Whether you’re beginning a new career or returning to the work force, chances are you will need some basic office skills to get your foot in at an entry level job . But how do you learn these skills without the experience? Luckily many office skills can be learned through free online lessons and office tutorials that are widely available. Some office skills, such has how to use a fax, copier, or multi-line phone, can be trickier to pick up but with some creativity and research you can familiarize yourself with these basic entry level requirements.
You might not need to know how to type 60 wpm, but in many jobs a basic 40 wpm or a minimum of 25 wpm will be required. Ten-key, or data entry, is valuable to learn as well. Many websites offer free online typing lessons, but don’t waste time on those that only provide a sample or trial use. Two of the best sites for typing and increasing you speed are Powertyping and Learn2Type. You can also download freeware typing software from a site like Download.com that is great for training. You might see an option to learn the DVORAK style of typing, which refers to the order of keys on the first row of letters. While this is a very fast and intuitive style, if you learn it you will always contend with keyboards set up in QWERTY form.
To learn entry level computer skills you’ll need to start using Microsoft Office and develop basic proficiency. Even if you have no idea how to begin, create, or save a document in Office, you can pick up the basics easily. Again, don’t waste time on trial or sample lesson offers, especially if they have the words “Video” and “(word for someone who teaches college)” in their title. The information they provide can be found for free on reputable sites and without giving out your credit card number. GCF Global Learning has an incredible number of tutorials on Office and related software and an active community, as well as free online classes. They even have a version of Spanish computer training classes and tutorials in Spanish. Here you can learn the core trinity of Office – Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint – as well as many other basics. Once you’re proficient in those three programs you’ll be a valuable employee. Entry level jobs usually require being familiar with Outlook, Microsoft’s email manager, and how to find information online as well.
There are hundreds of free Microsoft office tutorials online if the GCFL website doesn’t answer your questions. Often searching for “How to ____ ” and the name of the program you’re using will yield good information. YouTube is a good source for video software tutorials, but your first stop should be Associated Content’s excellent Microsoft related video tutorials . Many temp agencies, such as Today’s, now provide online training when you sign up through their office as well. An added benefit to temp agencies is you get an office skills assessment when you sign up and get a good idea of where to improve.
While you’re brushing up on these basic office skills take take the time to brush up on your business math, office etiquette, grammar and spelling. Things like how to use an adding machine or how to write a good email are often looked over in colleges, but they can make a big difference in making your first job a success. Most importantly, a quick refresher on how to study and take notes will help you retain your new knowledge.
You might have to get creative to brush up on some parts of a typical office job. Office managers often have horror stories of highly educated new graduates who can’t work basic office equipment, which is difficult to learn online. One such piece of office equipment you’ll need to know is the copier. No, it isn’t as easy as it sounds to consistently use one correctly, and your GPA won’t matter when you’re holding up the line looking for the right button.
Stop in at a Kinko’s or another print shop with DIY copiers to get experience in using a professional photocopier. Grocery stores and libraries often have a machine but it’s usually an older and basic model. At a copier shop the staff is available to help you get started and answer your questions. Don’t feel self conscious asking for help – that’s what they’re there for! It’s far better to spend $10 on photocopies than to be confounded your first day on the job. This a great time time to make copies of your resume as well. Take a look at the different models and note the similarities while you’re there, too. Most machines have a top feeder as well as a glass for placing your original. For enlarging or other special tasks you’ll want to use the glass top of the printer, otherwise the top feeder is the quickest way to be done. Pay attention to other customers and you’ll probably learn something new as well. Learn how to unjam stuck paper and you’re sure to be popular!
Developing entry level skills to get that entry level first job seems like a huge catch 22. However, with a little research and persistence you can set yourself apart from everyone else. All the free office training and free online classes you need are out there. So make it a habit to learn something new every day and your entry level skills will advance to “expert” in no time at all.