Resumes & Cover Letters

Basic Computer Skills: Definition and Examples

February 22, 2021

As a working professional, it's important to have a solid foundation of basic computer skills. Depending on your industry and employer, the computer skills you need will greatly vary. Understanding the various types of basic computer skills will help you to better understand what skills may be required for your field. In this article, we define the various types of basic computer skills, how to improve them and how to include them on your resume.

Related: 10 Best Skills to Include on a Resume

What are basic computer skills?

Basic computer skills refer to your ability to perform fundamental tasks on a computer. This can include understanding certain software, applications, programs, tools and more. Computer skills fall into two categories: software and hardware. Hardware refers to the computer's operation, whereas software involves the use of various programs and applications.

The type of computer skills you'll be expected to have will depend on your industry. Typically, employers specify what types of computer skills they want their employees to have in their job postings.

Related: Computer Skills: Definitions and Examples

Examples of basic computer skills

Many jobs require fundamental computer skills to perform well for that particular job. While basic computer skills include knowing how to type, understanding social media and having general web skills, there are several more to consider, such as:

  • Productivity software
  • Operating systems
  • Presentation software
  • Digital marketing
  • Computer programming
  • Graphic design
  • Communication tools
  • Database management
  • Accounting software

Productivity software

Productivity software is software that helps create information in various formats, such as documents, graphs, worksheets and presentations. Productivity tools and software help make an employee's job easier. Here are several types of productivity software:

  • Word processing software
  • Spreadsheet software
  • Presentation software
  • Email management
  • Data entry
  • Digital calendars
  • Video conferencing
  • Social media management
  • Instant messaging

When you're applying for a job, it's important to not only highlight your relevant computer skills but also your skill level. For example, rather than stating your ability to use word processing software, consider stating on your resume how you used it to benefit your previous company.

Operating systems

Operating systems are programs that help a computer run its most basic functions. This is an important skill to know since computers need an operating system to work. Typically, computers come with pre-installed operating systems. Because of this, it's important to have a general knowledge of a variety of operating systems, such as Windows. It can be helpful to use your resume and cover letter to list how particular operating systems allowed you to perform your job.

Presentation software

Presentation software refers to programs used to create slideshows made up of audio, text, photos and videos. Having general knowledge of presentation software is important for a variety of roles.

Depending on your job, you may need to create a presentation to show data analysis or make a pitch. To do so, you'll need to understand the various types of presentation software and how to use it to create a dynamic presentation. You can showcase your particular skill level for this type of software on your resume by stating how you utilized it to complete one of your tasks.

Digital marketing

Digital marketing refers to the advertising of a company's products or services using digital means. Companies use digital marketing to promote their brand and ultimately help them grow. The variety of digital marketing tools allows companies to use their preferred method of targeting their ideal audience and customer. Here are some of the types of digital marketing:

  • Email marketing
  • Digital advertising
  • Content management systems
  • Website analytics
  • Search engine optimization
  • Digital media
  • Content marketing
  • Social media marketing

You can highlight your skill level on your resume or cover letter by stating how you used your particular digital marketing skills on the job. For example, if you used social media marketing, you can describe how you used a social media platform to get your company's webpage 100,000 views, 200 shares, 300 comments and 1,500 likes. This lets hiring managers know that not only can you use digital marketing techniques, but you can use them on a greater scale to benefit the company.

Computer programming

Computer programming involves the creation, design and building of computer software and applications to perform a wide variety of tasks. To test and develop software, you'll need basic computer programming knowledge. This involves understanding software and hardware as well. Here are some basic computer programming skills:

  • HTML
  • Java
  • Operating systems
  • UI/UX
  • Python

Your resume and cover letter are great places to let hiring managers know your skills in computer programming. For example, instead of writing you know HTML, list how you specifically used it to create a webpage.

Graphic design

Graphic design is the process of creating visual content through typography, illustration and photography to convey a particular message. Under the umbrella of graphic design, there are several computer skills you can highlight on your resume, including:

  • Illustration software
  • Photoshop
  • Design software
  • Desktop publishing
  • Video creation software

You can highlight your graphic design skill level by detailing the types of software you used to meet a client's needs. The more detail you provide of how you used the graphic design software, the more hiring managers will be able to see how well you truly understand these computer skills.

