Articles from TheCareerAdvisor
Basic Computer Skills Boost Your Career
  Here are several interesting thoughts about how computers make us more productive and marketable in our careers:
  1. I'm amazed at the number of middle and upper-level management job hunters that don't own a computer, can't create a word processed document or copy a disk, don't have an e-mail address, and have never surfed the Web. They are often at a disadvantage in the job market, and in new jobs they undertake.

  2. No matter what your career—from entry-level to CEO—it's wise to push yourself to learn additional computer skills, even if you don't think you'll need them. Play with such programs as word processing, spreadsheets, database packages, HTML, web design—even Internet surfing and electronic games—anything that stretches your abilities. People with current computer skills are in high demand now, and even top executives are expected to tote their laptops and Blackberries on the road.

  3. Not all software programs are alike. Some should be driven by experts and can take months or years to master. Graphics programs are a good example of tools that are infinitely complex and can consume too much productive time on even simple tasks or projects. Be a good judge of when to hire an expert to help you spend your time and dollars wisely.

  4. If you're investing in a PC, you should buy the most advanced system you can afford. The reason you buy the best is that all the hardware and software is installed and configured at the factory, meaning everything supposedly works together. If you buy a bargain PC, you're forever returning it to the shop for more memory, different software, a bigger hard drive—whatever. That takes oodles of time, costs lots of money, and usually comes at a terrible time—like when a recruiter asks you to send a complete dossier for a job with a 30% salary increase. [Get recruiters here.]

  5. Current software packages like Windows 2008, AntiVirus programs, HTML editors, FTP clients (programs that transfer files onto the Internet) are so complex that few workers really learn them completely. The technical experts in our office help each other out constantly—and willingly—as one always knows something the other doesn't. It's a good idea to give computer help, as well as to receive it.

  6. Make friends with technical experts in your workplace. These "techies" and "nerds" as they often call themselves, may prefer casual clothes rather than coat and tie, but they can save your day when your computer screen says, "This program has performed a fatal error and will be shut down."

  7. Wired, and PC Magazine are good e-mags for beginners. They're a combination of technology, comedy, comic book, psychedelic advertising, freaky photography, and mighty helpful ideas. You'll find reviews for dozens of useful career-related Websites.

  8. Many e-mail programs offer an Auto Signature feature. This utility attaches the same message at the end of every e-mail you send. Most folks use their name, address, telephone numbers, e-mail address, and web address as their sig file. That way they don't have to re-type the data hundreds of times. Others use a motivational quote or facts about their products or services as a signature file.

  9. If you're submitting a lot of resumes electronically, you can use your cover letter and resume as a sig file. Using this method, I sent out press releases announcing a free cover letter Website and the effort produced a write-up in Yahoo! Internet Life under "incredibly USEFUL Websites."

  10. If a want ad gives a mailing address, FAX number, and e-mail address, send the resume all three ways, with a note saying something like, "This is a duplicate submission. This job is a perfect fit for my skills, and I want to be certain you see my resume."

  11. One final hint: don't run virus scanning software at midnight, unless you want to stay up until 4:00 a.m. deleting infected files, as I once did. (And then the computer still died.) It's better to check for viruses early in the day after a hearty breakfast.

  12. Good luck, take two computer manuals to bed, and call me in the morning.
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