What is Digital Literacy? How Can the Skills Gap Affect My Career?

what is digital literacy

What is Digital Literacy?

Digital Literacy refers to a person’s ability to identify, evaluate, and compose clear information and messaging across online platforms. These include internet applications, software, search tools, and even smartphones. In today’s digitally-driven job market, understanding how to effectively utilize digital technology has become a critical skill in nearly all industries and job functions.

How Does the Skills Gap Affect Job Seekers?

Technology continues to fuel many of the fastest-growing industries and job trends. A recent report from LinkedIn showed more than half of emerging jobs focused on highly technical areas like software engineering, artificial intelligence, sales development, and customer success.

For professionals outside of those industries, building digital fluency is still a critical component in career advancement. A lack of technical skills can serve as a barrier to entering the workforce, achieving career mobility, or transitioning into a new field.

Primary/secondary, and higher education have become fierce advocates for digital literacy, with classroom technology tools continually evolving alongside a growing need for students to build technical proficiency early-on. Teaching students the fundamentals of software and digital media tools for finding, sharing, and citing information has become a curriculum staple.

While each industry has its own set of digital tools and technology, there are plenty of skills and proficiencies that will boost any job seekers’ marketability.

For one, proficiency in standard office tools like Microsoft Office, email applications, and search engines are essentially a requirement for most roles. But most professionals would benefit from broadening their proficiency in technologies like social media, team communications platforms (i.e. Slack), project management tools, graphics/media software, spreadsheets, and presentation tools that support communication and idea-sharing.

How Does the Skills Gap Affect Employers?

Job seekers aren’t the only ones for whom digital literacy is a key topic. From an employer perspective, the skills gap among talent continues to grow, increasing the necessity for organizations to provide skill-based training opportunities in order to build strong teams. This is challenging in considering the broad spectrum of digital tools, software, and platforms used in today’s workplace, as well as the diversity of learning styles among employees.

Building teams equipped with the right digital skills ultimately contributes to growth in productivity, innovation, and business success. Research conducted by Accenture reported that while nearly 80% of business leaders expected their organizations to be digital, only 49% had strategies in place to help employees develop the digital skills needed to achieve the company’s goals and succeed in the market.

The Future of Work: Digital Literacy by the Numbers

The need for proficiency in digital skills, technology, and media platforms continues to grow across all sectors. “Middle-skill” jobs – those that require more than a high school diploma but less than a 4-year degree – account for nearly 40% of all job postings. A similar report from Burning Glass Technologies reported that 80% of middle-skill jobs required digital skills in order to better serve customers and the organization.

This referred to everyday tools like spreadsheets, word processing, medical billing and coding, and communications software. But it also expands to more complicated areas like web browsers, search engines, text messaging, blogs, and video/graphics editing software.

Candidates with higher levels of digital proficiency ranked among the top quartiles of earners as opposed to those without such skill sets, and had greater access to higher-skilled jobs that paid more.

How to Increase Your Digital Skills

Fortunately, there is no shortage of online and offline resources for learning new skills and building proficiency in digital tools and technology. Online learning platforms like Linda.com, Skillshare, and LinkedIn Learning provide cost-effective, accessible tutorials for everything from social media, to blogging, graphic design, search engine optimization, and Excel.

For those who learn better through an instructor-led, in-person approach – community centers, local colleges, and educational organizations like General Assembly offer numerous courses on a broad range of digital topics and technologies.

Working directly with a career coach offers a more customized, one-on-one approach with the benefit of focusing on specific challenges and opportunity areas.

Showcasing Digital Literacy in Your Resume and Cover Letters

In the broader scheme of hiring and job searching, digital literacy is a fairly new concept. And this poses a challenge to job seekers in terms of how to represent and sell these skills effectively on a resume and in a cover letter.

Create a Separate Skills Section

Skills that speak to software proficiency, social media, and other digital proficiencies can be placed under a separate skills section at the beginning or end of the resume. Be sure to list all tools you’re familiar with, and noting your level of expertise (basic, intermediate, advanced) can also help an employer better assess your capabilities.

SKILLS
Advanced proficiency in MS Office (PowerPoint, Excel, Word), Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign), and Salesforce; Basic proficiency in Slack, QuickBooks, and SEO.

List Out Skills By Type

If your range of digital skills is broad, consider breaking out your skills section based on type. This can include Technical Skills/Software, Languages, or skills specific to a particular function (i.e. marketing or project management).

SKILLS
Software: MS Office, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Visio
Coding: HTML, CSS, JavaScript
Project Management: Slack, Asana, Trello
Social Media: Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Hootsuite
Languages: Fluent in Spanish; Basic Italian

Always strive to match the skills and language in your resume and cover letter with that of the job description. Doing so will boost your chances of getting your resume through the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and attracting the attention of hiring managers.

What Next?

In addition to creating a resume that effectively highlights your digital literacy, we can also help you identify critical skill gaps that may be holding you back in your job search. Contact us to learn more.