Communication tools

It's important for companies to have continuous communication and collaboration with one another. Having a streamlined system in place will help ease communication, increase productivity and make the company more efficient overall. Therefore, it's highly beneficial to have knowledge of a variety of computer communication tools. Computer communication skills you can list on your resume include:

  • Instant messaging
  • Video conferencing
  • Email management applications

As you write your resume, refer to the job posting for any communication tools the company you're applying to uses. Based on this, list your relevant skills on your resume and how you've used them in your past experience.

Database management

A database is an electronic collection of data that is accessed on a computer. Databases store a variety of information, such as payroll accounts. To successfully manage data, you'll need a variety of skills, such as:

  • Spreadsheets
  • SQL
  • Data analytics

As you write your resume and cover letter, highlight your database management skill level by detailing how you use it and how you structure specific data. While many professionals may know basic database skills, it's important to set your application apart by letting hiring managers know your particular expertise in this area.

Accounting software

If you're in an accounting role, it's important to have strong computer skills related to this industry. This includes understanding how various accounting software works. Rather than simply listing your accounting software skills, detail which you specifically used and how you used it to help you excel at your job.

Describing your skill level

Employers want to know your level of comfort for each skill you list on your resume. For example, if you list your knowledge of presentation software, employers won't know whether you're a beginner or an expert in this area. As you write your resume and cover letter, detail your expertise with each of your computer skills.

Rather than simply stating your skills, give a detailed explanation of how you used the skill and how it helped you complete a task or improve your productivity. This shows employers how comfortable you are using these skills and how well you understand how to use them.

How to improve basic computer skills

Here are a few ways to improve your basic computer skills:

  1. Take classes. One great way to improve your basic computer skills is to take classes in the area you wish to improve. For example, if you want to understand digital marketing better, consider taking an online class on the subject.

  2. Understand how computers work. Before you improve your skills, it's important to understand how computers work in general. Learning the fundamentals of computers can give you foundational knowledge to build upon. You can also consider taking a class in this area.

  3. Get practical experience. To improve your computer skills, it's important to apply what you know. If you're interviewing for a job where you'll need to use a specific email management system, take the time to learn how to use it beforehand.

Related: How to Develop Your Skill Set to Advance Your Career

Basic computer skills in the workplace

If your job requires you to work with computers, it's important that you're able to use them effectively. Here are some ways to ensure you're using your computer skills effectively no matter your industry:

  • Be patient. As you improve your skills and use them in the workplace, it's important to be patient. The more practice you get, the more mastery of the skill you'll display later on.

  • Ask for help. If you need to use a computer skill that you don't have a lot of experience in, don't be afraid to ask questions. Consider asking a colleague who has more experience with the skill to assist you in understanding it.

  • Stay focused. If you're learning a new computer skill, it's important to stay focused while you use it. The more focused you are, the more time and experience you'll gain using this particular skill. This will help you be more productive and efficient with your work.

How to highlight basic computer skills

When you're applying for a job, it's important to show hiring managers how you qualify for the role by highlighting your relevant skills. This can be done on your resume, cover letter and during the job interview.

Basic computer skills for a resume

When you write your resume, it's important to highlight your computer skills as they pertain to the role you're applying for. Refer to the job posting and select the most relevant computer skills for the position, and include those on your resume. You can mention them as you detail your past work experience in your experience section or include them in a separate skills section toward the bottom of your resume.

Basic computer skills for a cover letter

Your cover letter is a great opportunity to expand on the skills you mentioned in your resume. For example, you can detail how your specific computer skills helped you perform certain job duties and made you a better employee overall. Ultimately, you want to show the hiring manager how much your computer skills helped in prior positions.

Basic computer skills for the job interview

A job interview is an excellent opportunity to explain your skills in detail. For example, if a hiring manager asks about your comfort level with Microsoft Excel, you can explain times you've used different functions like VLOOKUP or created macros. Demonstrating your experience in certain basic computer skills can give employers a clear idea of your proficiency.

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