Impressing employers with your technical skills these days requires more than just knowing how to use formulas in Microsoft Excel. Instead, hiring managers are looking for familiarity with some of the latest Web 2.0 technologies. No matter what industry you work in, knowing your way around a computer can be critical to landing a new job--or hanging on to your current one.
While some technical skills are highly job specific--niche computer programming languages, for example--others can easily jump from one industry to another. Having in-demand technical skills in your arsenal signals to employers that you are comfortable around technology and able to pick up new skills as your job demands.
Five tech skills employers want
Diverse industries are recognizing the power of social media to tap into new customer bases, while other companies are leveraging new technologies to make processes faster, more efficient and cheaper. Across industries, career experts pinpointed the following five skills as key to making your resume stand out.
1. Social Media
Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Digg, StumbleUpon--these are types of social media networks, and today's employers expect employees to know how to navigate at least two or three of them.
"New candidates often know more about Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc., than their managers," says Lynne Sarikas, director of the MBA Career Center at Northeastern University in Boston. "If the candidate has a blog, they should mention it if it is appropriate content to share with an employer. These skills are particularly important in marketing roles."
While most people think of YouTube when someone says video--and it is important for job applicants to be familiar with YouTube--video skills also include tools that enable global communication, such as Skype, videoconferencing and video chat rooms.
"These are simple tools people can learn and use in a matter of minutes, but many don't," says Mark A. Herschberg, CEO of Zepfrog and an instructor at MIT. "These are particularly important because so much of today's information-based economy is about communication--even more so in our global distributed world."
3. Software programs
It's a mistake to think that just because you're not familiar with a specific software program that you're not qualified for a particular job. Demonstrating an ability to learn and use software programs in the past shows employers that you can learn new ones as well.
"While employers love to find someone with experience in the specific software they utilize, most realize that finding someone with experience with any technical system shows their ability to work with technology and to learn new systems," Sarikas says. "Employers can train employees on specific application, but they cannot teach technical aptitude. That is what they are trying to hire."
HTML is the code used to create and modify content on web pages. Candidates who are familiar with the basics of HTML can take on simple troubleshooting and computer maintenance tasks previously reserved for web developers and IT gurus.
"If you can do some HTML coding, you're able to fix a broken email signature, upload a page telling your customers your servers are 'under maintenance' or even build an index to instruct and give access to all information and documents you have in your department Intranet directory," says Karla Lopez, co-founder of JobConvo.com. "It solves pretty much every communication problem with your internal and external clients."
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the range of techniques used by marketers and web site designers to improve the visibility of their web pages in Internet search engine results. Ranking near the top of the list for search queries can bring valuable traffic and visibility to a company's web page, and as more businesses turn to the Internet to gain customers and promote their brand, SEO is becoming mainstream.
SEO skills range from techniques for writing compelling marketing copy to technical abilities involved in designing a web page.
"All large employers want this," says Roger Stanton, CEO of Job Search Television Network in Chicago. "They all want their content optimized."
How to increase your tech savvy
Learning some of these skills, such as LinkedIn or YouTube, may be as easy as familiarizing yourself with the site and how it works. In fact, many of the sites have their own learning center, such as the LinkedIn Learning Center or the Getting Started YouTube page.
Other, such as HTML and SEO, may require formal training. Colleges, universities and technical schools offer everything from targeted to certificate programs to fully fleshed out degrees in computer skills. If you are unable to find a class nearby or have problems finding one that fits into a packed schedule, there are many online offerings as well.
Investing the these and other versatile technical skills can help you turn your work experience and skills into the Resume 2.0 today's employers want.
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