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How to Put Computer Knowledge on a Resume
Computer skills are essential for many jobs in the modern workplace, even in places you might not expect. Consider the retail sales agent who tracks sales on a desktop computer, or the farmer who monitors crop production with a handheld tablet. When you're applying for jobs, every resume you create should be tailored to the job for which you're applying, so you can pepper the resume with the skills and qualifications that particular employer is looking for. That means you might choose to include certain computer skills on one resume, but leave those skills out on the next one.
To help you get really specific with a certain resume, print out the job listing and then use a highlighter to underline all the skills and knowledge the employer is looking for. Those underlined portions are the things you need to take care to include on your resume. For example, if the employer wants someone who is proficient in social media, you'll need to find a way to include your experience in that field on your resume. You might include it in your "Work Experience" section if you used social media extensively in previous jobs, or in your "Education and Training" section if you took courses in how to use social media for professional purposes. Before you start making the resume, do some other research on the company to find out more about its culture. Researching reviews or news articles about the company might reveal that its managers place special value on cutting-edge or forward-thinking technology. From that, you'd know you should try to mention your familiarity with and interest in new technologies somewhere on the resume.
Computer Skills Section
Now it's time to get to the nitty-gritty and actually start crafting your resume. Common sense is going to be a big ally here. For example, if you're applying for a job as a computer programmer, you're naturally going have to be more specific about your computer skills than you would if you were applying for a retail job. In any case, your resume should typically include a "Technical Skills" or "Computer Skills" section heading somewhere on the first page. Look back to the job posting and include any computer programs you're proficient in that also apply to the job at hand. For example, a photography assistant might need to know Photoshop or Illustrator, but it's not going to be necessary to mention that you're familiar with drafting software. Balance brevity with adequate information and don't use filler just to make your resume look longer, or to make it look like you have more experience than you really do. Another no-no: Don't mention obvious skills, like knowing how to use the Internet.
Modern resumes need to be easy-to-read across multiple desktop and mobile platforms. That means formatting each section in a list format. In your "Computer Skills" or "Technical Skills" section, create a bullet-point list, and then put your most relevant skills near the top. For example, if you're an accountant, include the types of accounting software you know best near the top of the list. List the programs you're less familiar with further down on the list. Keep the list short and sweet by describing your skills in a few words vs. a full sentence. If the employer is looking for someone with a certain number of years or months of experience with a certain computer program or skill, include the length of time you've worked with the program immediately following the description.
Training and Education
If you've had any formal training in certain types of software or programming, you can include it one of a few areas. For example, you can include it in your "Technical Skills" bullet-point list, just after the mention of the skill or program. Or you can include it in another section titled "Professional Training" or "Education." Include the name of the training program, the dates you attended, and any special certifications you earned. Another thing to keep in mind: If you've included particular proficiencies on your resume, be prepared to get called upon to show off your skills. Spend a little time before interviews practicing the programs you know. Even better, bring along a portfolio that demonstrates your proficiency, such as a book of your edited photos or complicated spreadsheets you've created for a client.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.