It’s not good enough to be computer-illiterate
I don’t care what industry you work in, or if you think you have what it takes to excel in that industry; you’re not up to the job if you can’t use a computer properly. I’m not talking about being able to programme web sites or write code, though that stuff can probably find use in many walks of life. But knowing how to differentiate various file formats, understanding high-res versus low-res and being able to compress files is essential for almost any white-collar job out there. If you can’t do it, you’re not good at your job.
I say this because I’ve recently come into professional contact with a number of people who, aside from not being able to provide me with what I need, sometimes have no idea what I’m talking about. I actually work very closely with a technological moron, but that’s okay, because she’s a co-worker and we have an understanding by which I’ll help her out and she’ll learn. This benefits the company as a whole. But when I’m dealing with employees from other companies, I fail to see how it’s my job to explain basic IT.
When you do deal with someone who can’t fulfill your needs simply because they can’t work out which buttons to click, it comes across as seriously unprofessional. Yet we tolerate it. Why? Because, more often than not, you’re dealing with a pretty girl who’ll flick her hair, flutter her eyelids and smile as she says she doesn’t understand computers. This makes the man feel superior, and so he tolerates it. It’s pathetic on both sides.
Now, let’s not get bogged down into a debate about sexism here. I’m not saying that all women are computer-illiterate any more than I’m saying that all men are computer-geniuses. Unfortunately, though, in my experience, the ones who play the technological bimbo card are usually women. It’s just the way it is. If a man said to you, “Sorry, I don’t really understand all this computer stuff,” what would you do? You’d think he was incompetent.
Which is precisely why the technological bimbo card should no longer be accepted as a form of professional currency. If you’re applying for a job which involves spending a lot of time on the computer, then you need to know how to use it relatively well. This is because the people you’ll be dealing with will know how to use computers relatively well.
You need to know, for example, how to convert .docx documents into .doc ones. You need to know the difference between a PDF and a JPEG, or between a GIF and PNG. You need to know how to zip a folder, and then how to unzip it. If you’re often asked to send large files over the internet, you need to work out a better way of doing it than via Yousendit.com. Why not experiment with Dropbox or WeTransfer?
You need to know how to make documents look aesthetically pleasing; presentation matters and you can no longer rely simply on the quality of your information. You need to have well-organised folders; not an unfathomable kaleidoscope of desktop icons and downloaded files. You need to research easy-to-use applications that will increase your productivity and make your working life easier. None of this stuff is complicated. Indeed, it’s all designed to be as simple as possible.
Most of all, though, you need to come across as if you know what you’re talking about. Or, if you don’t, you have to come up with a valid excuse as to why you don’t. Simply saying that you don’t get on with technology isn’t good enough anymore, because all it says about you is that you’ve fallen behind with the dinosaurs of this world. And in a dynamic, computer-based, professional environment, that kind of image won’t cut it.