It can’t have escaped anyone’s notice that the job market has become even more competitive in the last few years. While the UK narrowly managed to miss out on a double dip recession, the job market has never quite recovered since the country slid in to recession in 2008. In the three months to August 2013, the number of people out of work stood at 2.49 million while the number claiming Jobseekers allowance was 1.35 million in September, according to the Office for National Statistics.
While these numbers have dropped, companies across all sectors continue to make redundancies, pensions are being slashed and the retirement age looks likely to go up. This means it’s more crucial than ever to ensure that your skills stand out to potential employers. One way in which you can do this is by brushing up on your IT knowledge.
Many jobs these days require a high level of IT literacy. Being able to edit documents in Microsoft Word and do some basic calculations in Excel while using Google is no longer enough. With a new generation of digital natives starting to join the workforce, having a handle on new technologies is key. There also seems to be an app for absolutely everything at the moment.
Skills that employers may be looking for (dependant on industry and job role) include knowledge of design suites like Adobe InDesign or Quark; the ability to work with content management systems (which are often custom-built in house); video editing skills; social media presence; some idea of database manipulation (whether proprietary or supplied by vendors like Microsoft and Oracle); and the ability to work across different devices and operating systems, whether it is an iPhone, Android tablet or Windows 8 PC.
This is especially true if you work for a company that is global in nature. With the advent of e-mail and social media, the world we live in seems to be getting smaller. Connecting with people from across the world in real time is now the norm. This means that being able to collaborate with colleagues across the globe through social and video chat technologies is essential. Having a video conference with other members of your company is now a common occurrence so if you don’t know your Skype from your Google Hangouts from your Microsoft Lync, you could be in trouble.
With most businesses (64% of B2B companies, according to Eloqua) seeing social media as a key way to promote their brand and increase loyalty, while potentially opening up new areas of business, keeping up to date on the latest trends could really set you apart. Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Instagram are some of the most popular sites at the moment but new platforms are emerging by the day.
The good news is that there are many different ways you can brush up on your skills from the comfort of your own home. Open University offers IT courses for beginners to advanced users; Elearnuk also provides individual users with online courses; and local universities and colleagues are also a good resource for learning new technology skills. With these skills, your CV will be more likely to be at the top of the pile rather than languishing at the bottom with those whose only skills include ‘team work’ and ‘communication’.