To provides competitive examples to computer skills selection criteria answers, please don’t say you can use email and calendar. It’s 2022. Email has been around 50 years (yes 50) I’ll just assume you can.
Email History – Then
The first email is on computers at MIT in a program called “MAILBOX” in 1965. US Department of Defence implemented ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) in 1969, connecting computers across the DoD for the purpose of communication.
October 29th, 1969 this first message was sent from computer to computer on ARPANET. In 1971 the late Ray Tomlinson invented and developed electronic mail as we know it today. He did this by creating ARPANET’s networked email system.
Email History – Now
Currently email has 2.6 billion users, and, 4.6 billion email accounts. It is the most used communication tool on the internet.
There are now roughly 300 billion emails sent each day.
Some very brief fun facts. It was 1993 that “electronic mail” became “email”. Fun fact, the first spam email was sent May 3, 1978 to several hundred users advertising a presentation. The reaction was almost universally negative. Spam stopped until the early 1990’s when it emerged again to become as common and annoying as we know it today.
Fun facts aside, what does this mean? Email is very old. In fact, it is 50 years old!!
Indeed, most of the people who have never been in employment while email has existed have almost certainly left the workforce by now.
Computer Skills Selection Criteria Answers
Selection criteria for use of computers are common, almost universal. Use of computers in workplaces being almost equally universal. They can be written an infinite number of different ways by will look something like this:
Proficient computer skills (word processing programs, email and information databases) including the ability to utilise computer technology to find and record client and service information during client interactions
What Does That Cover?
Computer technology or computer skills are clearly incredibly broad as “computers” are such a universal tool.
Broadly speaking computer skills selection criteria answers will need to include:
- Software programs – general:
- Software programs – business enablers & collaboration
- Google Meet
- Software programs – proprietary
- Databases (information storage)
- Find and record client and service information
What Do People Respond with in Computer Skills Selection Criteria Answers?
A lot of selection criteria responses even in 2021 still refer to using Word to produce written documents, and Outlook for sending emails. It’s 2021. As an employer I am taking that for granted. I would be genuinely surprised to come across someone who is otherwise most qualified for all the aspects of a job (the other selection criteria) but is employed and then says, “I don’t know how to use email“. I cannot see that day ever happening.
In organisational skills type selection criteria people will refer to using Outlook to send meeting invitations and Word to record minutes which are then distributed by email. Once again, it’s 2021 I am taking it for granted you can do that.
What describing these “skills” like this does when you have limited word counts, is it detracts from your ability to say what you can do or benchmarking your skills.
Benchmarking skills is important to the panel for comparison against other applicants.
What Should People Respond with in Computer Skills Selection Criteria Answers? Benchmarking for Software programs – general
I’ll use Excel as the example here because Excel is a massively complex mathematical program.I have touched on Excel in other blogs like data in criteria examples doesn’t convey the passion story and the ultimate selection criteria blog but for this just want to discuss how to describe your Excel skills.
From the definitive guide to hiring an expert with advanced excel skills three handy levels of excel use are:
- Basic Excel skills include common Excel keyboard shortcuts, using cell references, styles, and ranges with data. Different view options like zooming in or out and showing formulas, and basic spreadsheet formatting also belong to the basic skillset for Excel.
- Intermediate Excel skills include more advanced formulas and functions like SUM, AVERAGE, and SUMPRODUCT for efficient use of spreadsheets. Intermediate users should also have a working knowledge of charts.
- Advanced Excel skills are all about mastery over formulas, VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) programming, and other Excel features for handling complex tasks. Experts can use Excel for more advanced purposes like data analytics and simulation.
Advanced knowledge of Excel means possessing the ability to use spreadsheets, graphing, tables, calculations, and automation efficiently to process large quantities of data relevant to business tasks
The more advanced level of skill the job requires it is imperative to benchmark and show your skills. References to being “an advanced Excel user” in my experience have included people who cannot create a pivot table. As someone who has worked with data, analysis and Excel since the 1990’s (before pivot tables were even a thing) I consider my skills basic to intermediate. While I can do a lot with Excel, like many of us it is only to do the things I have needed to do. If I needed to learn a new skill for a reason, I’d be Googling it.
How do you Benchmark?
Don’t use subjective terms. Describe the most difficult things you can do and give examples when you did them. Giving examples is using the STAR method to describe where you were, what you were doing, what you did and what the outcome was.
When discussing what you did, include the descriptors. For an example using Excel, if you used formula to concatenate and calculate cells, VLOOKUP’s on data in another sheet and coded a Visual Basic form; then say that.
Why? If you know what those things are then you know a lot of people don’t, but your reader will know what you are talking about. If you don’t know what any of those things are then you know your Excel skills are less than what I consider my reasonably basic skills.
While I have been referring to Excel, it works the same for Word, PowerPoint and other programs.
Benchmarking for Software programs. Business enablers & collaboration
Business enablers and collaboration software are super important in the 2021 post COVID workplace. Collaboration tools existed before COVID but were really thrust into the world in early 2020. While most people can “use” them, it is a small subset who can really use them. What’s the difference? Most people can set up a Teams meeting. Few people can set up a Teams meeting with a Decisions plugin that records meeting minutes and actions in Planner with tasks assigned to individuals and reported on a Teams dashboard through PowerBI.
As you can see there is “using” and there is really using. I discuss Teams in the ultimate selection criteria blog in terms of its pivotal place in the Microsoft suite.
As I say repeatedly throughout my training courses, your examples have to be the strongest to get the job so if you are asked about your skills with collaboration software, you need to give strong examples that show your skills and how you can add value to a potential employer.
