upskill your IT skills
Over 50s job hunting: the right apps to improve your IT skills
You’re over 50 and job hunting. Does it make you feel as mad as me, when you hear another declaration of ‘fact’ that ‘old people’ (ie everybody over 50) don’t have any IT skills or can’t learn new ones?
Or maybe you’re one of those older people highlighted in a recent report from Ageing-Better.org.uk, with a lack of confidence in your IT skills. If you’re over 50, your interviewer is likely to be younger than you are and believe those stereotypes. Research papers confirm it as a barrier to over 50s seeking jobs.
With more interviews by video, isn’t it a good idea to hone your IT skills? Here’s a rundown of the more popular amongst 4 types of apps.
The Lowdown on Apps: the Basics
An ‘app’ is an application. That’s a computer software program (and yes, in the IT world it’s a program and not a programme even in British English), that enables you to perform some kind of task on-line. There are millions of apps, but we’re looking at the ones which demonstrate you’re up to the job.
1. File-sharing Apps for Storing and Sharing Documents in the Cloud
Documents and data no longer have to be stored on your own computer. They can be stored ‘in the cloud’. That means they are stored on servers operated by specialist service providers. You and others can access and amend your documents and data at any time via an app.
Let’s start with one of the most popular: Google Drive. You access it with your Google password from any device. You use Google docs or spreadsheets plus you can upload other types of documents too (eg PDFs). The app saves everything automatically, so you never lose your work. Click the share button to give others permission to view, comment, make suggestions or edit the document. Receive a link and you can do the same with other people’s documents. It makes team working easy.
Just sign up and the account gives you access to all of Google's services, including Drive, Google Docs, Gmail, Calendar, Photos, YouTube, Play Store, and more. Here’s a tutorial (18 minutes) on how to use Google Drive.
Alternative File-sharing Apps in the Cloud
Microsoft 365 is Microsoft’s ‘in the cloud’ solution for offices that already use Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint etc). Dropbox offers document sharing solutions as well as cloud storage. Most of these systems offer free services or free trials so hop onto one or more to gain experience.
2. Collaboration Apps: Organising Your Schedule and Your Projects
These apps help you to organise your time, but are great for co-ordinating projects and for teamwork. So this category includes to do lists plus project management tools.
Trello becomes your Organiser
Think of Trello as a digital white board where you put your post-it notes (‘cards’ in Trello speak). Your cards range from simple to do lists to full blown project management tools. The system keeps you on track to get from ‘to do’ to ‘doing’ up to the success of ‘done’.
By organising your work into projects, you can interface with others for efficient project management. The calendar feature helps you control your work flow by blocking off work time to ensure on-time delivery to colleagues or clients.
Here is a (4 minute) demonstration of how Trello works. Why not give the free version for personal use a try?
Alternative Collaboration Apps
Alternatives include Asana, Todoist.com and Basecamp. They all have free versions.
3. Communication Apps Replacing Email
Most businesses are moving away from email to more informal messaging to work collaboratively. Most offer file-sharing and scheduling and some even offer video-conferencing for small groups.
Keeping the Team Informed and in Contact with Slack
Slack is probably the most popular and secure communication app. You can create different workstreams for different teams of varying sizes, even sorting smaller units into channels, which is very effective for running projects. Just like in a real office, there’s a ‘watercooler’ channel for important things like jokes and chats!
You can search it to find something and connect Slack with many other apps including Google Drive and Zoom. You can link your work and personal calendars so that you don’t forget things. There are free versions of Slack for you to try out- here's how to get going!
Alternative Communication Apps
Google Hangouts/Google Meet and Microsoft Teams offer competitive services.
4. Videoconferencing Apps: the Meetings of the Future
The pandemic has given a big boost to replacing meetings with videoconferences. It saves travelling time and money and it isn’t going to disappear as an easy way to hold meetings quickly.
The Preferred Type of Meeting: Videoconferencing with Zoom
The pandemic has rocketed Zoom into the videoconferencing stratosphere. Everybody is using it for quick ‘face to face’ meetings, video conferences, webinars, business negotiations and remote working. You can record meetings and discussions so that absentees can catch up.
Used by schools, universities and impromptu orchestras as well as businesses and families for work and for play, Zoom is now a vital app for all.
Here is a step-by-step tutorial for this tool. The basic version is free.
Alternatives include Google Hangouts/Google Meet, Microsoft Teams and Cisco’s Webex. Don’t forget our old favourite, Skype!
More Resources to Hone Your IT Skills
Here are some more places to learn about popular apps. The more you know, the easier it is to learn more.
UK Government – Essential Digital Skills Framework
Free courses from Accenture: Digital Skills for Work and Life
Free courses from Google – Increase Your Productivity
Over 50s Job Hunters with Up to Date IT Skills Ace Their Interviews
Imagine you’ve been invited for a job interview. You’re asked about your IT Skills. Tricky one to answer?
Now imagine you’ve taken the time to update your IT skills. Maybe it was fun trying out all those different apps? However you found it, you can now impress your interviewer too.
Even if you aren’t asked about your IT skills in your interview, your efforts will have done something powerful for your chances. You can talk the talk and demonstrate your adaptability and enthusiasm for new topics. You can show you’re on top of the job, however old you are.
When you’re an over 50s job hunter, you need all the advantages you can find and a boost to your confidence can help you ace the interview.
So practise your IT Skills, take a course or even get a certificate. Learn not only to answer the hard questions about IT skills, but also about your wider abilities to adapt, learn and fit in. Build your confidence and you build your chances of a new job even when you’re over 50.
Related Topics you might like:
About the Author
Rosemary Bointon is a certified content writer. On her blog,
Longlifefunlife.com, she helps older people work out what to
do now to live longer, in better health with more fun and
adventures. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Search more advice...