Practical Advice for May Graduates: Improve Your Computer Skills

It is graduation season! Have you been wondering what to say to that new graduate venturing out to college or the working world?  After “congratulations” and before “don’t do something stupid to ruin your life”, give that graduate one very practical piece of advice: take some software training. Here is why you should pick up your computer this summer.11796949_s

Your software skills will help you stand out against other candidates. It is 2016 and the competition for a new job is high.  I got my first job out of school as a contractor making $75/hr simply because someone saw SPSS on my resume, needed someone to process survey data, and had no clue how use SPSS. Here is a more detailed list of which software skills you may want to improve: http://www.careertoolbelt.com/computer-skills-that-will-help-you-get-hired/

You will have to use several common software technologies once you find a job.  You may have to do some homework to research what software is used in your industry and job function. Almost everyone uses Microsoft Office but more people are moving toward iWork and Google Docs. Do you know how to do important things with the software you need to do your job? Examples: How do you send a calendar invite on each platform? How do you make a chart or a scorecard? How do you create a template for your letter? The more functions and uses you know, the better.  Employers will expect this basic knowledge on day one. For the work we do with our clients, we have a lot of programs we need to know how to use.  A few examples include: Survey Monkey, SharePoint, Box, Dropbox, Salesforce, Marketo, Hootsuite, Adobe Analytics, Google Analytics, WordPress, etc.   Search online for training videos and you will find it easier than ever to learn “how to” tips quickly.

You will be more productive. Don’t repeatedly change fonts and color. Use a format painter tool. Stop hitting return to get to the next page. Learn to insert page breaks. Stop copy and pasting rows and columns and doing manual calculations in your spreadsheets. Use formulas and pivot tables.  There are a million time-saving tips you can learn in order to turn your work around faster and impress others. I recently ran into a data issue in Excel with poorly exported survey data from a mobile survey. Two people said it would take eight hours to clean up the data.  I did it in one hour with a complex formula that references three columns to put data into a separate worksheet to form a new table (=iferror formula if you are curious).

Do you have a story of how a specific software program helped you land a job or a time saving tip for others? Please share in the comments below.

Stephanie Vanterpool, Sr. Project Manager