Improving Your Computer Literacy: What You Need to Know

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated August 5, 2022 | Published December 12, 2019

Updated August 5, 2022

Published December 12, 2019

GettyImages-531372491 2 optimized

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A person with coffee in hand and headphones around their neck reads from their laptop screen. Their coworkers nearby work from a desktop computer setup.

Hiring managers want candidates that are computer literate. Having basic computer literacy skills makes it easier to complete everyday assignments and tasks and increases productivity.

In this article, we take a look at what computer literacy is and why it’s an important skill set to have, plus we review computer literacy skills and the steps you can take to become more computer literate.

What is computer literacy?

Computer literacy is the level of expertise you have to use computers and related technology efficiently. Skill levels can range from having the basic knowledge of how to use a computer to performing tasks such as operating common software systems, platforms and computer programs to having some understanding of computer programming.

The term is always evolving based on the latest advancements in computer technology.

Related: How To Say You're Good With Computers on Your Resume

Why is computer literacy important?

There are several reasons its important to have a basic understanding of computers:

  • Computers are everywhere: Almost every workplace requires computers to complete at least a small portion of daily tasks. 

  • Foundational value: Having a foundational understanding of computers makes it easier to learn more advanced concepts and programs, as needed by a company. This results in less time spent by supervisors in training employees in company software and platform applications.

  • Efficiency and productivity: Computer literacy helps enhance efficiency, workflow and overall experience within the workplace. Employees can produce more in a shorter amount of time, freeing up resources to do more.

  • Streamlined communication: Being computer literate may also make it easier to work with customers or clients because it streamlines communication. Employees can easily connect with clients via email to share documents and important resources.

Related: Technical Skills: Definitions and Examples 

Examples of computer literacy skills

Preferred computer literacy skills can often vary depending on your workplace and role. Some companies may expect you to operate a computer during the entire day, while others may require less computer usage. Here are some examples of computer literacy skills that may be used in your workplace:

Basic computer skills 

If it’s your first experience in an office role and you haven’t worked with technology in the past, start with basic computer skills. This may include typing, powering a computer on and off, learning keyboard commands and knowing how to connect and disconnect your computer. Educating yourself on these basic computer skills can prepare you for hands-on computer demands in the workplace.

Related: 10 Computer Software Examples (Plus Definition and FAQs)

Social media and search engines 

Most companies’ marketing departments use social media to post updates about their company, services and that of their clients. You may be asked to help your company build awareness through liking, sharing or commenting on its social campaigns.

Social media can also help you better connect with industry leaders and experts to build your professional network. Even more crucial to your workplace value is your ability to search for information online. In most work environments, you’ll find that you have questions that can be answered quickly by entering them in a search engine.

Learning how to search for specific subjects can help enhance your knowledge of well, everything. More specifically, it can keep you apprised of your industry and applicable trending topics.

Related: 10 Types of Social Media To Promote Your Brand

Microsoft Office or GSuite

Depending on your role, supervisors and team members may expect you to type memos, build reports, track data or give presentations. You can complete these tasks using Microsoft Office or GSuite programs. Here are the common programs and how you can use them in the office: 

Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Slides

If your position requires presenting ideas or strategies, you will likely be expected to present on a slideshow. A computer-literate employee will know how to upload images and text to slides, create graphs or charts and transition each slide from one to the next. 

Microsoft Word or Google Docs

If you hold a basic office position, you will likely need to type memos or project plans. You can complete this using Microsoft Word or Google Docs. You’ll use basic typing skills to use this program. Saving, attaching and sending files is often associated with using this platform as well.

Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets

If your position involves tracking or analyzing data, you will need to use spreadsheets. Using a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet can vary from basic number inputting to complex formulas. Practicing and researching different formulas may help accurately track your data in Excel. 

Email and other communication programs 

Communication is a vital part of most workplaces. In most office environments today, employees relay information through in-person discussions, as well as through email and online messaging platforms. A computer-literate professional should know popular email platforms (such as Gmail and Outlook) and be familiar with online messaging systems (Slack).

Payroll systems 

In many workplaces, payroll has gone digital. This means employee hours and payment documents are stored online. With the assistance of your HR manager, you may need to learn how to access this payroll system to retrieve necessary documents, clock in and out of shifts, and set up direct deposit payments.

Networking diagnosis and troubleshooting

In an office environment, issues can often occur with your computer that don’t always require a call to IT. With basic computer literacy skills, you can diagnose and fix simple computer issues on your own.

For example, if your computer is showing network or connection errors, you may need to find your IP address, verify you’re connected to the network and attempt to reconnect.

Related: 21 Small Business Tools for Any Industry

How to improve your computer literacy

Hiring managers often prefer to hire employees who have strong computer literacy skills. Here’s how to develop and enhance your computer skills to become a more valuable employee and job candidate:

1. Search for answers online

If you get stumped or confused by a computer program, search online. You’re likely not the only person to have encountered the issue. Often, there are many step-by-step articles online that will help you resolve the problem easily.

Related: 20 Ways You Can Learn To Code

2. Practice what you know

A great way to enhance your current computer skills is to practice them regularly. The more you use what you already know, the easier it becomes to perform these tasks often. Once you’ve become more confident in these current skills, learning new computer skills will become easier and less intimidating.

3. Enroll in educational courses

If you want to learn specific software systems or skills and can’t find the info online, enroll in those educational courses in person or as a part of an online curriculum. Not only will you achieve a better, implementable knowledge of these computer skills and software; but you will also likely have an instructor on-hand to field questions you might have.

Related: 34 Online Training Programs To Advance Your Career

4. Reach out to leadership

When you find a computer skill or program you want to learn but don’t have the resources, talk to the leadership in your office. Your supervisor or HR manager may be able to connect you with the tools to help you learn more, such as workshops, specialized training, and conferences.

Also, there may be other employees in the office who have the same interest. Ask around. Leadership might be more willing to pay for these kinds of resources if they know there is a general need for them.

Related: The Importance of Training Employees: 11 Benefits

How to highlight computer literacy skills

As you search for positions, you’ll notice hiring managers list specific skills in the job description. Evaluate the skills needed and include each of these in your resume, if applicable. List them in your experience as well as in the summary or objective.

By showcasing your computer literacy in prominent areas of your resume, you show that your computer skills are not only a feature of your experience; but also, how they were applied toward successful task completion.

Here’s an example of highlighting computer literacy skills in the summary:

“Collaborative and efficient business administrator who combines both analytical and communication skills to provide unique marketing strategies. Utilizes Microsoft PowerPoint and Excel to craft presentations on customer data to build new and effective marketing campaigns.”

Here’s an example of mentioning computer literacy skills in your work history:

“Track customer data and maintain regular communication with customers using CRM software systems such as Salesforce and MailChimp.”

Related: Top Resume Skills

Learn more about what hard skills and soft skills to put on a resume so it stands out from the others.

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

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