6 ways to get up to speed on new tech

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(MoneyWatch) One of the most common concerns hiring managers have when considering an older employee is whether or not they're familiar with newer technology, from software to social media. Even if you're in your 20s or 30s, companies may be worried about your knowledge being outdated if you've been out of the workforce because of unemployment or staying home with children.

But if you feel your tech skills are behind the curve, rest assured it should be relatively easy to catch up. "The reality is there is really nothing new in technology," said Marc Miller, author of "Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers." "Everything is repackaged and rehashed. Coming up to speed is [largely about] learning mechanics." Here's how:

Find a tech buddy. As an experienced employee, you've probably mentored younger folks. Now's the time to have them return the favor. "In order to get up to speed on technology, you should pair with millennial workers and learn from them," said Dan Schawbel, author of the upcoming book "Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success." "Millennials want older mentors to provide them with career advice, and boomers need to get up to speed on new technology, so it's a perfect marriage."

Go back to school. On- and off-line, there are a lot of inexpensive and even free tech-related courses you can take. "These classes can be taken at major universities, nearby community colleges or even through Udemy.com, which provides various classes across technology disciplines from top experts across the world," said Schawbel. He also suggests w3schools.com and khanacademy.org for free web-based tutorials.

Get social media savvy. To get comfortable with tech, you have to use it, and social media is something that's relatively easy to pick up on your own. Miller recommends Hubspot for learning to use social media as part of work-related Marketing and PR initiatives.

Buy a smartphone. If you have the technology at your fingertips, you'll be more likely to use it. "Many of the retail stores have knowledgeable staff who will walk you through how to use your new device and give you advice on key apps to purchase," said corporate branding expert Karen Kang, CEO of BrandingPays.

Read tech news. Tech blogs like Mashable, TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb and Engadget should be required reading, Schawbel said. "Those blogs provide information on the latest technologies for personal and business use, from collaboration tools to shopping gadgets."

Try to be open. If you're faced with a choice of projects, try to jump on ones that force you to learn new technology. "The old adage that you can't teach an old dog new tricks will only be true for you if you let it," Kang said.

Photo courtesy of Bill Branson

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    Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who has been published in dozens of magazines (including Glamour, Self and Redbook), websites (including AOLHealth.com, Babble.com and Details.com) and newspapers (including The New York Post and the Boston Globe). To read more of her writing, visit AmyLevinEpstein.com.

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