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Top Tech Skills for the Workplace
Tuesday, February 7, 2023 - 22:24
In an increasingly technological world where many employers offer remote positions, digital savviness and tech skills can make you and your resume stand out from the crowd. While most of us have experience using laptops and joining Zoom meetings, being workforce-ready is a whole new ballgame. Read on to learn the top tech skills to cultivate to boost your resume.
For remote workers, managing your time and staying focused are musts. This means understanding your workload, the time it will take to complete projects, and limiting distractions in the home. It’s also important to maintain a work-life balance. It helps to not work in the room where you sleep and doing your work during a normal workday schedule. Make sure to keep your Outlook calendar up-to-date, with classes, club meetings, work, and any other time commitments. Consider scheduling study time so you set aside the time you need to focus. These are great habits you’ll need in the workplace.
Organization is key for any employee, but can be especially useful to those who don’t have a designated office space. Keeping your laptop, files, and any other digital tools organized will help you immensely, especially if you’re in a video meeting and your boss asks you for a document on the fly. Starting each day with a schedule is a practical way to visualize all your tasks for the day. Microsoft Teams Planner is a project management tool that can help you stay on top of short and long-term projects. Take notes using OneNote so you can organize your pages into sections that are easy to review and search.
VPN (Virtual Private Network)
If you need to get out of your house and hit a cafe to get your remote work done, it’s important to ensure that your personal and work information remain safe. Heck, you’ll need it to connect to restricted servers from home. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) can ensure digital protection when using restricted University services that don’t use Pitt Passport authentication. Pitt offers Global Protect, a VPN to ensure security when accessing restricted University systems and data, no matter where you get your work done. There are numerous free VPN services that can protect your personal data when using public Wi-Fi for personal computing. Download a VPN today and start using it regularly so you know how they work.
Password Management (LastPass)
Using separate passwords for every account can be a pain. Getting your accounts hacked is way worse. But to have a work account compromised is a nightmare. It’s incredibly embarrassing, harms your reputation, damages the organization, and can even lead to discipline. Develop good digital habits now by using separate passwords for every account, and store them all in a Password Manager so it’s not a nightmare to remember them all.
Microsoft Office 365
Teams and Virtual Conferencing
Many of us are comfortable using Zoom, whether it's for classes or catching up with friends. But many employers communicate over Microsoft Teams, and you’ll need to be up to speed on the app from the moment you hit the ground. You’ll discover that setting up and presenting in Teams is a bit more complex then just joining someone else’s meeting. Get some practice setting up a meeting, inviting others, sharing your screen, and giving others co-presenter status. Set up a team for a club or group project. Get used to chatting, sharing files, working on a whiteboard, coordinating schedules in Teams.
Along with Teams, you should be using OneDrive to save, store, and share documents. OneDrive offers a lot more storage than other platforms like Google Drive (5 TB vs 15 GB) and makes collaborating on documents easy. Learn about sharing files in OneDrive, so you don’t struggle on the job.
It’s also important to keep your work and personal files separate. Employers don’t allow work data to be stored in a private Google account, and storing directly on your device is risky. Get in the habit of using Google for your personal files and pictures, but using OneDrive for classwork, work you do in a campus job, and files for Pitt clubs and activities.
Word and Excel
You have opened a new Word document, written something, and saved it to your device a hundred times, but a bit more will likely be required in a professional setting. Go beyond the basics, and learn more advanced features, like formatting a document using styles, inserting images/videos, creating hyperlinks, adding page numbers and tables of contents, etc. that you’ll need to create formal proposals and work presentations. Similarly, using Excel involves more than just entering numbers and text into rows and columns of a spreadsheet. From PivotTables and XLOOKUP to conditional formatting formulas, Excel can be a powerful tool that you should know better than you probably do. Microsoft’s help resources offer helpful articles and tutorials, while LinkedIn Learning has whole classes on these apps. Or you can ask a Tech Ambassador to cover some of these features.
LinkedIn and LinkedIn Learning
A polished LinkedIn profile is the gateway to headhunters and networking contacts. Take some time to perfect yours, from adding the right content to using a professional headshot. Among the highlights of your LinkedIn Learning profile are the courses and certificates you may have earned from LinkedIn Learning. Don’t have any? Get on that. It takes just a couple hours to get training in a skill that employers value. When you link your LinkedIn profile with your Learning account, courses and certificates will show up on your profile automatically. Additional training demonstrates to an employer that you have an assertive, self-motivated personality, as well as providing important skills.
Nothing grabs an employer’s attention like a formal professional certification. Microsoft certifications are at the top of the list, and they aren’t just for techies. The Microsoft 365 Fundamentals (MS-900) certification is respected in nearly every field, from writing and teaching, to business and technology. This certificate proves that you understand cloud concepts; core Microsoft 365 services; security, compliance, and privacy issues; and Microsoft 365 pricing and support. It’s free while you’re a student at Pitt. Save yourself the hundred bucks, and do it now.
Get a Little Help Learning Professional Tech Skills
Not sure how to get started using Teams? Need a little guidance in the more advanced features of Microsoft 365 apps? Want to learn the tips and tricks for rocking a LinkedIn profile? Not sure how to get Microsoft certified? No need to do it all on your own. That’s what the Tech Ambassadors are for. Tech Ambassadors are students, just like you, who have learned all about the tech services available to students through Pitt IT and want to help you get the most out of them. Gather together some friends or a club, and ask them to come talk to you about whatever topic you’re interested in!
--By Vivian Zauhar, PITT IT Student Blogger