At some point in your life, you’ve probably had a line on your resumé devoted to your extreme technical talents a la Microsoft Office Suite. Perhaps that skills section was a little bare, so you wanted to beef it up.
‘Sure’, you thought, ‘I’ve used word and excel before, and did that one powerpoint in Year 11 as well. I’m defs proficient’.
I regret to inform you that you are lying to yourself and the world. You are NOT proficient in Microsoft Word, Excel and certainly not Powerpoint, buddy. No way. Well, unless you know VLOOKUP, pivot tables and all the short-cuts. Yes, those things that you and I definitely understand.
If you’re applying for a job using a computer, it’s a given that you can use stock-standard apps for basic tasks: saying you can ‘use word’ is the equivalent of saying ‘I can email’. Once upon, in the late ’90s and early 2000s, being able to competently use a computer was an accomplishment: now, it’s more or less a given.
But you’ll still find it as a ‘required skill’ across job listings: it’s not an overhang of decades past, but now refers a level of tech-literacy most of us don’t have – or rather, don’t care to.
We’re sure you could work it all out in time, but the whole point of putting ‘proficiency’ on your resumé is saying you won’t spend half a day battling an excel spreadsheet to put in a rainbow gradient. One way to speed up the trial and error of learning this terribly boring stuff is KeyRocket, a free app for Office, Windows and Microsoft Visual Studio which is basically like a irritant-free Clippy.
Rather than have an anthropomorphic paper clip appear every two seconds, KeyRocket will share a shortcut with you as it sees you doing something the long way. After a few successful uses, it’ll congratulate you on learning the skill and stop telling you about it. There’s no Mac version yet, but there is a Gmail extension.
But if everyone’s got this false skill on their resumés, how do you prove that you actually have the know-how?
It comes back to being specific. When writing a resumé, it’s always best to cut down jargon and focus on specifics: if proficiency in Office means literally nothing, why even have it there? How about something more precise, like “known experience using Microsoft Office for admin duties” or something? Alternatively, Microsoft offers certifiable timed tests you can put on your resume. You can find a whole plethora of random ones them online too, if you’re wondering whether you know your stuff.
While we’re here, the whole ‘proficient in social media’ line has to go to. If you’re using it, you better be able to track campaigns, manage multiple brand’s voices and plan out a social strategy. And if all that sounds gross to you, then you know you’re a damn liar, okay?! Sorry, just passionate.
Anyway, cut out the basic placeholders and focus on your actual skills. I know you got ’em.
Image credit: The Atlantic