Computing technologies have become a core part of the modern workplace, helping companies in a range of industries streamline their internal processes and increase productivity. While this digital transformation has been a net positive for most organizations, it has also had a notable impact on how hiring managers and recruiters prioritize the technical skills and professional experience job applicants bring to the table. For example, a 2017 report from Personetics found that almost half of all financial institutions it surveyed have integrated artificial intelligence and chatbots into their customer-facing workflows. As a result, employees working in customer service roles have had to develop new skill sets that allow them to interact with AI platforms and perform basic data analysis tasks. Since the trend toward automation shows no signs of slowing down, it's important for HR departments to start onboarding candidates with the tech savvy and hard skills they will need for the future of work.
Technology skills are no longer complementary qualifications
In the past, many recruiters treated technology skills as supplementary competencies that added to a candidate's existing qualifications. While education, work history and technical expertise are still as relevant as ever, employers have begun seeking out applicants who have particular computer proficiencies and the ability to adapt to new digital environments. Even employees who do not work in IT roles should possess certain basic tech skills (email, word processing, data entry, etc.) that are essential to working in the modern era.
In 2017, Burning Glass Technologies released a comprehensive study into the digital skills employers are prioritizing to help companies reframe their perspectives on the importance of tech-savvy employees and update their hiring practices. The report largely focused on the middle-skill job market, finding that more than 82% of all employment opportunities in this category require digital skills. In fact, close to 38% of overall job postings in the U.S. are for middle-skill jobs that involve computer literacy, illustrating that tech skills are quickly becoming a minimum requirement in most industries. But which specific proficiencies should recruiters be on the lookout for?
4 tech skills every hiring manager should ask about
While most employers have equipped their human resources departments with automated tools to improve the efficiency of their hiring practices, interviewers still play a crucial role in assessing the qualifications of talented candidates. Here are five technology skills hiring managers should look out for during the interview process:
- Microsoft Office: In addition to Word and PowerPoint, recruiters should also ask about an applicant's experience with Microsoft Excel. These programs have become a core part of a functioning workplace and can help differentiate candidates who may possess similar work experience and educational backgrounds.
- Social media: The ability to adapt online communications to target audiences through social analytics is essential to any digital marketing campaign. Employees who are asked to contribute to their companies' social media strategies should have a firm grasp of industry best practices and how to utilize these platforms to capitalize on popular trends and business opportunities.
- HTML/CSS: While coding is not a requirement for most positions, an understanding of how websites and applications operate on the back-end is becoming increasingly important. For example, graphic designers and digital marketers often leverage programming experience to ensure their content is optimized and properly displayed.
- Data analytics: In the Age of Information, employees in every department must be able to recognize how data impacts their organizations. This is especially true for companies that rely heavily on their websites for external communications and direct sales, as conversion rates and bounce rates often play a significant role in their profitability.
One of the best ways to onboard tech savvy candidates is to administer basic computer and Microsoft Office skills tests during the application process. These evaluation tools can help hiring managers accurately assess the competencies of job seekers and identify workers who can add immediate value to their organizations.