13 Most Useless Job Skills Employers Don’t Want Anymore

Tom from "Office Space" comes to terms with the fact that his job skills, and job, are redundant

Tom from Office Space comes to terms with the fact that his job skills, and job, are redundant. | 20th Century Fox

For millions of Americans, there’s nothing more frightening than waking up one day and discovering you’re redundant. You’ve suddenly become replaceable, and the world has moved on without you. What are you supposed to do? In all likelihood, you’ve invested many years in a specific career path. You’ve sunk tens of thousands into degrees and certificates. Perhaps you’ve even given up more lucrative jobs to chase a passion.

Then, in one fell swoop, the rug has been pulled out from under you. It’s a scary thought. But for more and more people, it’s becoming a reality. The jobs of today are not the jobs of tomorrow. And the job skills you needed yesterday are not the job skills you need today — or tomorrow.

Jobs and skills

Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to tell which way the economic winds will shift. We have an idea, though. Truck drivers are probably going to be out of work in the near future, for example. And most factory work is being automated. This means a lot of people need to take stock of their experience, skills, and abilities to keep pace.

The first step is to take a look at your resume and purge all of the unnecessary or redundant information. That starts with job skills that no longer apply. If you want the jobs of today or tomorrow, you need to frame yourself as an employee who’s ready for those jobs. There are many ways in which you’ll want to take special care in preparing your resume, but a good place to start is by focusing on the key skills that will get you the job.

Regarding the following skills, unless an employer is specifically looking for them, it’s probably best to leave them off of your CV. Here are 13 job skills employers aren’t looking for anymore.

1. Microsoft Office

Microsoft Excel on a tablet

Microsoft Office isn’t a skill. It’s an expectation. | Microsoft.com

At this point, Microsoft Office is so ubiquitous that it’s pretty much an expectation you’ll know the basics. At least some familiarity with Word and Excel are going to be expected by most employers. Depending on the job or industry, possibly other programs, such as PowerPoint or OneNote, will be expected, too. If you know these programs, that’s great. But leave it off your CV unless the posting specifically lists them.

2. Word processing

man typing on laptop

Being able to type isn’t something to brag about. | iStock.com

“Word processing” is really a term or phrase from a past generation. Essentially, it means typing. You’re able to use a keyboard and get thoughts out of your head and into a word processor, such as Word or Notepad. Again, it’s pretty much expected at this point that you know how to type. If you don’t, it should be one of the first things you work on to get up to speed.

3. Outdated programming languages

A man programming

Purge outdated programming language. | iStock.com

This is going to be industry and job-specific, but you’re going to want to purge any outdated programming languages you know. Obviously, this is going to apply to people who work in the tech industry or developers and designers. Most job listings will specify what languages and skills an employer is looking for. List those that you know on your CV, and avoid antiquated ones that might cause an HR manager to raise an eyebrow.

4. Data entry

A man pecking away at a keyboard

A person pecks away at a keyboard. | iStock.com/Pinkypills

You’ll probably come across a job posting that has “data entry” as a necessary skill. Like word processing, data entry is pretty much what it sounds like. You’re entering data into a computer. That means typing and probably using a 10-key. This is a bit more specialized, as you might need to know your way around a database, but if you can use a computer, it’s probably assumed you can handle data-entry tasks.

5. Administration

A man on the phone

An administrator talks on the phone. | Douglas Miller/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The ability to administer isn’t bad — in fact, it’s a good thing. But it’s not necessarily a skill you’ll want to, or even need to, include on your resume. An employer should be able to tell administration is in your wheelhouse by looking at your experience and background. If leadership is in your bones, your resume should speak for itself.

6. Customer service

A customer service associate helping a patron

A customer-service associate helps a patron. | iStock.com

Again, this isn’t a skill that’s bad to have or that’s even outdated. It’s just something you shouldn’t have to put on your CV. If you’ve worked in customer service positions, your resume will relay that. And if you were bad at it your resume will probably relay that, as well. But if you’re good at customer service, your past job experience will likely speak for itself.

7. Call center/phone/fax

A woman looks confused at her phone

This woman’s list of job skills evidently doesn’t include “phone.” | iStock.com/nandyphotos

Some of the items on our list so far have basically translated to “I can use a computer.” That’s essentially what you’re saying if you put down “phone” or “fax” — the latter of which you should probably forget all about unless an employer has made it very clear it needs someone who can use a fax machine. It’s assumed you can use a phone, make calls, and do it professionally.

8. Ability to work on a team or independently

A team of employees in an office

Employees work together. | iStock.com/Rawpixel

This is a popular phrase that employers like to use. It’s also meaningless. You’re either going to work on a team or by yourself, right? If you can walk and breathe, you’re going to be able to do one of the two. Some people work better alone, while others thrive in a team atmosphere. But this isn’t necessarily something you should list as a skill. Employers want workers to be able to work in a variety of situations. Once again, your resume should reflect your ability to do so at a glance.

9. Social media

Apple iPhone 6 screen with social media applications

Listing social media can turn into a liability. | iStock.com/HStocks

There are jobs in the social media space for which you’ll want to talk about your social media skills. But if you don’t work in a communications role of some kind, it’s best to leave social media off of your skills list. In fact, in most cases, including social media is going to be more of a liability than anything. Make sure your profiles are set to private and that you don’t have any incriminating posts out there that could cost you a job.

10. Email

An email inbox

You’ll need to know how to navigate email for most jobs. | iStock.com

You can scrap “email” from your list of skills, too. Odds are you used email to get your resume to an employer in the first place. It’s clear you know how to email someone. What if you don’t? Well, that should be at the top of your to-do list. But again, employers are going to assume you know how to log in to your Gmail account and fire off a message, so don’t worry about including this on a CV.

11. Being a middleman

A travel agent works with a client

A travel agent works with a client. | iStock.com/dima_sidelnikov

When was the last time you used a travel agent — if ever? Or if you’re looking at getting started with a financial adviser or investing, are you considering an actual human being or a robo-adviser? These are two examples of people being replaced with artificial intelligence or machines. Where there was once a need for a middleman, there’s now a program or service that allows you to easily find the information you need for yourself — be it about plane tickets or index funds.

12. Bookkeeping

A bookkeeper sorting through files

A bookkeeper sorts through files. | iStock.com/Pixfly

Keeping a business’s records intact is important. But it’s yet another role that is becoming increasingly automated. Given the high possibility for human error, more companies are looking to offload bookkeeping tasks to computers. That doesn’t mean we still don’t need bookkeepers. It’s just that you might not want to march into a job or career field that is rapidly evolving.

13. Research

Google website on smartphone screen

Anyone can type something into Google. | iStock.com/dolphfyn

There’s academic research, and there’s regular run-of-the-mill online research. The latter requires the ability to type something into Google. The former requires much more. And unless you’re applying for an academic position in which you’re doing real, hardcore research, you’re better off leaving “research” or “online research” off your resume. Like many other skills on our list, this is something that’s expected of you.

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