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Do you have “computer skills” listed on your resume? Get rid of it, it’s obsolete! I explain in this week’s podcast, or the blog post below.

Download the podcast from iTunes, or play it below:


Over the weekend, I met with a person I’m mentoring. She went to the same college as I did, found me through our alumni network, and wanted to talk about her next job and look over her resume.

One of the things that I saw on there that was interesting, was a section called ‘Computer Skills.’

I went through each of the items and called her on it:
– Adobe Bridge Software?
What is that? Is it important? No. Take it off.
– iMac basic programming?
You mean, you used an iMac computer and did some things? She nodded hesitantly. I asked her, do you REALLY know how to program? She shook her head no. Gone.
- Datanet and Filemaker?
OK, so you used these programs to maintain some files. But are you an expert at it and did you really use them all the time? Not really.
– Google Apps
I don’t mind that it’s on there, but she already used it earlier in the resume, so that one gets removed as well.
– Lastly, Microsoft Office
You graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science degree. You live in New York City. You speak French and Italian.  You’ve managed to send me your resume converted into a PDF. Proving you know Office is pretty much understood.

So that got me to wondering.

For anyone that graduated with a Bachelors degree from the year 2000 and beyond, is the ‘computer skills’ section of your resume completely obsolete?

And if the answer is yes, what goes in its place?

To answer that, we have to go old school for a minute. This is when having myself as your Generation X host comes in handy.

Need I remind you, I graduated in 1991, when there were NO cell phones, NO internet, NO email, and Photoshop 2.0 had just been released. For those keeping score, the concept of Photoshop layers wouldn’t be invented for 5 more years, and they’re basically up to version 12 now.

In my junior year Microsoft Windows 3.0 had just been released, along with Office version 1.0.

Social media? Ha!  Mark Zuckerberg was 7.

So as someone that legitimately graduated with a degree in Computer Information Systems, putting a ‘Computer Skills’ section on your resume really meant something.

When I started doing most of the hiring for the multimedia startup I worked for in 1994, it was a real challenge to determine which people had true computer skills, and which had played a few hundred games of Solitaire on their computer and claimed they knew Windows.

Thus, I came up with a computer test that I gave during interviews to see how people shaped up. It became legendary around the office, as no candidate had ever received a perfect score.

What’s interesting is back then, typing speed was a huge differentiator. You could sit in the conference room with someone in their brand new suit and listen to them smoothly talk about their tech skills, but when you sat them down in front of a keyboard and asked them to drill down into a subdirectory and alt-tab to another open application, you knew right away.

Dug into the archives and actually found my resume from 12 years ago:

Computer skills on my 1998 resume:
HTML, JavaScript, Macromedia Director, Flash, & Dreamweaver, Adobe Photoshop & Premiere, Allaire HomeSite, Netscape Navigator, Microsoft Internet Explorer, SoundForge, InstallShield, Active Movie (MPEG), Video for Windows (AVI), Microsoft Office

Quite the list, right? Several of those are still relevant, but can you imagine listing a web browser as a computer skill these days? No.

Now it’s 2010, and I’m here to argue that ‘computer skills’ are obsolete, and what is more important are ‘social media skills.’ So how do I propose you address this new category?

Here are 7 things you can do to create a modern social media resume:

1) Your resume should be in the following formats:
– Created in Word or a graphics design program. Please, divert from the template at least a little bit… change the font, add some color, something.
– Save it in PDF format. This should be how you distribute it.
– Have a version that is able to be embedded in an email. If someone can’t get attachments, you may lose your chance. Note that you’ll need to go through and re-format bullets, lines, colors, italics and sizes, and replace with caps, asterisks, and spacing.
– Updated and accurate on LinkedIn.com

2) Depending on your job, you might need to list out skills. But if that’s the case, it’s probably not ‘computer skills.’
– If you’re listing things that I call ‘lots of letters’ such as C++, HTML, CSS, PHP, Java, SQL … those should be under programming languages or coding skills.
– If you’re listing programs such as SPSS and MPlus, those are market research skills, not generic computer skills

