Digital skills are the ability to use new technologies, devices, applications, and networks with knowledge of the facts. To do with what? Well, here the possibilities are almost endless and depend on everyone’s needs and the areas in which they are used.
Although in recent years the question of acquiring digital skills has become increasingly topical and pressing, above all due to the delay with which the issue of digital diffusion and related investments was (not) addressed compared to other forward-thinking countries, digital skills have been at the heart of our economy for decades. Exactly since the ever faster and more entrenched introduction of computers, networks, servers, and electronic communications has required the presence of professionals capable of dealing with these “things”.
Today the situation has changed. Digital technology is part of our lives. And what used to be the talent of a few has become a normal necessity, without which we risk being cut off. Both personally and, above all, professionally.
In this article, we will explore the topic of digital skills and how these can make a difference in the search for a new job or the improvement of an already structured professionalism. In the meantime, if you are interested in quickly expanding your digital knowledge, take a look at our master’s with a guaranteed internship.
In this article, you will be able to discover:
- what digital competence consists of;
- basic digital skills;
- the most advanced digital skills;
- the importance of digital soft skills;
- what to write on your CV in the “digital skills” section.
What are digital skills?
There are various definitions of digital skills, given by very authoritative public and governmental institutions and bodies, these are broad but very theoretical definitions. Which also refers to aspects that we are not interested in dealing with in this study.
Generically, digital competence consists in the ability to use new technologies, whether they are computers, smartphones, software, or applications, correctly and reap the benefits for which they were created, for oneself or for the company, or organization for which one is working.
There is a passage, present in the description of digital skills given by Unesco, to which we want to draw your attention:
“…digital skills enable people to create and share digital content, communicate, collaborate, and solve problems for effective and creative self-fulfillment, in life, work, learning, and social activities in general”.
Developing or improving digital skills is therefore a fundamental step for anyone who intends to grow professionally or, more simply, wants to take advantage of the advantages that technology can assure them once it has been tried and understood. Leaving aside other aspects, how comfortable is it to deal with bureaucratic matters sitting on the sofa at home instead of huddled in line? Or monitor aspects of your work through technology, saving time and optimizing the expected results?
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These are just examples of the benefits that the development of digital skills can bring. In the coming years, the number of professions that require digital knowledge will gradually increase, as will the areas in which it will be possible to apply this knowledge.
Now let’s go into detail and find out what digital skills are and their areas of application.
Basic digital skills
Digital skills have different levels of depth. And these depend not only on what a person has learned in the course of his life and on the experiences he has had to face or on the needs he has had to satisfy. They also depend on the social and cultural context in which he lived. For digital natives, for example, basic digital skills can almost be taken for granted. While for previous generations the speech could be different.
Basic digital knowledge, suitable for a normal professional or personal context, are:
- connection to the Internet and use of a browser to navigate, awareness of the need to adopt security systems such as passwords;
- communicate with others by sending emails, including with attachments, and through social media;
- use of search engines to find information, with the awareness that not all contents on the net are reliable;
- creating accounts to purchase and use goods or services, filling in forms, and using secure payment methods;
- search for solutions to problems through questions, chats, tutorials, or improvement of productivity through special software;
- safe storage and sharing of various data, updating and precautions against viruses, malware, etc.
The 4 most in-demand advanced digital skills
Above you have been able to see what the basic digital skills are, which you probably use daily, for work, or in private. Unfortunately, especially in the professional field, being familiar with browsers, emails, and antivirus may no longer be enough.
If you have a company or intend to open one, or if you are a professional who wants to expand your possibilities and prospects, you may need:
- Create original content to make yourself known;
- Extend the sale of your products and services online;
- Engage on social media to build communities of people who follow and like you;
- Understand how your business is progressing through the analysis of the data and the results obtained.
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And this is true not only if you take care of everything directly, but also if you delegate this type of activity to internal staff or external collaborators. Having even just a basic knowledge of the possibilities that exist, of the technologies, of the software, of the tools available, could help you to avoid investing in bankruptcy or insignificant initiatives for your business.
With the most advanced digital skills, you enter the field of specialization. Those who decide to study and update themselves in this field do so because they are looking for a leap in professional quality, with all that such a decision entails in terms of satisfaction and fulfillment.
Technological evolution concerns many areas and, in each of them, advanced digital knowledge can find various applications. Below we will look at some of the more interesting ones.
1. Web/app programming and development
It all starts here. At the heart of any digital product or service are development and programming. And the different languages and codes that allow you to build any web page or specific application. We interact with both of them daily and for this very reason, digital skills of this type are among the most sought-after by employers.
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In this context, the knowledge that allows the development of technologies concerning augmented reality and virtual reality is also proving to be increasingly in demand.
2. Digital marketing
Since the Internet has revolutionized the way of communicating and managing relationships, both private and professional, marketing has also changed. To make themselves known and promote products and services, companies have begun to use, and are increasingly using, tools and strategies that require specific knowledge.
