As a teenager, I was told that basic use of standard office equipment was a requirement for entering the workforce. My mom taught me life skills such as replacing light switches, and she also taught me how to use a photocopier, fax, and filing system.
Today, most of those skills are obsolete. I’m surprised how many people overlook the basic skills we need today. If you’re starting out as a freelancer (or even if you’re looking for an in-house job), below are some of the things you are expected to know (and use with fluidity and efficiency) before you start.
Essential background skills for a copyeditor
Besides elements of style, and the proofreader’s marks, an editor needs to know how to
- download and install software, and keep it up to date
- reply to email — Including reply to all, reply to one just one recipient, reply to a listserv (or any group email service). Check emailcharter.org for easy tips.
- attach a file to an email — And write subject lines more meaningful than “hello.” Especially if the receiver may not recognize your name.
- upload and download to an FTP site
- track changes and add comments in Word — the automated features, not your own colour-code
- mark up a PDF clearly, using the clients preferred method — and maybe more
- participate in conference calls — join, host, and mute yourself when you’re not talking
- manage electronic files — create folders, move and copy files, rename files
- search online — There are few times when you shouldn’t at least try to find the answer for yourself (and identify reputable sources!). KWIM?
- invoice — Getting clients is one thing, but you don’t get paid unless you send an invoice.
use a telephone — A remarkable technology that connects you instantly and in real time to the person you need to query.
I might also add “use social media” to that list. More and more jobs require some kind of online interaction.
That covers today. What will be the essential skills of the future?