5 Free and Easy Ways To Improve Your Computer Skills

5 Free and Easy Ways To Improve Your Computer Skills

Do you have the computer skills you need to succeed at work? Are you concerned that you’re not a competitive candidate to get hired or promoted?  If you need to improve your computer skills, there are free resources you can use to upgrade your skills and boost your career. There are many opportunities for learning both computer basics and advanced skills, both in-person and online.

Get the Skills You Need to Succeed

With technology becoming part of almost every workplace, having basic computer hardware and software skills is more important than ever. There are some basic computer skills every worker needs to have regardless of their job. And there are others that will help you get hired and promoted as you grow your career.

Employers will be looking for computer skills on your resume and job applications, which means you need to know how to use a computer when you’re on the job. 

There are many ways you can get the skills you need to boost your career, including free online courses and in-person classes that help you build your skill set to grow your career.

How To Improve Your Computer Skills

Here are five free and easy ways to improve your computer skills.

1. Identify what you need to learn.

Basic Skills Every Employee Needs: Almost every employee needs some computer skills, regardless of their job. Take the time to review the basic skills you’ll need to succeed in the workplace, and then plan how you’ll learn what you need to get hired or promoted.

Tip: CareerOneStop has a training directory with various programs to help you get the skills you need to advance your career.

Use Skills Matching Tools: You can use free tools to match your interests (and the skills you already have) to possible job options. These skills-matching tools will help you learn about occupations, the educational requirements for the job, and how to get the skills you need to get hired.

Check Job Descriptions: Most likely, you only have so much free time to dedicate to learning a new skill. Accordingly, it’s important to use that time wisely. Whether you’re looking to pivot your career or level up within your current field, analyzing the job description of your ideal position is a great way to identify what skills employers are looking for and the tools you should know how to use.

Tip: A job description’s “Requirements” section is generally a good place to find this information.

Check With Your Network: Networking is another great way to discover what technical skills other people in your field have or what software and apps they use on a day-to-day basis. This can be accomplished with a simple question, such as “Have you learned any new skills lately that have helped you in your job?” or “What’s your favorite software or app that you regularly use for work?”

Research Online: In addition, you can also find much of this information online. For example, if you are a customer service representative, you might search for “customer service software.” Keep an eye out for the specific products that appear in your results. Capterra, a software review company, is another helpful resource for identifying standard tools in your trade.

Review Top Skills List: Not sure where to start? The specific skills you need are highly dependent on your position and your field, but you can familiarize yourself with this list of top computer skills to start. Also, review some of the best skills to include on your resume.

2. Start with the basics.

While this goes without saying, before you learn any specialized technical skills, at the very least, you need a fundamental understanding of how to use a computer—ideally, both a Windows or Mac. There are many free resources online. Sites like Lifewire, for example, are very helpful in providing comprehensive tutorials.

There are many free (or affordable) computer training events and programs that you can participate in. Check with your local library, community center, or community college to see what they offer. In addition, you can take free Mac courses at an Apple store near you.

If you’re working in an office role, consider getting certified in Microsoft Office to improve your skills and add value to your resume.

3. Learn how computers (and the Internet) work.

While this goes without saying, before you learn any specialized technical skills, at the least, you need a fundamental understanding of what a computer is and how it works. It can be helpful to learn how the Internet works, too.

Now, do you need to master computer science? Absolutely not. But, an elementary understanding of how the technology you use functions provides a strong foundation for future learning.

Here is a list of some free online computer skills lessons that you can start with:


4. Take free online or in-person computer courses.

There are many free resources available you can use to improve your skills, both in-person and online:

In-Person Classes

Be sure to check out offerings in your community, such as at your local public library, community center, community college, or YMCA. You can also search on sites like Meetup or Eventbrite for educational events or groups. If you live in Los Angeles, New York City, or Chicago, CourseHorse is another excellent resource.

Free Online Classes

If you’d rather learn tech skills for free online, there are plenty of ways to do so! You should be able to search on YouTube for almost anything you want to know.

If you’re looking for a more formal learning experience, you can find free college-level courses online on sites like CourseraEdX, and Class-Central. You can also find free introductory courses on sites such as GFCGlobalKhan AcademyCodecademy, and Free Code Camp.

Tip: Here’s an extensive list of free and low-cost online computer classes to get started.

5. Apply what you’ve learned and and get hands-on practice.

If a job description requests familiarity with a specific tool, try to see if there’s a way to get hands-on experience. For example, say a position requires that you know how to use Trello, a project management tool. You could consider ways you might be able to integrate Trello into your current position. If this is not possible, perhaps there’s a case where you could use it in your personal life—like for planning a trip.

Start Using Online Tools: Get as creative as possible so you can learn as much as possible by doing. Need to learn how to use Google Calendar? Start using it to plan and schedule your family’s appointments and activities. Need to know how to use Skype? Create an account and use it to make a video call with someone you haven’t talked to in a while.

Practice Your New Skills: Alternately, if you are learning a skill like graphic design, web design, or development, there are many ways to practice: you can enter contests on 99Designs, or solicit gigs on Fiverr, for example.

Try demos and watch training videos. If you need to be familiar with a paid tool or software that you cannot gain access to, look to see if that app offers a demo or has any training videos on its website. At the very least, you’ll have a chance to garner a basic familiarity with the structure and functionality of the software.

Emphasize Your Abilities: Remember, you should always be honest with an employer about your skills and abilities. Don’t oversell your skills. If you lack a skill listed in the job description, you can always mention that it is something you are currently learning (or intend to learn) and emphasize your ability to pick up new skills quickly.

Bonus Tip: Does your company offer an education stipend?

Be sure to check if your company offers any stipends for their employees’ professional development. There are a lot of high-quality online learning programs available for relatively low costs—LinkedIn Learning, for example, is a great option.

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  • September 11, 2023