Among the most in-demand digital skills in digital marketing are:
- SEO (Search engine optimization) and SEM (Search engine marketing): the former deal with the organic (unpaid) optimization of resources for search engines and the latter with the paid positioning of the same;
- Social media marketing: through which social networks are used to promote a company and/or its products and services;
- Content marketing: with which you create valuable and relevant content to attract the attention of potential customers;
- UX-UI (User experience and User interface): concerns the study and creation of the “experience” that a person has about a product or service and the use of the interface for digital products or services;
- E-Commerce: everything related to the sale of products and services through the web and apps;
- Email marketing: email is used to send commercial and non-commercial messages and content to an audience of potential customers.
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3. Data science and analytics
Compared to the pre-digital era, today it is possible to collect and archive an enormous amount of data in a rather simple and fast way. Through the data, it is possible to understand the behavior patterns of the people who interact with digital platforms daily.
This allows companies and organizations of all kinds to constantly monitor not only user behavior to create and optimize their promotional and non-promotional initiatives but also to keep their progress under control and make the right choices.
The more technological development spreads and permeates our lives, the more digital skills related to data science and analysis become important. And so are the figures of Data scientists and Data analysts who own them.
4. Artificial Intelligence
Don’t imagine the classic sentient robot of cinematic memory but something much more concrete, with which you have probably already dealt without knowing it.
Among the advanced digital knowledge, those concerning artificial intelligence are among the most recent and fascinating and play a rather important role in the organization of modern companies. Thanks to AI it is possible to teach “machines” to carry out jobs and make decisions independently, based on rules and calculations decided based on data and past experiences.
The introduction of automation in business processes is becoming increasingly important because it allows you to increase efficiency and improve results while reducing costs.
Digital skills in this area may concern, just to name a few:
- Data visualization;
- CRM Software;
- Web or app development;
- Marketing automation.
The importance of soft skills in digital
Historically the so-called hard skills (that is, the technical skills that a person possesses and can make available to a company ) have been considered the first element on which to base the selection of a candidate for a job position.
But today, with the advent of digital, things are changing. And, indeed, just in the digital environment, technical knowledge alone is no longer enough. They must necessarily be accompanied by soft skills and transversal skills.
While hard skills concern a person’s ability to carry out a specific task and include specific technical skills, soft skills concern the person’s attitude and the way they experience work: how they adapt, how they collaborate, how they approach problems, their ability to solve them, how he makes decisions.
Now let’s see what are, in the digital field but not only, the transversal skills you need to have in order not to limit your potential:
- Adaptability and flexibility: knowing how to adapt to changes and being open to new ideas and perspectives allows you to have greater satisfaction and fewer problems. Approaching a new situation or a particular problem as an opportunity and a challenge can make you grow professionally (and not only);
- Ability to collaborate: companies increasingly value the ability to integrate and collaborate profitably with others; it is necessary to be able to give one’s contribution but, at the same time, listen to other points of view from which to draw useful ideas for common growth;
- Creativity and innovation: it is the ability to bring new ideas into the company and to think outside the box, both in managing normal activities and in solving problems or planning for the future;
- Persuasion: it’s not for everyone but it’s a skill that can be worked on, to improve it; it consists of knowing how to communicate effectively to colleagues, bosses, and stakeholders that it is in their interest to listen to you. The key to becoming a point of reference, someone capable of influencing others, is knowing how to understand how the other thinks and acts. What he is motivated by and what he intends to achieve;
- Emotional intelligence: consists of knowing how to perceive, evaluate and, consequently, act based on one’s own emotions and those of others. By tuning in to our emotions and those of those who work with us, we can modify our behavior and our reactions to bring benefits to productivity and the life of the company.
3 ways to acquire digital skills
So far we have seen together what digital skills consist of and which digital skills are most in demand by companies. But how to acquire them? How is it possible to build a good store of digital knowledge, even starting from scratch?
Below I will explain how it is possible to become competent in the digital field, especially by exploiting the opportunities that have multiplied in recent years thanks to digital and online innovation.
Learn from others
The first thing to do for those starting from scratch and intending to understand if a specific discipline can be right for them is to read and study what those who started before us have to teach us. And they have the experience necessary to transmit not only information and knowledge but also to make us understand if the area we have chosen is the right one for us.
By searching on Google for keywords related to the sector that interests us, you will be able to access various types of content. The same thing if instead of a search engine, you will use social networks. The “network”, if you know how to exploit it correctly, is a real mine of information, data, and resources through which not only to get an idea but, in some cases, also to deepen, above all the theoretical part.
To practice and test what has been acquired, it is instead necessary to follow other paths, let’s see them.
