The Microsoft Office skills you absolutely need to get a job right now

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Companies often expect you to have Microsoft Office skills as a minimum requirement for any role where you’ll be working on a computer. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, since Microsoft Office has been the default work productivity software for decades.

Many of these skills are also transferable to other software, such as Google Workspace, so becoming proficient in MS Office is definitely worth your time. Run through this list and see what you can add to make your resume more appealing.

The top Microsoft Word skills to have

Don’t underestimate the importance of knowing how to use Microsoft Word — after all, you’re likely using it to create your resume (along with reports, memos, proposals, and more).

  • Formatting: You should know how to format documents so information is clear and readable. For example, create an interactive table of contents, insert repeating headers and footers, properly indent bulleted or numbered lists, and align images and charts.
  • Track Changes: As asynchronous collaboration becomes the norm, you should take advantage of Track Changes to stay on top of your team’s comments and any content or formatting changes, especially if your role involves editing others’ work.
  • Templates and Quick Parts: Your company may have custom Word templates for specific documents, or you may want to create templates for reuse. Creating templates with Quick Parts and Content Controls can be a massive time-saver.

The top Excel skills to have

Potential employers often list Excel skills as a bonus, so you may get extra consideration if you can navigate spreadsheets like a pro.

  • Formulas and functions: Excel spreadsheets allow you to sort and analyze information more quickly. Get instant calculations with formulas, use lookup functions to search and retrieve data, and reference external sheets to save time and minimize discrepancies.
  • Pivot Tables: Pivot tables are extremely powerful for distilling and dissecting large amounts of data, but they’re also known to be tricky to maneuver. A firm grasp of pivot tables will help you stand out in the eyes of potential employers.

The top PowerPoint skills you need to know

A sleek, attractive PowerPoint presentation can wow your audience or even close a deal. Master the art of PowerPoint, and you can convey your message with impact every time.

  • Slide design: Make use of transitions and effects (like shadows and overlays) to create professional-looking presentations without going over the top. You should also know how to use custom templates, or create branded templates with a specific color scheme and typeface for use at work.
  • Inserting dynamic elements: Want to jump smoothly from a PowerPoint slideshow to a video, or pull a chart from an Excel report? Add these dynamic elements to a presentation to highlight your proficiency with PowerPoint.
  • Saving and exporting: PowerPoint presentations are powerful — so powerful that you may not want anyone to mess them up. Microsoft lets you save your presentation as a non-editable PDF, so you can share them with external parties. (This can be done with Microsoft Word too.)

The necessary skills for Microsoft Outlook

As communication moves online in the age of remote work, you’ll have to contend with more emails, calls, and meetings than ever. Many companies use Outlook for work email, so knowing how it works will help you to keep things organized.

  • Email: Basic proficiency in Outlook means you should be able to sort emails using filters and folders, find colleagues using the address book, and set automatic replies when you’re out of the office.
  • Calendar Management: Even if your role doesn’t involve handling others’ schedules, your calendar can help you organize everything from a division meeting to a birthday celebration for your boss.

Skills for other Microsoft Office programs

  • Database management on Access: If you’re gunning for an IT or data analysis position, you should be familiar with creating queries, managing relationships, and pulling reports using Access.
  • File/folder organization on OneDrive: Companies using the Microsoft 365 software suite may also be using OneDrive for file sharing. Learn how OneDrive works so you can be more productive.
  • Mail Merge on Word/Outlook/Excel: Mail Merge makes it easy to create personalized documents or bulk send emails – if you can smoothly juggle your Microsoft Word, Outlook, and Excel skills.

Remember, competency in Microsoft Office (or any other software) is just one of many factors that a hiring manager considers. Make sure to understand what skills are required for a role, highlight your achievements in your resume, and showcase your enthusiasm for the job.