One of the biggest challenges older job-seekers face is being out of touch with current technology. Workers who don’t know how to use the internet or mobile devices are at a serious disadvantage. Offering a blank stare when a recruiter asks for your Twitter handle is not going to help you land a job. Fortunately, you don’t need to understand the ins and outs of how these tools work; you just need to know what they are and how to use them effectively. Here are some things you can do to quickly become tech-savvy enough to soothe any employer’s nerves.
Find community classes.
Many communities offer continuing education classes for people who want to jump into technology. These classes are designed for beginners, so you’ll be with other people who are in the same boat you’re in. They’re a great way to learn the basics of what tools are out there and what you can do with them.
Take some online classes.
Taking online classes might seem laughable if you barely know how to turn your computer on. But one of the best things about the internet is that it offers something for everyone. Regardless of your skill level, you can find online classes that will teach you everything you want to know.
- If you’re starting from square one, try GCFLearnFree. Their online courses start with things like how to use a mouse and how to use a keyboard. From there you can move on to Internet 101, Internet Safety, or Email…all the way up to Tech Savvy Tips and Tricks. They also offer a number of courses on social media.
- Lynda is a website that’s chock full of video tutorials on just about anything you can imagine. There are dozens of courses on how to use the internet, ranging from beginner to advanced. If you already know how to use the internet but don’t even know where to start when it comes to social media, Lynda can help you out there, too.
- If you’re a little more advanced, you might want to try Udemy. Udemy is a lot like Lynda, but the courses are really in depth. Right now, Udemy has over 100 courses on social media alone.
Ask your kids.
Once you know what’s out there, ask your kids how they use those tools. Or your grandkids. Or any younger colleague. Today’s young people grew up with technology just like we grew up with cars and color TV (despite what my kids may think; they’ve repeatedly asked if we had cars when we were growing up). They don’t marvel at it; they just accept it as the way things are, which makes them uniquely able to simply explain how to use it.
Just do it.
The best way to learn how to use technology is to just jump in and do it.
- Start with Google or one of the other search engines. You can find the answer to just about anything online, even if it’s “how to use Google search.” But you can also do searches like, “What are apps?” and “What is smart TV?” These searches will provide beginner-level information that will give you the foundation you need to learn more.
- Set up your social media accounts and start exploring. Twitter is a good one to start with. All you have to do is find some topics that interest you and follow people who post (Tweet) about those topics. That’s the best way to learn what people Tweet about and how they do it. Don’t be shy about sending that first Tweet when you’re ready…just realize that nothing on the internet ever dies, so nothing naughty! Once you’ve gotten your feet wet on Twitter, give Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ a try.
- Don’t forget your phone. If you don’t already have a smartphone, it’s time to get one. If you do have one, it’s time to learn how to use it for something other than making phone calls. You can use your phone to check emails, send and receive text messages, access the internet, check the weather, play games, etc. In fact, just about anything you can do on your computer can be done on your smartphone. And, not only will you be able to, potential employers will expect you to. One of the more controversial aspects of the “connected age” is that everyone is expected to be immediately reachable.
- Don’t be amazed. Expressing amazement at what you learn is a good way to get yourself labeled a dinosaur. Today’s young people aren’t amazed by what technology can do; they’re amazed if there’s something it can’t do. The message you want to convey is, “Of course, I knew you could do that, I just didn’t know how…”
One of the biggest hurdles for older employees when it comes to finding work is surprisingly easy to fix. Technology is such a part of daily life that you won’t have to look too hard to learn enough to convince employers that you are indeed tech-savvy.