In general, a skill is anything learned from hours of practice or something that comes naturally to some people. For example, someone who can type on a keyboard at a high WPM (words per minute) without looking at their fingers has likely spent hundreds of hours typing. In other words, a person with a 100 WPM typing speed is skilled at typing. Someone who hunt-and-pecks on a keyboard is not skilled at typing.
Examples of computer and technical skills
When looking to get hired at a technical job, an employer requires that workers have one or more technical skills. These skills may come from personal experience, past employment, or skills learned at school. Below are examples of the types of technical skills a company may want.
If you're skilled at any of the following, mentioning it on your resume helps set you apart from others applying for the same position.
General computer proficiency
Any computer-related job requires that the person be proficient or skilled at using a computer. This requirement can include the person knowing how to use a computer. Companies that use a particular operating system may also require the person to know how to use that operating system. For example, a user may know how to use a Microsoft Windows computer but have no idea how to use a Linux computer.
Skilled at using specific software
There are thousands of programs and other software that run on a computer. A company may require that its employees know how to use one or more specific programs. Some of these programs can include any of the following.
General computer programs
- E-mail client like Microsoft Outlook.
- Presentation software like Microsoft PowerPoint.
- Spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel.
- Word processor like Microsoft Word.
- Bookkeeping software used in accounting and finance jobs.
- CAD (computer-aided design) software used in architecture and engineering.
- CMS (content management system) software used in many online writing and journalism jobs.
- CRM (customer relationship management) software used in many different industries.
- EMR (electronic medical record) or telehealth software used in healthcare.
- POS (point-of-sale) software used with retail and food services.
- Photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop used in design and photography.
Skilled at computer programming
Computer programming jobs require their workers to be skilled with one or more computer programming languages. It's also important that the workers use the relevant programs needed to write and run code, like a specific IDE (integrated development environment) and revision control system.
Skilled at technical writing
Technical writing jobs require the worker to be a skilled writer who makes little or no spelling errors and has proper grammar. In addition to not making errors, a technical writer should understand what's being discussed and explain complex topics.
For a complete listing of computer and technical-related jobs and the skills they require, see: What jobs are available in the computer industry?
Why is it important to have technical skills?
Almost everyone can have soft skills, like creativity, focus, friendliness, and time management, that help with jobs. However, it can take a lot of time and effort to get hard skills, like those mentioned above. Because fewer people have hard skills, those with the required hard skills can demand higher pay and often get more benefits from their employer.
How is a technique different than a skill?
A skill is anything someone can do with little or no thought because they either have a natural talent or a lot of experience. In contrast, a technique is only the method of how someone should be performing a task. For example, a new computer user may have the proper typing technique with their hands positioned correctly but still type slow because they lack the skill learned from hours of practice.
How do I learn or improve a technical skill?
You can learn a new technical skill or improve upon a technical skill you have by doing any of the following.
- Enroll in a class or a training program that teaches technical skills.
- Self-learn by reading books, reading websites like Computer Hope, and watching videos online.
- Learn from your co-workers and on-the-job training.
- Find a mentor or someone with the technical skills who is willing to take you as an apprentice.