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Questionnaire: Are Your IT Skills Up to Scratch?

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 13 Jun 2010 | comments*Discuss
It Skills Workplace Spreadsheets

There are very, very few jobs that do not require at least some degree of computer literacy nowadays.

If you literally think that you can press the wrong button on a computer and ‘break the internet’, perhaps it’s a good idea for you to pop down to your local library and enquire about a basic IT skills course. They’re usually subsidised or even free and will teach you the absolute basics – starting with how to turn the computer on! Don’t feel intimidated – if there weren’t so many people that didn’t know how to use computers there wouldn’t be so many courses.

Whether you just need to be able to reply to an email every now and then or create full-on presentations depends on your actual role, but if you’re not sure how good your IT skills are, perhaps it’s best to do this questionnaire before you start applying for jobs.

Understanding Email

There’s no excuse for not knowing how to send an email if you’re employed in the modern workplace. So how well do you know how to use email?

  1. I never use emails – I’d rather send a letter, telegram or homing pigeon.
  2. I send emails to friends and family with photos of the kids. I haven’t used email at work because I’ve not had a full time job for a few years while I’ve been bringing up my children.
  3. I have a BlackBerry and am totally used to sending emails for work and fun.

Using the Internet

It’s really useful to be able to check facts on the internet – whether it’s booking flights or looking up information – the internet gives you whole encyclopaedias at the touch of a button. If you’re planning to return to work you really ought to be able to use the internet, but how good are your skills?

  1. I’ve never bought, sold or researched anything on the internet – that’s what travel agents, shops and libraries are for.
  2. I’ve found the odd bargain on eBay and I’ve got to grips with comparison sites so I’m sure I can pick up a new system with some help.
  3. I’m a demon with internet research and I’m always the irritating person that gets return flights for a pound.

Presentation Skills

Not standing-up-in-front-of-people type presentation skills (although that’s pretty important too). Presentation skills that use the computer, such as spreadsheets and PowerPoint, are a necessary skill in some roles, especially office support, marketing and business development jobs. If you’re not really up to scratch with presentation techniques, perhaps these types of jobs are not right for you.

  1. I’ve never even used a flip chart, let alone knocked up a PowerPoint presentation.
  2. I’m OK with making basic spreadsheets and I’m sure I could learn pretty quickly.
  3. I have all my personal and business expenses on colour-coded spreadsheets and I often make PowerPoint presentations for my friends and family.

How Did You Get On?

If you answered mainly 1), you’re not really an IT guru, are you? You really need to go on a basic course because even if you’re not looking for an office based job when you return to work, computers aren’t going away anytime soon and you may be missing out.

If you answered mainly 2), you at least know one end of a computer from the other. As long as you have a positive attitude and learn from your new colleagues (and take any training on offer), you’ll be fine. Just don’t apply for any jobs that need ‘expert IT skills’.

If you answered mainly 3), it sounds as though you know all about how to use your excellent IT skills. Now that you’re ready to return to work, maybe it’s worth brushing up how your skills might be harnessed in the modern workplace? Ask at your local library for an advanced IT course – maybe there is a career here waiting for you!

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