Are your IT skills up to date?

ITBefore you start applying for jobs it's vital that you ensure your IT skills are up to date, to a good standard.

Nowadays, all but a handful of job descriptions identify good IT skills as being essential to the role. And employers have increasingly started to include IT skills testing as part of the screening or interview process.

Many employers also assume that candidates have experience of using the internet to gather information and that they will know how to manage files on a computer and office or virtual server system.

If you have had a career break, have been working in a casual, part-time or freelance capacity, or are changing careers, you might find that your IT skills need updating. Remember to read the job description carefully to find out exactly what level of IT skills are required for each vacancy you apply for.  

Updating your IT skills will help you find more vacancies too. The internet has become one of the most important job hunting tools in recent years, and you may want to learn more about how to use the web and social media to take best advantage of opportunities online.

As a guide, experience of the following would be considered intermediate standard in the most common Microsoft software packages - Word, Excel and Outlook (latest version 2010)

MS Word

In addition to basic document management skills the ability to:
• customize tables and charts.
• customize the formatting of a document using styles and themes.
• modify pictures in a document.
• create customized graphic elements.
• insert content using Quick Parts.
• control text flow.
• use templates to automate document creation.
• use the mail merge function.
• use macros to automate common tasks.

MS Excel

In addition to basic worksheet skills the ability to:
• organise worksheet and table data using various techniques.
• use formulas
• create and modify charts.
• analyse data using PivotTables, Slicers, and PivotCharts.
• insert and modify graphic objects in a worksheet.
• customise and enhance workbooks and the Microsoft Office Excel environment.

MS Outlook

• explore the Outlook interface, send mail, and respond to messages.
• compose email messages.
• organize email messages into folders.
• manage contacts and contact information.
• schedule appointments.
• schedule a meeting.
• manage tasks and notes.
• customize message settings.
• organise and locate Outlook messages.
• set calendar options.
• track activities using the Journal.
• assign and track tasks.
• share folder information.
• customise the Outlook environment.

MS Powerpoint presentation software and the database programme MS Access are less common requirements but experience of putting together slideshow presentations and of working with databases is often very useful.

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