What Is Digital Literacy? (Plus Why It's Important)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 16 October 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Being digitally literate is essential as many employers expect that you possess certain IT skills to perform your duties effectively. The level of expectations may differ based on your industry and position. Learning about digital literacy skills can help you cultivate them and use them at work. In this article, we define digital literacy, explain why it's important, share some important skills to develop and provide tips to demonstrate your skills during your job application.

Related: What Are Digital Skills? (Plus Importance and Steps)

What is digital literacy?

Digital literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies confidently, creatively and critically to find, evaluate, create and communicate information. It requires both cognitive and technical skills and necessitates the capacity to learn and work in a digital society. It includes having the following abilities:

  • curate data and media sources

  • communicate and participate in online environments

  • manage your online identity, personal security and privacy

  • create online content

  • stay up to date with existing technologies

The level of literacy in this area required depends on your situation. For example, as a university student, the expectations are different from that of programmers who require a much higher level of information communication technology fluency. The type of skills required also vary based on the context and position. For example, it's necessary for a digital marketer to be familiar with using and creating content on social media platforms whereas a human resource manager may require knowledge of applicant tracking software.

Related: What Is a Digital Workplace? (Definition and Components)

Importance of digital literacy

In an increasingly digital world, a large majority of careers require knowledge of digital communication and the ability to interact with coworkers, superiors and clients in digital environments. When researching and collating information at work, employers expect individuals to be able to evaluate sources. It's important to know how to find information and assess its credibility so that the team receives reliable and accurate information. Being digitally literate can increase your employability and help you gain an advantage over other candidates.

Related: Top 15 Digital Transformation Strategies for Businesses

6 key digital literacy skills

Here are six important skills to improve your employability:

1. Independent research

There's a wealth of information on the internet, but this can make it difficult to find what you're looking for. It can also be challenging to distinguish real information from misinformation, opinions and bias. It's essential to know how to search for information accurately and evaluate the credibility of the information you found. As the first step of conducting research, brainstorm and create a list of important search items, using mostly nouns instead of verbs. Try different combinations of keywords and keep track of the sources you review.

Use both search engines and databases and employ special search functions to be more effective. For example, you can use quotation marks around the keywords to get results for the terms in the same order. It's also a good idea to get information from primary sources, such as newspapers and government websites as they're more reliable than second-hand information. It's also important to check the website address to see if it's odd or has minor spelling differences from official sites. Check the facts and try to find the same information from other sources.

Related: What IT Certifications Should I Get?

2. Familiarity with terms and platforms

Employers often require their staff members to be familiar with various terms, such as SEO, LAN or ATS. They expect employees to understand these terms when they mention them in team meetings or give them instructions on tasks.

It's also important to have experience with basic office software such as those involving spreadsheets, word documents, presentations and file sharing. Many roles require individuals to create online presentations, organise data on spreadsheets, type reports and share documents with their team members.

3. Collaboration

Professionals often work in a team that uses a variety of technologies. Many employers depend on digital tools and software to facilitate collaboration, such as file sharing platforms, instant messaging software and project management tools. Knowing how to navigate the various tools and use them effectively to work with your team members is important to your individual and team performance.

For example, your team may be working on a report together on a file-sharing platform, which enables you to create and edit content at the same time from your individual devices. At the same time, you may have a video conference call to discuss the content. This situation requires a strong knowledge of the different digital tools to collaborate effectively with the rest of the team members.

Related: 20 Ways to Collaborate with Your Team in the Workplace

4. Learning new technology

As technology is quickly evolving, it's essential to adapt quickly to new technology. This could be a new accounting or human resource management software that's implemented at your workplace. Employers expect their staff to be open to using new digital tools and master them in a short period. This helps the staff remain agile and updated with the latest trends in the industry.

Related: What Is Digital Transformation? (Definition and Types)

5. Online safety and security

You may handle confidential information at your workplace, such as personal information of customers or details of the company's operations, client relationships, earnings projections and strategies. It's important to know how to safeguard this information so that it doesn't get leaked to competitors or the public. This may entail ensuring that company devices are free of viruses and creating and using strong passwords to access confidential information.

6. Technological guidance

Employers may expect staff to assist new recruits in familiarising themselves with the different software that the company employs. It may be to show new employees how to share files on instant messaging platforms or how to input data in data analysis software. Being able to impart technical knowledge is a key skill and this may provide opportunities for you to hold training sessions for staff members.

Related: How to Learn Coding Online: Benefits, Tips and Guidelines

Tips to showcase your digital literacy skills

You can highlight your digital literacy skills during your job application to be successful in securing your desired position. Here are the tips you can follow:

Format your resume properly

Pay attention to the details of your resume and ensure that it's free from any formatting errors such as inconsistent fonts, irregular date formats and spacing and orphaned lines. Create a resume that has a sleek, professional appearance to showcase your proficiency with word processing software and design skills. This can create a positive impression on the hiring manager and convince them that you're able to prepare visually appealing and professional presentations and reports.

Create a personal website

Create a personal website or a digital portfolio to showcase your work, especially if you're in the creative industry. You can provide a link to your website on your resume next to your mobile number and email address. This can show that you have the necessary expertise in your area of speciality and the IT skills to create an online presence. The hiring manager may also get a better understanding of your personality and working style through the design, layout and content of your website.

Related: Top 20 Tools for a Visual Resume (And How to Create Yours)

Describe advanced skills

Share your knowledge of advanced IT functions on your resume, in your cover letter and during an interview. For example, you can include the programming languages you're proficient in or the design software that you have experience using. Where possible, describe your experiences of using specific software or digital tools as this shows your familiarity with them.

Mention proficiency in relevant tools

Study the job description and note the software or tools mentioned by the employer. Then, highlight your knowledge and experience in using them during your job application. For example, if you're applying for a payroll-related position and the job description lists knowledge of accounting software as a requirement, make sure you mention specific tools or applications you're familiar with.

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