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Business Keyboarding Skills

Keyboarding is one of the most valuable skills a prospective job-seeker can learn. It is not enough to simply know how to type; proper keyboarding technique and efficiency in typing are essential in today’s business world. If you did not learn proper typing technique during your education, don’t worry: There are plenty of resources available online to help learners of all ages improve their typing speed and skills.

The vast majority of jobs on the market today will require the use of a computer in some form. Any administrative office job or customer service position requires strong typing skills, as do careers like library science, education, information technology, and jobs in the medical profession. In fact, many employers require prospective employees to be able to type at a specified number of words per minute (WPM). Most of the time, the only way to achieve the required WPM is through a practice known as touch-typing.

With touch-typing, the typist does not need to look down at the keyboard to find the correct letter; instead, they rely on muscle memory to remember the locations of the keys. In most people, their fingers work much faster than their eyes and brain when it comes to typing. Therefore, it is much more efficient to learn to touch-type, without having to stop and look down, than it is to use the “hunt-and-peck” method. Hunt-and-peck typists look down at the keyboard and use one or two fingers to tap the keys one by one. Most untrained individuals use the hunt-and-peck method, and some people can even become reasonably proficient at this style. However, studies have demonstrated that touch-typing produces much quicker speeds and more efficient output. In addition, hunt-and-peck typing can give employers the impression that an employee is inexperienced with computers. Smooth, effortless touch-typing will make a strong impression in any business.

Most employers will expect their employees to have the ability to touch-type and already be familiar with the standard QWERTY keyboard (named for the first six letters on the top row). The QWERTY keyboard has been in use since the days of typewriters and was designed to avoid jamming of the typewriter’s mechanical parts. Because QWERTY has been the standard for decades, most modern computers still use it today. However, alternate keyboard layouts, such the Colemak and Dvorak keyboards, have been developed to favor certain computational tasks. Other keyboard designs, such as the Kinesis layout, favor ergonomics. Proper ergonomics and posture are a good starting point for any student of keyboarding. Without aligning the body and hands in the correct positions, long-term typists can suffer health problems, including back pain, neck strain, or carpal tunnel syndrome.

A beginner typist should start by focusing on the home row keys, which form the middle row of letters on the keyboard. Once the home row keys have been mastered, a keyboarding student should move on to mastering the top and bottom rows of letters, first with one hand and then alternating with both hands. An intermediate typist can move on to learning proper technique for the number row, punctuation, and special symbols. At the intermediate level, a typist should be able to practice with phrases and sentences, rather than single words, and should begin learning to efficiently copy from written text. Advanced typists will benefit from practicing with long sentences and paragraphs and should be focused on improving their WPM without sacrificing accuracy. An advanced student can also branch out into mastering 10-key typing, using the number pad at the side of the keyboard; some typists may also be interesting in learning different keyboard layouts and typing techniques related to programming, which is best accomplished at an advanced level. At this stage, it is also helpful to learn common keyboard shortcuts so you can efficiently perform different functions while typing instead of stopping to click these options. A few seconds may not seem like much, but these time-saving techniques add up over the course of the work day.

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