If you’re reading this on your phone, look up and look around. You’ll probably see a number of people still looking at their phone. Technology has made it so that it’s difficult to be without your phone at all. Since your phone is now an extension of your life, use it to your advantage and develop these life skills.
Outside of social media and apps, there’s a lot your phone can do for you. Get a handle on these basic technology skills for which you need to be using your phone, and start filling your resume (yes, your resume!) with the results.
1. Research, Referrals, & Reservations
Facebook makes it easy for you to ask your local friends for any recommendation from a mechanic to a restaurant, creating a map of recommended locations. But you may not wind up with many leads or much of a variety, so use a search engine to find what you’re looking for. Compare businesses by their reviews – remember to check for quantity and date of reviews (the more recent, the better) and not just how highly they’re ranked.
Whether it’s dining out, needing a rental car, or booking a hotel, making reservations is a skill with which you need to be familiar. You can make many reservations clicking through automated systems, but developing your conversational and people skills is a great opportunity. Life is full of people you’ll have to interface with, so get in some practice by making phone calls. Positions in Human Resources are filled with opportunities to conduct interviews and engage in conflict resolution, so strengthen your communication skills early.
2. Online Bill Pay, Banking, and Tech Support
Paperless billing makes online payments easier than ever, but even mailed statements frequently have the option to pay online or over the phone. Have your credit or debit card in hand, or your account and routing numbers handy if using a checking account. Your routing number is 9 digits long.
This is shorter than your phone number, so just memorize it to save time. If an auto-pay option is helpful for you, take advantage of it. Don’t forget to mark the recurring payment date on your phone’s calendar with a reminder so you can make sure the funds are available.
It seems like common sense to say, “Check your bill closely,” but sometimes statement errors occur. Clear up confusion or resolve errors by contacting customer service in either a phone call or live chat. Customer service can be an exercise in patience! Resolve ahead of time to speak courteously to the rep you have on the line.
Remember that any error on your bill isn’t their personal fault. This seems like a small thing, but developing excellent people skills can increase the longevity of your job. Employers like employees who can keep their cool and get along with others. (Customer service reps don’t have their jobs for nothing! They’re using this skill set when you call.)
Keep track of your spending and paychecks by logging in to your online banking account once every evening. Balancing a checkbook isn’t just an obsolete habit of your parent’s generation. The goal is making sure the figures always match. Compare deductions to your shopping receipts and online bill-pay amounts, and deposits to your paycheck stubs. Sometimes online banking errors occur. Checking daily can help catch them early and avoid overdraft charges, catch unusual activity and possibly detect fraud.
Outages drive everyone nuts, whether it’s your internet, power, or utilities. Reporting outages to your provider can help assist and give them information about your location. In turn, you may find out what you need to know about what’s causing the outage and how long is expected until things are running again. Keep a paper copy of must-have numbers to have on hand for your different providers, in the event you can’t look them up due to an online outage.
If it’s a minor issue, like an appliance or piece of home technology that’s gone out, contact tech support. You may be able to troubleshoot it over the phone with an expert giving real-time advice.
3. Scheduling, Renewals, and Clerical Apps
Your mother won’t always be scheduling your dental appointments for you…or any other kind of routine appointment. Start making your own appointments. Do you have a pet? Schedule their check-ups as well. Make sure you have a copy of your family’s health insurance card. If you don’t have one, contact your health insurance customer care line and ask.
Use the calendar app on your phone to log all appointments the moment you get them. The little business card with appointment reminders can get lost before you know it, and missed appointments frequently carry high no-show costs if you forget to arrive. Ask your provider if they have patient paperwork information you can fill out online in advance, to save time in the waiting room, and then use your phone to do it.
You can register to vote or make online changes to your voter registration here.
Renew insurance policies and other registrations before they lapse. Most insurance companies have apps, find yours and download it. You can retrieve your insurance policy, for car insurance for example, from the app.
There is usually a grace period of a few days between the expiration date and when it’s technically “late,” but again, use your calendar app to set a reminder so you don’t wind up with any late fees. To assist in paying your insurance on time, set up automatic payments, monthly, with the insurance company.
Excel & PowerPoint
Learning to use Excel can actually serve you as a marketable skill. Put the Excel app on your phone and use it to keep track of everything from color-coded lists to budgeting. Many employers prefer their applicants to have a working knowledge of Excel, as it is used in a wide array of careers.
Likewise, using the PowerPoint mobile app on your phone can give you the opportunity to learn skills that may come in useful throughout your college studies and future career. And it’s another office skill you can include on your job application.
Many modern jobs need both strong technological skills and people skills to thrive. Take these opportunities to develop and strengthen your communication and technology skills by using your phone in these practical ways. Using your smart phone in smart ways can put you ahead of the game. You already have your phone in your hand, put it to the best use.