3) Integrate these skills into your resume bullet points.
– When you say that you ‘Concatenated the quarterly earnings report into multi-tabbed color-coded pivot tables in Excel,’ they’re going to assume you can find your way around a spreadsheet
– When you say you’ve created more than 50 animated banner ads, adhering to client and company specifications and optimized them for the corporate ad server, they get the point that you know Photoshop
– If you’re a sales rep and use salesforce.com or some similar program, put that under a bullet point and not out on it’s own

4) Really emphasize it
– This might be best in a cover letter or during an interview, but if you really really are an expert, feel free to have a little fun with it. Say that you’re so obsessed with Excel, that you also used that multi-tabbed, color-coded, pivot table spreadsheet template to plan your wedding.
– Or if you’re a book editor, say that you spend 20-30 hours per week using Microsoft Word’s ‘track changes’ feature to easily communicate and collaborate with authors what suggestions you have for them

5) Replace ‘Computer Skills’ with ‘Social Media Skills’
The key here is that if you list it, you better back it up. If you do it correctly, however, it can have a great effect. I can picture the following entry on a modern resume:

Social Media Skills
– Skilled in using web-based technologies to transform and broadcast media monologues into social media dialogues
– Fostered the creation and exchange of user-generated content to build value and brand loyalty for my company and reach influential consumers
– Actively maintain a personal Facebook account with more than 500 networking connections, providing a 2-way multimedia conversation: Facebook.com/yourname
– Build a loyal group of 1,300 Twitter fans in just 18 months, providing value, learning from industry experts, and staying current with technology: Twitter.com/yourname
– Explore the latest geolocation technology with Foursquare, connecting with online friends in the real world: foursquare.com/yourname
– Created an online video project using Final Cut Pro for my Team In Training charity group, spreading the word virally and totaling 3,300 hits: youtube.com/yourname
– Embraced my love for photography by uploading more than 400 photos on Flickr, including licensing some for distribution under creative commons; ‘Central Park at Dawn’ photo has been used on 11 blogs and has 124 comments

6) Prove it in a portfolio
I feel that nearly every job-seeker out there – not just marketing or creatives – can benefit by putting together a portfolio.
– Were you just the lowly entry-level person checking names at the door at the big corporate gala? Well, I’m sure that event had a slick-looking invite or web page that you could print out to serve as a talking point for your contribution.
– Are you trying for your next accounting job in the finance department? Bring along one of your well-organized spreadsheets, showing how neatly you organize your numbers and graphs (changing any private company data)
– Bragging about your Powerpoint prowess? Throw in several example slides from your last few projects, using it as a talking point for why you chose the layout, the font, and the imagery

7) Prove it digitally
– It has the chance to backfire, but a well-produced video introduction will also go a long way to distinguish yourself from the competition (How NOT to do it below).

– The resume of the future will take place on the web. If you don’t own your name as a URL, grab it right now. Name taken? Try YourNameResume.com
Check out this as great example from Rohit Bhargava.
– Better yet, have you ever spoken at an event, done a podcast, or given a great presentation? Communication skills are paramount in the business world. If you can prove it, you can nail it.
– Are you a designer? How about presenting your resume or your latest project as a colorful Infographic?

(Graphic copyright JeffMcNeill via Flickr)
– Lastly, I’m proud that two of my former interns recently used a portfolio on the iPad during an interview to showcase what they’ve done. It shows they’re up on the latest technology, and it looked tremendous.

So to sum up, go ahead and drop that heading of ‘Computer Skills’ from your resume and do one or more of the following:

  1. Create your resume in multiple formats
  2. If you do have a lot of specific skills, they can probably filed under programming skills or design skills or another category
  3. Integrate these skills into your resume bullet points
  4. If you’re a true expert and are going to list it, really emphasize it
  5. Replace ‘Computer Skills’ with ‘Social Media Skills’
  6. Prove it in a portfolio
  7. Prove it digitally

Doing so well set yourself apart in the digital age. Good luck.

The latest addition of WIRED magazine app on the iPad is out. You like Will Ferrell? Well, there are exclusive videos of him – only on the iPad, so be sure to check it out. As always, thanks for reading/listening.

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