Tools are not your trade

We all showcase skills we have by listing the tools we’re proficient using. Usually on our CV or talking with friends and business contacts we say things like “I use X to do Y” or similar. I just realized that this is somewhat strange, for any task a tool might be more or less important. In some extreme cases the tool is the task and knowing how to use it is essential for the job. But for knowledge workers, when is Photoshop really a critical skill? Graphic design is the real skill, with the addition of experience using software designed specifically for the task. Would a switch to painter really make all that skill obsolete?

This is most striking for programmers. If you know how to code a web app using an object based language, which language tends to be irrelevant. Sure, knowing the language a company uses beforehand is an advantage. But certainly not crucial, anyone new to a workplace has to learn the specifics of that job anyway.