To be the strongest example with collaboration tools you need to show you can use them not just as a meeting tool, but, as collaboration tools integrating with other product suites to achieve business outcomes and efficiencies.
Benchmarking for Software programs. Proprietary
I am not going to discuss proprietary software because if you are applying for finance roles, you will almost certainly have experience with SAP or Xero. If you are applying for engineering, architecture or construction manager role, you will know about CAD software. If you are a data analyst you will be familiar with Alteryx, PowerBI, Tableau etc.
As the software is infinitely diverse I cannot hope to address in any level of useful detail suffice to say if it applies to your profession, you will know a lot more than me.
Benchmarking for Software programs. Databases
Databases underpin most business activity and information but are not well understood as to what databases are. Here is one definition:
A database is an organized collection of structured information, or data, typically stored electronically in a computer system. The data and applications that are associated with them, are referred to as a database system, often shortened to just database. Data within the most common types of databases in operation today is typically modelled in rows and columns in a series of tables to make processing and data querying efficient
If you have no idea what that means but have ever stored information in Excel* in columns like name, date of birth, customer number etc, and, added a new row for each piece of information; that is conceptually what a database looks like and how it works.
* Excel is not a database!!
Benchmarking for Software programs. Your Database Experience – User Interface
There are people who manage the behind the scenes aspects of databases, generally called DBA’s or Database Administrators. If you are a DBA this doesn’t really apply to you because it is an expert role and you would rarely use the user interface for a database except to test your work.
If you have been on the user end of a database it could have been in an almost infinite number of applications, brandings, uses, businesses so I won’t try to describe them all. Suffice to say if you have entered or searched customer information, or, product inventories, or results (anything from exams to blood tests), or, been responsible for entering and maintaining that information then you have used a database.
So, what do you need to address when talking about your experience with databases?
The single most important skill to establish is that your skills with one database will transfer to others. It is very unlikely if you have used one proprietary database in a workplace with you will find it somewhere else. Your skills however will go with you so when you discuss you skills with one database, make sure you establish how those skills will transfer to others.
Showing that you understand the importance of data quality to using databases is an important thing to do. There is an acronym for that – GIGO. Garbage in garbage out. Show you understand that data going into the database doesn’t just go in for the sake of it. The data has uses and poor-quality data has business implications. These could include:
- Reputational damage from poor quality information
- Poor business decision making from poor information
- Wasted business time from having to implement processes to ensure quality
- Customers who cannot use the information you provide to them, or have to seek to get it changed
If you have been responsible for quality assurance or developed processes to ensure data quality, say that as it shows you understand the context of information and bring skills other than using a keyboard.
Being able to learn and use databases efficiently is a handy skill to show you have. If you are in databases a lot and can show records per hour or processing volumes that are appropriate to the role, show that.
If your gift with databases is quick navigation using hot keys and shortcuts to access information most often sought by customers, then say that. Anything that shows you are more than someone who logs in and uses a database is good. Using a database is a baseline skill, you want to go above that.
If you have technical database knowledge
If you understand database concepts at some level it is not a bad thing to show. Having people in business units who can assist other users, or, assist with technology projects to upgrade databases or add functionality can be valuable people for IT projects.
Have you trained others in using databases?
Being a database user is one thing, training others to use databases is a level up skill. Training implies that you can use the tools, and, have the competency to take that knowledge and explain it to others. It is a valuable skill to show to a prospective employer.
Information and databases 101 is database security and security of information. Not from an IT infrastructure/being hacked point of view – that is the responsibility of the DBA’s and architects. As a user you are responsible for your user credentials and passwords. You are also responsible for how you use the information in the databases and most departments and/or companies will have policies.
In government now, misuse of database/customer information will usually lead to disciplinary action, probably suspension pending an investigation and dependant on the findings, a criminal charge for computer hacking. It’s serious stuff so showing you understand security around computers is important.
This could include:
- Not sharing passwords
- Changing passwords regularly
- Using different passwords for different systems where possible (noting a lot of databases are now single sign on so that may not be possible)
- Understanding email phishing and social engineering which are to most organisations still the most significant security risk they face.
- Securely storing information extracted from databases either electronically or clear desk policy for paper.
When you’re discussing your technology skills, these are the sorts of tings you want to be able to show. Not that you can use email.
Excel can be used as a form of database to manage information, but, it limited in terms of storage, querying and management of information compared to an actual database.
What’s the Most Important Thing to do for Computer Skills Selection Criteria Answers
Benchmark your skills, and, please don’t say you can use email and calendar. Please.
Read the fairly extensive list of suggestions here and find what you can bring to the selection criteria response to show you are better than the next applicant when it comes to technology.
Expectations of Digital Natives (Generation Y, Millennials, iGen and Generation Z)
Digital natives have grown up surrounded by digital technologies, they have never not known the internet, and, computers and the Internet are components of their lives.
A lesson I once learned the hard way was to ask a digital native to create a fillable form for me in Word using form fields, checkboxes and drop downs. They had no clue how to, so I had to walk/train them through it.
Reality is having being surrounded their (your) entire lives by technology they/you don’t necessarily know how to use the specifics and fine details of all of it to be able to do things. Frankly it is unrealistic.
Much of the technology digital natives will be most familiar with is as information consumers using apps. Databasing, record keeping, data quality are concepts that have nothing to do with information consumption, and, are a different skill set.
In that context it is still important to benchmark your skills when describing your examples same as anyone else. Don’t rely on the “I’m GenY they’ll assume I know how to…” attitude. Gen X’ers like me will not assume that again, and, will want to know and see your skills described.