For millions of Americans, there’s nothing more frightening than waking up one day and discovering you’re redundant. You’ve suddenly become replaceable, and the world has moved on without you. What are you supposed to do? In all likelihood, you’ve invested many years in a specific career path. You’ve sunk tens of thousands into degrees and certificates. Perhaps you’ve even given up more lucrative jobs to chase a passion.
Then, in one fell swoop, the rug has been pulled out from under you. It’s a scary thought. But for more and more people, it’s becoming a reality. The jobs of today are not the jobs of tomorrow. And the job skills you needed yesterday are not the job skills you need today — or tomorrow.
Let’s take a quick look at the most useless job skills employers either don’t want or expect you to already have. Your resume should reflect your ability to do No. 6.
13. Microsoft Office
At this point, Microsoft Office is so ubiquitous that it’s pretty much an expectation you’ll know the basics. At least some familiarity with Word and Excel are going to be expected by most employers. Depending on the job or industry, possibly other programs, such as PowerPoint or OneNote, will be expected, too. If you know these programs, that’s great. But leave it off your CV unless the posting specifically lists them.
12. Word processing
“Word processing” is really a term or phrase from a past generation. Essentially, it means typing. You’re able to use a keyboard and get thoughts out of your head and into a word processor, such as Word or Notepad. Again, it’s pretty much expected at this point that you know how to type. If you don’t, it should be one of the first things you work on to get up to speed.
11. Outdated programming languages
This is going to be industry and job-specific, but you’re going to want to purge any outdated programming languages you know. Obviously, this is going to apply to people who work in the tech industry or developers and designers. Most job listings will specify what languages and skills an employer is looking for. List those that you know on your CV, and avoid antiquated ones that might cause an HR manager to raise an eyebrow.
10. Data entry
You’ll probably come across a job posting that has “data entry” as a necessary skill. Like word processing, data entry is pretty much what it sounds like. You’re entering data into a computer. That means typing and probably using a 10-key. This is a bit more specialized, as you might need to know your way around a database, but if you can use a computer, it’s probably assumed you can handle data-entry tasks.
The ability to administer isn’t bad — in fact, it’s a good thing. But it’s not necessarily a skill you’ll want to, or even need to, include on your resume. An employer should be able to tell administration is in your wheelhouse by looking at your experience and background. If leadership is in your bones, your resume should speak for itself.
8. Customer service
Again, this isn’t a skill that’s bad to have or that’s even outdated. It’s just something you shouldn’t have to put on your CV. If you’ve worked in customer service positions, your resume will relay that. And if you were bad at it your resume will probably relay that, as well. But if you’re good at customer service, your past job experience will likely speak for itself.
7. Call center/phone/fax
Some of the items on our list so far have basically translated to “I can use a computer.” That’s essentially what you’re saying if you put down “phone” or “fax” — the latter of which you should probably forget all about unless an employer has made it very clear it needs someone who can use a fax machine. It’s assumed you can use a phone, make calls, and do it professionally.
6. Ability to work on a team or independently
This is a popular phrase that employers like to use. It’s also meaningless. You’re either going to work on a team or by yourself, right? If you can walk and breathe, you’re going to be able to do one of the two. Some people work better alone, while others thrive in a team atmosphere. But this isn’t necessarily something you should list as a skill. Employers want workers to be able to work in a variety of situations. Once again, your resume should reflect your ability to do so at a glance.
5. Social media
There are jobs in the social media space for which you’ll want to talk about your social media skills. But if you don’t work in a communications role of some kind, it’s best to leave social media off of your skills list. In fact, in most cases, including social media is going to be more of a liability than anything. Make sure your profiles are set to private and that you don’t have any incriminating posts out there that could cost you a job.
You can scrap “email” from your list of skills, too. Odds are you used email to get your resume to an employer in the first place. It’s clear you know how to email someone. What if you don’t? Well, that should be at the top of your to-do list. But again, employers are going to assume you know how to log in to your Gmail account and fire off a message, so don’t worry about including this on a CV.
3. Being a middleman
When was the last time you used a travel agent — if ever? Or if you’re looking at getting started with a financial adviser or investing, are you considering an actual human being or a robo-adviser? These are two examples of people being replaced with artificial intelligence or machines. Where there was once a need for a middleman, there’s now a program or service that allows you to easily find the information you need for yourself — be it about plane tickets or index funds.
Keeping a business’s records intact is important. But it’s yet another role that is becoming increasingly automated. Given the possibility of human error, more companies are looking to offload bookkeeping tasks to computers. That doesn’t mean we still don’t need bookkeepers. It’s just that you might not want to march into a job or career field that is rapidly evolving.
There’s academic research, and there’s regular run-of-the-mill online research. The latter requires the ability to type something into Google. The former requires much more. And unless you’re applying for an academic position in which you’re doing real, hardcore research, you’re better off leaving “research” or “online research” off your resume. Like many other skills on our list, this is something that’s expected of you.