Technology Acumen and Career Marketability

August 26, 2015


We'll cut to the chase.  If you want to be marketable in your career, you'll need to develop technology acumen.  What does that mean?  What it doesn't mean is that you have to know how to manage a mainframe the size of France; what it does mean is that you should be comfortable with moderate levels of technology, whether that be effectively using smartphones, comfortably navigating computers (beyond surfing the Internet), or understanding trends and changes in the technology world.


When you submit for jobs, your resume needs to reflect the level of proficiency you have for various aspects of technology.  Did you successfully set up an in-office database to track customer information?  Your resume should note that.  Did you manage the Sharepoint site for your team?  List it.  Were you the Excel guru, the go-to person for all things spreadsheet management?  Why not talk about that?


So here are some technology skills or tools that we suggest that you add to your repertoire. 


Microsoft Excel


The 21st century is marked as the point in human history when it is no longer acceptable to say that you aren't good with numbers or that you're just not a math person.  If you identify with those two statements, we strongly suggest you to take up some classes.


Why?  Because in both the business and academic world, you're going to be dealing with numbers with increasing frequency and complexity.  You don't have to understand linear algebra; you have Microsoft Excel to do that for you.  You just have to know the right input to make the program work.


Excel is an excellent program to treat data and give you meaningful output.  For example, if you are an operations manager of a call center, you're going to be concerned with the productivity of your supervisors and representatives of the center.  Things like average speed of answer, average hold time, after-call work are what contribute to the success of your environment.  You can understand how much you are meeting those benchmarks for success by looking at the data output of the metrics values.  Are you meeting your goals?  Excel can tell you.  What would output look likfe if you changed one variable in the metrics?  Excel can tell you that.  How productive are the supervisors?  Again, it's an Excel speciality.


Computer Programming


To be specific, we're not suggesting that you take full-on courses in computer programming so you can spend the rest of your life coding.  Not at all.  If you're not a coder, you're not a coder; that's okay.  But the foundations of computer programming are data and numbers, with a bit of science thrown in there.


What's great about programming is that you learn logic and how to use it to get the results that you want.  This logic is what you can take with you anywhere in the world.  With programming, you also understand the value of dependencies.  For example, in your essay, you may be arguing the following


Since X is true, Y must also be true


By the way, this dependency is what we covered in our posting about how the thesis statement works.


So how does this help you in your career?  First, you get an understanding of data.  Data acumen is increasingly a necessity in jobs.  Also, you learn to appreciate data and determine how meaningful it is to your project.


And again, you learn logic.  This can help you in troubleshooting inevitable issues that will arise in your duties.  It can help you when writing business proposals or cases.  Even if you're starting your own business, it can help you with your business plan.


Data Analysis


Like in the above section, understanding and appreciating data will give you an advantage over others vying for your job or that promotion that you're interested in.  Data drives all companies; people who can understand that data to help steer the company in an optimal direction will be a sought-after skill.


Data analysis is linked to operations management.  You use data to make operational adjustments to your team, department, or company.  Data can tell you if a process is underperforming and, thus, needs adjustments or outright deletion.  Data can help executives steer the company in a way that will increase customer satisfaction.




If you don't know how to use these, you'll want to get on the bandwagon--quickly.  Smartphones are the optimal devices to allow you to stay connected to the world, for you to get a continual stream of data and information to help you make decisions on the go, or to keep you abreast of what's happening in the world.  You can manage your ever-growing list of contacts.  You can manage your day with a calendar that you can update on the spot.


This won't be a posting about whether it's better to have an Android, iPhone, or Windows Phone.  Whatever choice you make, become intimately acquainted with the device's features and benefits.


Cloud Computing


The cloud is important and is becoming a tool that companies use to manage stored data; the cloud also can be used for its ability to increase the computing processing of servers and mainframes.  Although you're not required to be a cloud-computing expert, you will want to know how to navigate cloud environments.  An example of such an environment is SharePoint.  Many companies use it to manage libraries of data to be accessed by various departments of a company.




There's much more that you can add to your arsenal; these are just some important tools that you'll want to know about.  You don't have to go it alone, though.  There are Youtube videos to provide guidance in acclimatizing, books you can read, or networks you can join to gain greater information.

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