How to improve your technical skills

Even now, despite the rise of mainstream tech giants like Google and Facebook, there’s something about the word “technical” that makes many of us think of men with poor bodily hygiene sitting hunched over vast computer screens in their parents’ garage.

Unless you’ve done an obviously technical degree (like Computer Science or Engineering), statistically the chances of you applying to a tech company or a role with tech requirements are slim - either because you don’t think you’re technical enough or because you’re not excited about the content of the work. This is a mistake.

  1. Dedicate time to reading around
    As a student and when starting out in your career, it can be hard to find time to read anything beyond what’s required by your course. But if you want to get ahead professionally, you need to make the time for it. Stay in one night a week or maybe make it the thing you do on a Sunday morning before you go for a run. However you do it, scheduling a regular spot to start getting informed is going to make the process so much easier.
  2. Identify your favourite tech-related media outlets
    The great thing about all-things-tech is that there is simply so much great information available online for free. It’s the nature of the beast. From Wired, Business Insider, Financial Times technology section, to TechCrunch, The Verge, Engadget, there are so many easy ways to get informed. Don’t feel you have to read every last article. Surf around and see what attracts you most.
  3. Curate your own public profile
    Make sure you’ve got the obvious ones - Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram - and then actively use them to post tech-related media, whether articles, videos or blogposts. Hunt down and follow people who are writing things you can relate to about tech. Then go beyond the standard and start making yourself stand out - create a blog and write regular posts on this about all things tech (and related) that are starting to garner your interest. You’re aiming for consistency of content and style. Remember this is something you’ll want prospective employers to look at as evidence of your growing interest.
  4. Use tools to increase your own efficiency
    Start using Doodle to find dates for your sports team’s training sessions instead of mailing the whole team and coordinating responses. Stop ordering taxis over the phone and use an app instead. Do your banking using an app rather than in the branch. Try linking up your social media accounts (they each have simple descriptions on how to do this online), so you only post once - not four times. This will give you a better sense of the positive power of technology and save you time.
  5. Analyse what you consume
    We live in the age of smartphones. Start thinking about what you use on your phone / online and why. How does it help you? What improvements were added in the recent update? Why might these have been introduced? Is there anything you wish your favourite app could do but doesn’t? What do you think of the design? Is it clean and functional or playful and witty? How (well) does the design fit with the functionality? Keep a note of your musings in a table and refer back to it from time to time.