If you recently graduated with a liberal arts degree, it can be difficult to make your resume stand out from the crowd. While having a degree and impressive work experience is ideal, building some tech skills is an excellent way to immediately bolster your resume, whether you're entering the workforce for the first time or looking to advance to a job in management.
What are examples of technical skills?
Tech skills are necessary for performing many tasks in the workplace, including those involving digital equipment or software, like these:
- Programming languages
- Digital marketing
- Website or social media experience
- Industry-specific software
- Data management and analysis
- Familiarity with artificial intelligence bots
Though tech skills are often associated with jobs for engineers, mathematicians or computer programmers, the rise of technology and internet marketing has made them relevant to nearly every industry. Even jobs that rely on soft skills, such as retail or restaurant work, now expect employees to use technology like point-of-sale (POS) software.
When you list both soft skills and tech skills on your resume, you stand out at interviews and become a more appealing candidate.
5 tech skills for your resume
The tech you choose to learn should reflect your career goals, but don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. In today's job market, the more versatile your skill set, the more valuable you are as an employee.
1. Common computer software
Standard office technology is often overlooked, because people assume office suites aren't powerful. But there are many useful features in common office software that can simplify and streamline necessary office tasks.
Many of these programs you will use on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Knowing how to use uncommon functions, like creating a linked table of contents in a Word doc or running quick data analysis using Excel, can make you a valuable asset in a busy office. If you're not sure where to start, begin with business standbys like Word, Excel, Outlook and G Suite.
2. Content management and HTML
Managing a website doesn't require being a web developer, knowing complex programming languages or having advanced coding skills. You can help with content creation or website management once you learn how to use a content management system, or CMS.
If you learn how one CMS works, you should be able to use other products with relative ease. WordPress is a popular option, along with Weebly, Wix and Squarespace. Learn how to choose a template, create a page, embed media, set up a site menu, and add tags or categories.
For more advanced content management, learn some basic HTML or CSS skills. This will allow you to make custom changes to a template, create eye-catching webpages and troubleshoot problems that arise.
3. Social media
Knowing how to use your personal social media accounts is a good first step, but understanding the tools businesses use to manage social media is even better.
Learn to use programs like Hootsuite or Buffer to manage accounts across multiple platforms, schedule posts and monitor growth analytics. You should also educate yourself on how marketing strategies for platforms differ, such as the way hashtags are used on Twitter versus Instagram, and keep up with new trends in social media marketing.
4. Design software
Adding design skills to your resume helps you stand out because most businesses aren't large enough to have a full design department. Instead, they rely on employees to create graphics for brochures, social media posts, web pages, postcards, presentations and other marketing materials.
If you know how to use tools like Canva, you can create eye-catching visual assets even if you don't have graphic design training. If you open a free account and spend a few hours playing around, you can create a few sample designs that you can add to your portfolio when you're applying for jobs.
Most businesses know that they need SEO, but few know what it is, or even that it stands for search engine optimization. If you can tell a prospective employer not only what SEO involves but suggest ideas for how to improve their own digital marketing using techniques, like long-tail keywords, you'll demonstrate a concrete way that you can add value to their team.
You don't need to be a master of SEO, but you should learn the basics of how product descriptions, blogging, and other website content can be used to improve search ranking, as well as keyword best practices and common SEO tools.
What are technical skills in management?
New hires aren't the only ones who need technical skills on their resume. Managers often must supervise teams from a variety of backgrounds, and having a basic grasp of many technical fields can help you understand their work, make suggestions, or assist in troubleshooting.
1. Computer programming
You don't need to be an expert, but understanding the basics of computer programming and coding will help you communicate more effectively with your team and spot potential problems before they get out of hand. This includes a working understanding of website coding such as HTML or CSS, web or app design and search optimization. You should also be comfortable with software programs that are specific to your industry.
2. Data analysis
Most management positions require accurately gathering and reporting on data to upper management and executives. To do so effectively, you should be able to conduct data analysis across a variety of projects to check for significant trends or potential problems.
If someone else is responsible for performing the analysis, you should still understand the process clearly enough that you can explain clearly and logically the process, the findings and the implications for any next steps.
3. Content marketing
Content marketing involves creating, publishing, and distributing information online as a way to attract your target customers and promote your business. This is usually done through a combination of website content, video, social media, email marketing, blogging and other online publishing.
As a manager, you may not be required to implement every step in a content marketing plan. You will, however, need to design and supervise each step, which requires understanding both what is involved in each aspect of content marketing and how those elements work together to support each other.
4. Employee management software
In addition to the basic office software that all employees should know how to use, managers should be familiar with software that is used for supervising and running a team. This includes software designed for human resources, recruiting, accounting and other financial responsibilities.
You can support your career by familiarizing yourself with project management software, such as Slack or Asana. This demonstrates not only your commitment to effectively managing teams, it also shows that you keep up with trends in technology and are comfortable learning new skills.
5. Technical writing
Managers are often responsible for creating project instructions that employees use, as well as complex reports that go to upper management. This requires both strong writing skills and the ability to clearly communicate complex technical information. From describing products and services to explaining the results of data analysis, you should be proficient in technical writing that is appropriate to your industry.
How can you learn technical skills?
Many liberal arts or business degrees don't include practical instruction in tech skills, and often those in upper management positions graduated before those tech skills were even part of the job.
Many experienced professionals teach themselves office technology on the job, but there are also accessible resources for training and guided instruction in technical skills.
- Google offers free learning guides and tutorials that explain SEO basics, Google search basics, ads and analytics. You can also turn to Google for news on updates to SEO best practices.
- Udemy is an online learning portal with both free and paid courses. These include lessons such as SEO for beginners, technical writing and basic HTML.
LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com) is an online learning site with courses and video tutorials that cover a variety of business and technical skills. Many professional and educational organizations have subscriptions to the site, but you can purchase one as an individual or subscribe with a LinkedIn Premium account.
- YouTube hosts a variety of detailed video tutorials that are free to access and can help you learn specific skills. For example, you can find step-by-step instructions for how to do a mail merge in Word or how to create a design with Canva.
How do you describe technical skills on a resume?
When designing your resume, the obvious place to put your tech skills is in a "Skills and Specialties" section. In some industries, a distinct "Technical Skills" section for your resume may be appropriate.
Your work will stand out more, however, if you don't limit yourself to a list of skills at the bottom of a page. As you describe your previous experience, include what technical skills you used. Include both the description of what you did ("redesigned website using WordPress and custom HTML") and what impact it had ("increased web-driven lead generation by 500% over six months").
By including these tech skills in your resume, you demonstrate to potential employers both what abilities you bring and how those abilities can directly benefit them.