industry-specific programs (like Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom for a photographer) or particularly valuable skills should be on your resume. Even if it's generally assumed that people in your industry will have those skills, it's still important for a prospective employer to know that you have them.
Some computer skills are useful across a number of industries, so many people will want to consider putting them on their resumes. These are some of those skills.
1. Microsoft Excel.
Many industries use spreadsheets in some capacity for processing data. Including your familiarity with this program is likely to serve you well.
2. Microsoft PowerPoint.
Like Excel, PowerPoint is useful across a range of industries and job functions. If you’re comfortable with this program, you’ll want it on your resume. If you're comfortable with the full Microsoft suite (including Excel, PowerPoint and Word), you could consider summarizing that skill as "Microsoft Suite" instead of listing individual programs).
3. G Suite.
The Google Suite — Docs, Sheets, Forms, Slides and more — is becoming increasingly common in office settings. This is especially true for remote work, as many distributed teams love G Suite’s robust support for collaboration. If you’re comfortable working with G Suite tools, it’s worth adding this to your resume.
4. Social media.
Even if they’re not social media companies, many employers will appreciate having someone who’s social media-savvy in their organization. If you’re a Twitter champ or Instagram genius, prospective employees will want to know it.
5. Social media analytics.
If you’re not only good with social media but also comfortable using both native and third-party analytics tools to assess social media channels’ performance, this information should also make it into your resume.
You’d be surprised by the number of industries and job functions in which some Photoshop knowledge can be useful. Being able to manipulate images in Photoshop can be useful in many different situations — so including this potentially very useful skill can give your resume a big boost.
Because Wordpress is one of the most common blog and website tools, many employers would be thrilled to have someone who’s comfortable with it on their teams. Even if your experience is limited to having your own Wordpress blog and feeling comfortable working with it, you should include this skill in your resume (if that's the case, though, be sure not to overstate your Wordpress skills).
If you have programming skills, you should include them on your resume. Even if you won’t use them in the role you’re applying to on a day-to-day basis, knowledge of things like C++ or Java can be surprisingly useful. As another bonus, programming knowledge can also help demonstrate analytical thinking ability to a prospective employer.
9. Industry-specific software.
If there are industry-specific programs that most people in your industry should know, you should include your knowledge of these skills in your resume. For example, a videographer should list the video editing software they’re familiar with and an accountant should list the bookkeeping tools they use. Including your knowledge of industry-specific software tells a hiring manager that you can use the necessary tools to do the job you’re applying to.
10. SEO marketing.
Search engine optimization is important for many businesses, especially those reliant on new customers finding them via web searches. If you have this skill, many employers will appreciate knowing that you have it, as you'll be able to contribute to improving their website and search engine rankings.
11. Collaboration and communication tools
As more and more offices rely on collaboration tools to ensure teams across time zones and geographic areas stay on the same page, it's important for prospective employers to know if you're comfortable using common collaboration and communication tools, such as Slack, Asana, Trello and Skype.
12. Data visualization/data analysis
Many roles will want some level of comfort with data visualization and analysis using tools like Tableau, Power BI or similar tools. If you have these skills, you should be sure to include them on your resume.
How do you describe your level of computer skills?
Describing your relative level of comfort with different software is useful as a way to help prospective employers accurately understand how good you are in those programs. Describing yourself as in the process of learning, proficient in or expert in a program is a good way to help make this distinction. You could also say you have basic, intermediate or advanced skills in specific programs.
Alternatively, if you have any proficiency test results or certifications in specific programs, those are also a good way to illustrate your level of skill in such programs. Including impressive test results on your resume will help prove your proficiency in the programs or skills you're certified in.
1. Be honest about your technical knowledge and skill level,
As with all other elements of your resume, you never want to lie about the technical skills you do or don't have. If you're applying for a job that requires specific computer skills you don't have, you should never, ever lie and say that you have them if you don't. Instead, you should consider taking some time to take online classes or training in those specific programs so you can honestly say that you have those desired computer skills.
2. Stay up to date on the tools in your industry.
With how rapidly technology is evolving, there are always new programs to be learned in any industry. Staying abreast of these developments will ensure that you stay current on the requirements of your field and that your skillset stays relevant to your employer.
3. Display your skillset strategically.
If you have a broad range of computer skills, you should try to be strategic about how you represent them in your resume. Rather than randomly scattering them in your skills section, you might consider categorizing them, listing them by proficiency or picking and choosing between them for different types of jobs.
As an example, an administrative assistant might list their computer skills by the following categories: collaboration and communication tools, accounting applications, payroll applications and operating systems.
4. Offer examples of how you've used your computer skills in your experience section.
In addition to listing your computer skills in the skills section of your resume, it can also be helpful to give employers a sense of how you've used them in actual work contexts. So, for example, a consultant might say that they used PowerPoint to create client decks, Excel to analyze data and Slack to collaborate with teams across three different timezones.
5. Be prepared to answer questions about your computer skills during the interview.
Don't be surprised if a prospective employer wants to hear about your computer skills during an interview and if they have in-depth questions about the programs you're familiar with. With this in mind, prepare to answer questions about your level of experience with the tools you've listed on your resume and have a few examples of times you've used them at work on hand to illustrate your mastery of them.