If you recently graduated with a degree in Communications, Marketing, English, or another popular but somewhat broad area of study, you might feel lost as to how 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, even if you're just entering the workforce.
The tech you choose to learn should reflect your career goals, but don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. In this day and age, the more you know, the more valuable you are.
Standard office tech everyone should know
A surprising number of college graduates don't know how to use basic office technology, and many people who currently hold upper management positions in companies graduated long enough ago that they didn't learn much technology in school, either. Of course, lots of experienced professionals teach themselves office technology on the job, but a surprising number of successful people still struggle with basic tasks in broadly used products.
One reason standard office technology is overlooked is that people tend to think that office suites aren't very powerful, but that's not the case. There are far more features baked into these programs than you might realize, and it's worth exploring them to find out what you're missing.
Sure, you may know how to open an Excel file and use SUM to add up a column of numbers, but do you know how create a table that can be sorted, use filters or create powerful pivot tables? Likewise, everyone knows how to create a document in Word, but few know how to do a mail merge, which allows you to custom address hundreds (or thousands) of letters with a few clicks.
By mastering the staples of office technology, you can seriously boost your resume and become the go-to person for troubleshooting and getting things done. If you're not sure where to start, begin with these business standbys:
If you play any role in content creation, you'll need to learn how to use a CMS. There are many different CMS solutions, but it's not necessary to master all of them. If you learn how one CMS works, you should be able to use other products with relative ease. [Read related story on our sister site, Business.com: Best Content Management Systems and Blogging Platforms]
WordPress is a great option for learning a CMS; it's available for free and has so many basic and advanced features. It's relatively easy to start using WordPress, and if you're moderately tech savvy, you shouldn't have any trouble choosing templates, creating content, embedding media, adding tags and categories, and setting up site menus.
Like any system, you can dig in as deep as you want. Upgrade to a paid version and you can delve into adding plugins and widgets, create a dev site for testing, use the analytics dashboard, and even hone your HTML and CSS skills to do some custom work on your site. Other popular CMS products include Weebly, Wix and Squarespace.
Having a curated presence on social media is great, but understanding the types of tools businesses use to manage social media is even better. SaaS solutions (software as a service) and plugins make maintaining an online business presence much easier.
While many businesses use alternatives to the products listed here, these applications are among the most popular choices for SMBs, and are therefore a good place for beginners to start.
Hootsuite: Hootsuite is a popular product that allows subscribed users to connect 20 social media profiles to one account and then manage them all directly in Hootsuite (including posting, responding to messages, auto content scheduling, etc.). This system, and others like it, has built-in analytics so you can track the efficacy of social media campaigns and overall visibility over time.
Canva: This super user-friendly tool makes it easy to make well-designed social media posts, even if you have zero Photoshop or graphic design skills. The photo editor is intuitive, the font catalog is comprehensive, and it's free to sign up as an individual (business subscriptions cost money, though). Tools like Canva are great to familiarize yourself with because they're used broadly by small businesses that may not have a dedicated design or photography department.
SEO + AdWords
Mastering SEO and Google AdWords is a fantastic way to add to your professional toolkit. There are lots of resources aimed at helping people learn general SEO best practices as well as AdWords. Here are just a few recommended resources:
Google: Google offers free learning guides and tutorials that explain SEO basics, Google search basics, AdWords and Analytics. You can also turn to Google for news on updates. If you want a step-by-step video tutorial, you're better off opting for one of the other two resources listed below.
Udemy: This online learning portal has lots of free (and paid) courses for SEO. If you're a total noob, start with their comprehensive SEO Tutorial for Beginners.
Lynda.com: Many professional and educational organizations have subscriptions to Lynda.com, but you can purchase one as an individual ($19.99 a month), which is worthwhile if you want to become an AdWords power user. There are currently 168 tutorials for AdWords and 57 for Analytics on Lynda.com, making it a great one-stop resource that can take you from beginner to advanced.