Soon, most employers and employees will not know of a time when computers were not ubiquitous at work. The “Computer Skills” section of the résumé may be obsolete when that time comes. Computer literacy, like language literacy—reading and writing—will be assumed even if this is not stated on the résumé. For the time being, though, I recommend that many job candidates continue to explicitly list computer skills. In fact, if you are pursuing information technology (I.T.) jobs, listing computer skills on your résumé is essential.
Employers may not Assume you Have Computer and Technical Skills.
There are probably not many jobs where some level of computer proficiency is either helpful or required. We have all seen delivery people scan packages when they reach their destination. Mailroom, shipping, and receiving workers have to use Web sites to track packages and freight. Medical professionals fill in automated charts when we go to the doctor, instead of scribbling on note cards.
Some of my clients insist they are computer-illiterate, then answer their smartphone. Their smartphone includes a computer—some would say it is a computer—so you’ve used a computer whenever you’ve used a modern smartphone.
There may still be job candidates that have not “gotten with the program,” and gained computer sills, so listing the software and hardware you use on the job may still differentiate you from other job applicants.
Include Skills you use at Work.
List the computer software you can demonstrate an ability to use at the job. Most offices now seem to have a computer on every desk, or a laptop assigned to every employee, so it is relatively easy for hiring managers to ask that you demonstrate your computer skills. About 20 years ago, we could list any computer skills we wanted to include on the résumé, then figure out how to use the software on the job. All our co-workers were figuring out how to use the computer too, so this worked for many of us.
The best practice is to list the Microsoft Office programs you use regularly, then list the specialized software you use in your industry and function, such as specialized graphics or CAD/CAM programs. Do not include recreational software you use at home unless it is relevant to your job.
Exclude Obsolete Skills and Irrelevant Skills.
Drop outdated software packages and programs from your résumé. I learned FORTRAN IV at school in the 1970’s and used COBOL briefly at work in the 80’s but neither of these programming languages are on my résumé now. The first computers I used at work used MS-DOS, and WordPerfect 5.1, but I would not include any of these programs or operating systems, either. Hiring manages will either not recognize the software, or figure out how old you are, so it is not to your advantage to list outdated software.
The only “old” skill you may want to list is your keyboarding speed. The computer keyboard is so heavily used in many jobs that employers seem to be including typing tests in their hiring procedures. So, be careful to list the speed you will test at if include this information.
Computer skills should, of course, be “front and center” if you are an I.T. specialist. Technology professionals should list their relevant skills right under their four-sentence summary or profile statement, and divide them into relevant sections, such as operating systems, applications, e-commerce tools, etc.
Exclude the age-old Praise “References Available Upon Request.
Years ago, most résumés included the line “references available upon request,” below “Computer Skills,” but this line adds little value to a résumé today. We’ve all had to supply references during the hiring process. The hiring process rarely moves forward without references, so there is no need to say you will provide them. The hiring process is not moving forward unless you offer the information.
You now Have a Complete Résumé.
Your résumé should be largely complete at this point if you have followed our Blog since January. Next week, we will start focusing on potentially challenging situations, using the résumé as a starting point for your social media presence, and other job search issues.