Don’t Forget to Practice: Keep an eye on refreshing basic skills

by Yandee Vazquez, Head Editor, INALJ Texas

Don’t Forget to Practice: Keep an eye on refreshing basic skills

yandeevYou’re looking at a job post and notice that among the preferred qualifications it includes that basic list of programs you’ve seen everywhere: Excel, Word, Powerpoint. The big three of Microsoft Office.

Of course you know how these work, you’ve been writing papers, making spreadsheets, and presenting on them for years now! But when was the last time you sat and explored these programs?

When was the last time you challenged yourself to learn something new about their functionality?

We often spend so much time working within the confines of certain tasks, especially in Microsoft Word, that we forget the just how far we can take their tricks and features. If we take into account the new versions that spring up every few years (or even more regularly than that!), there’s a lot to miss! This can also be a problem if you prefer using other software such as OpenOffice, LibreOffice, or Google Docs. Microsoft skills can get quite rusty if you haven’t used them in some time, and there is no guarantee you will be able to use the programs you’re used to in your work environment.

I highly recommend you take the time to go review and go over those often-used programs and figure out how to do something new. If you don’t have them on your personal computer, libraries often have at least some version on their computers. Even if you can’t experiment with a newer version, reading up on changes can provide you with some ideas of what to expect.

It can be even more helpful if you have some idea of what exactly you’ll be working with. If your employer does use something like Google Docs, refresh those skills. Remember that this doesn’t only apply to Microsoft Office, but to any other little things that might be in disuse. Internet Explorer, for example? This is one that I neglected for quite a while and did cause some problems, as I hadn’t used IE in many many years. I picked it up again quickly enough, but having to refresh my skills in the middle of an interview didn’t help my cause.

You may not have to prove the accuracy of your tech skills during the interview, but a good refresher over available formats, changes from version to version, and new features can be impressive on your first days in a job. And if they do sit you in front of a computer during the interview, well then you’re ready to roll.

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list (formerly I Need a Library Job) and former CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of, a crowdfunding platform focused on African patrimony, heritage and cultural projects. INALJ was founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard. Its social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ. INALJ has had over 21 Million page hits and helped many, many thousands of librarians find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in one month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this with many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro and many other publications in the past decade. She presents whenever she can, including serving on three panels at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Las Vegas; as breakout presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa; as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting; at the National Press Club in Washington DC; McGill University in Montreal, Canada; the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has been living and working in Budapest, Hungary and Western New York State. She spent years running her husband’s moving labor website, fixed and sold old houses and assisted her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food. She is preparing to re-enter the workforce and is job hunting. Her husband is now the co-editor of INALJ, a true support!  She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay.