If you’re not a specialist such as an engineer, doctor or lawyer, the key to landing a good, well-paying job seems to be adding some basic digital skills to your resume.

A recent study by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario found that ‘Computer Use’ was a required skill in 74% of all job postings on Workopolis and other Canadian job listing sources. While the exact phrase ‘computer use’ doesn’t necessarily turn up in job postings, references to using computers, common software programs, and other forms of technology combined appear in 74% of all job ads.

Furthermore, ‘document use’ – research and writing, as well as grammar, word processing, and spreadsheet abilities – skills related to the creation, transmission, and management of files appear in 58% of job ads.

Canadian employers want candidates who can use computers to create documents and spreadsheets, store, sort, organize and share large volumes of information.

Another new study by Burning Glass just this week confirms how vital these abilities are on the job market right now. Burning Glass’s information comes from their database of online job postings, which includes nearly 100 million worldwide job postings collected since 2007. According to their report, for most middle skills jobs – the roles that are seeing the most growth right now in terms of pay and job creation, including occupations in healthcare, technology, and operations – having spreadsheet and word-processing software such as Microsoft Excel and Word can make the difference in getting hired.

Middle skill jobs are defined as those roles that require some education but not necessarily a university degree or specific certification.

Other commonly required computer skills are also software such as Oracle and SAP, which large companies use to manage information in finance and human resources, and more advanced digital capabilities including customer relationship management (CRM) software and higher-end computer networking skills.

Burning Glass notes that more and more jobs are requiring these skills, and that candidates who do not have them risk being left behind. Digital skills have become essential for office and administrative positions, retail supervisors, and store managers, among others.

All roles in Marketing now require digital skills. ‘Digital Marketing’ used to be considered a unique skillset, but technology and the ways that people communicate have evolved such that it is no longer a sub-sector or marketing but an essential part of any strategy. Similarly in Finance, Sales, Customer Service, and most other roles, effective use of basic computer programs can be the price of admission.

Nearly 80% of middle skills jobs require digital skills. Burning Glass reports, “Effectively, entire segments are off-limits to people who don’t have basic digital skills.” The report goes on to say that middle-skill jobs requiring digital proficiency also pay 18% more on average than those roles that don’t have a computer component.

Baseline skills in job postings

    Customer Service
    Organizational Skills
    Computer skills*
    Problem Solving
    Building Effective Relationships

*The most-commonly required computer skills:

    Microsoft Excel
    Microsoft Word
    Microsoft PowerPoint

Wanted Analytics is reporting one more technical skills gap on the market right now. According to their research, most new jobs created in 2015 will require digital and social media skills.

Social media skills are becoming essential for an increasingly wide-range of roles beyond community managers, including Human Resources, Sales, Designers and Developers, and of course Marketing.

However, most companies lack the social media skills they need. One of the reasons for this is that employers frequently assume that Millennials and recent university grads will be savvy enough to do the job. While recent college grads may be very familiar with social media, they do not necessarily know how to apply it to the business world.

Keeping up with the trends and technologies of how people communicate and share information is essential for career success. Once upon a time, reading and writing were considered the basic skills for most jobs. Digital literacy has become the new literacy.

Highlight your proficiency and accomplishments in creating spreadsheets, presentations and social media connections on your resume. You’ll stand out from all the candidates who don’t by showcasing some of the hottest, most in-demand skills right now.


Peter Harris
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