One of the advantages of online is certainly the freedom to carry out many activities from home, remotely. Among these, enrolling and following courses without having to move from the place where you are, is one of those that have gained a foothold in recent years. Thanks to webcams, microphones, and group video calls, it is possible to reproduce, almost entirely, the experience of the courses held in physical classrooms.
Specialized companies and professionals organize courses of all kinds, from those designed for beginners to more advanced ones. Searching the net you will find numerous opportunities and a wide choice. It will then be up to you to decide which one to choose, based on the cost, the teaching methods, and the disciplines taught.
Courses, if done well, are certainly the best way to learn and immediately put into practice. They ensure that you learn what the market requires and allow you to meet industry experts. Immediately focusing your attention and your efforts on what you need.
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Another way to learn and, above all, improve and strengthen one’s digital skills is to use the numerous channels and tools available to test and put the theoretical part into practice. Depending on the field chosen, there are software, applications, and tools, often free, with which you can initially have a fun, experiment, and gradually refine your skills and knowledge.
For example, if the field you have chosen is that of digital marketing, you can use social networks to start creating content and check the level of interaction of your posts. With completely free tools you can edit images and videos, gradually discovering what your followers like and dislike.
You can do the same if you are interested in web development. You can start building your site or blog through WordPress and fill it with content. You will learn, by making mistakes and by testing.
Various free tools allow you to analyze the data and results of your activity or to automate certain processes useful for improving and speeding up your productivity.
How to include digital skills in the curriculum
Compiling a resume is never a simple thing. To do it well, you need to know how to condense a lot of information into one or two pages. Trying to convey simplicity and clarity through a pleasant graphic design and a well-structured hierarchical organization.
As for the digital skills domain, the challenge becomes even more complicated because all disciplines are relatively new. There are still no “official” conventions on CV drafting and often the same recruiters, external or internal to the company, have a summary preparation on the subject.
Below we will see some tips on how to write a CV by bringing out your digital knowledge.
Think of your CV as the homepage of a website
Just like the landing page or homepage of a website, the resume should be aesthetically pleasing, easy to “navigate”, rich in keywords in line with the position you are applying for, and easily found.
If you imagine your CV as a product “to be sold”, you will have to focus on the characteristics that distinguish you and on the advantages that your work can give to the company. Just as it happens when you find yourself in front of a clear, pleasant to look and well-structured site, in the same way, a CV with these qualities will increase the chances that whoever reads it will become curious and want to know more by contacting you.
Who are you addressing?
When writing a curriculum vitae you have to consider that only a part of potential readers will have a good preparation in the digital field. A large percentage of recruiters will have little or no digital skills or just generic training.
Aware of this, you will have to limit the “technical” aspects and concentrate, instead, on the results and improvements obtained, when possible. Doing so will ensure you get the attention of more people and increase your chances of standing out.
Who are you?
As in the “About Us” page of a website, describe yourself clearly and concisely, using simple words and avoiding redundant ones. Limit yourself to a few lines and bring out your digital and transversal skills so that the reader can quickly understand the quality of the product (you). Don’t be generic but describe well which channels you have expertise and experience in (Social media, email marketing, SEO, Analytics).
Let yourself be found
Use the skills section to enter keywords that help your CV be found and understood. And include as many as possible, relevant to your work. In the digital field, in addition to the specific knowledge you possess and for which you present yourself, it is useful to have (and mention) basic skills in other related disciplines.
Just as the top of a web page is the most important, in the same way, the disciplines in which you are strongest and have the most experience must be placed higher. Use bullet points for clarity.
Highlight the results obtained
Today it is no longer sufficient to indicate the channels on which one operates but it is important to communicate the results obtained on those channels. Increased followers, traffic, conversions, and sales allow even the unprepared to understand that you did well before and that you could also do well in the future. The results obtained are a very convincing weapon.
Use the bullet points to insert the various experiences, taking care to indicate, for each one, the name of the company, the period, the type of work carried out, the situation before your arrival, and the improvements obtained subsequently. To give greater prominence it is always useful to insert numbers and percentages, which give credibility and convey authority.
As you have discovered by reading this article, digital skills, while differing according to the degree of complexity and area of application, are becoming increasingly important. The “basic” ones are now considered essential while the advanced ones see their appeal constantly increase.
The society in which we live and, in it, the world of work and the market change very quickly. New ideas, new tools, and ways of doing things and solving problems require trained people who are always ready to (re)get involved. Request a free consultation now if you intend to improve your digital knowledge to give yourself more opportunities and prospects.
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I direct Digital Coach®, the professional training school, leader in training all professionals who work in the Digital Marketing & Sales field.
As a trainer, I have trained over 35,000 business professionals from over 300 large multinational companies and over 5,000 Italian SMEs.
I devised the “Digital Strategy Framework®” method, thanks to which since 2014 I have been helping companies to define and improve over time a digital strategy that maximizes the generation of turnover and online sales.