What You Need: Decent technology and the skills to use it — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

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It probably shouldn’t need to be said, but if you want to succeed in your career today – any career – you need a decent computer, a decent phone, a decent Internet connection and the technological skills to use them all. Trying to build your career without these tools is a tremendous handicap and will have you spending your life playing “catch up” to all the others who have had technology and learned how to use it. You need to have these same tools at your disposal to keep you productive and connected to the world. We live in a world that requires technology and you should do your best to engage in it.



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Today it is easy and cheap to get decent, usable, technology. Computers cost a fraction what they did when I first started my career. Consider the fact that a 4MB upgrade for my original Mac Plus cost me over $400 and a 20MB hard disk was around $200. You can walk into nearly any electronics or office store — or search online — and find very capable computer systems for $400-$500. In most cases, this new computer will have more speed, more memory and more hard drive space than you will ever need, unless you are doing audio or video editing. Smartphones now come cheap with subsidized cell phone plans. You can even get an older model iPhone for free in some cases. Add to that all the great Android phones on the market and there really is no excuse for not having a decent smartphone to help you manage your life and work.

Notice my use of the word “decent” here. You need not spend thousands of dollars for high-end technology. In most cases, you are simply paying a premium for the name on the box. Purchase in the mid-range on price and capability and you will do well. You’ll get plenty of computing power without breaking your bank account. Of course, I would also caution you to not buy the cheapest technology you can find, either. Cheap equipment will fail often and quickly and means spending more money overall than if you had purchased a more expensive computer or smartphone in the first place. Don’t be seduced by cheap. It will only come back to haunt you.

I know that there might be a small number of you who cannot afford any technology. Perhaps your financial situation is dire due to unemployment, health or family issues. I understand it can be difficult to get the technology you need. Still, you need to do your utmost to bring technology into your life so you can use it to better your situation.

First, take advantage of any services provided by your community. Look to your local library for computer access. With the creation of cloud services such as Google Docs/Drive, Gmail and others, you can perform a lot of tasks without having a computer of your own. These cloud services allow you access to your files and information from whatever computer you might have available — including friends, family and other organizations.

Next, look for friends and family who might be able to pass down their older technology to you. I recently inherited a fairly current Android phone and an iPhone 4s from some of my clients who were upgrading their devices. These devices are still greatly functional, even without a cellular data plan. In larger cities, free public WiFi is becoming nearly ubiquitous and you’ll find that these devices can give you near-cell phone capabilities using only these free systems. They could provide a great leap in your connectivity if you don’t have the ability to purchase something outright.

Computer Skills

Even more important than the technology are your own computer skills. Knowing how to use a computer and its associated software or knowing how to use a smartphone is not some specialized knowledge that only a few people need. Everyone must know how to use these technology tools. In this day and age not having sufficient technological skills is akin to not knowing how to work a standard telephone, how to drive a car or how to cook your meals. Technological skills are critical to your life and work and should be gained and cultivated at every opportunity.

Learn about technology whenever and wherever you can. It doesn’t require expensive computer training classes. Want to learn about technology? Walk into any Apple store (or Microsoft store or Best Buy or Staples) and play with the devices you find there. There is no excuse for not being at least familiar with Macintosh, iPhone and iPad devices. Unless you live in a rural area (and even then, most of us visit the “big city” on occasion) you have a technology training ground at your disposal. Pick up the devices. Investigate them and what they can do. Stand at an iMac, login to your Google Drive account, edit some documents. Open programs that run on the Mac like Pages, MS Word and more. Most importantly, listen to the questions and answers around you. You can learn a lot by hearing the answers to other people’s questions.

If your technological skills are lacking, consider meeting with like-minded friends and family so you can learn together. There are usually one or two people in a group that have a bit more knowledge than the others. They can help get you started on the road to technology proficiency and then you can all learn more together. Of course, if you have the opportunity to take formal computer training – do it! This goes for nearly any training actually. If you don’t take advantage of these opportunities when they are available, you are wasting both time and money that could help to build your career. Don’t make excuses – ever — just go and learn!

Like the telephone, the railroad, the automobile, and the television before it — computer technology (in all its forms) is here to stay. You can’t ignore it. You can’t dismiss it. You can’t wish it away. Your career success depends on engaging with technology nearly every minute of every day. Unless you want to retreat to a monastery, a rural homestead or a hermitage, you will need to face technology and all that it can provide you. To declare technological ignorance — or, even worse, feel pride in your ignorance — is folly. If you do so, you are stubbornly and willingly limiting your chances of ever building the career you deserve.

Previously in the What Your Need series:


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