The baseline for getting employed in the modern economy is demonstrating a good knowledge of every finance pro’s favorite tool.
Even if it’s been a while since you last looked for a job, you probably remember what the basic elements of a ‘help wanted’ post for a knowledge worker looks like. There’s the main overview, key responsibilities, and the qualifications — which almost always include a good working knowledge of Excel.
This conventional wisdom is actually backed up by real, recent data. An online publication called HRDive highlighted the results of a study of more than 200 job ads which have been published to the employment site Indeed.com. The research looked at that software skills were most commonly cited by those seeking various kinds of new recruits. Excel spreadsheets took the No. 1 spot, at 13.57% of all job postings.
“The skills needed to compete as a job seeker are not all that shocking since the business world has become increasingly dependent on database and information management,” the HR Drive article noted. The company that conducted the researched, Novel Aspect, went even further: “Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint rank the highest for desirable software skills since spreadsheets, email, and presentations drive just about all business environments. Companies mention the three products collectively in 35.4 percent of job listings.”
It’s important to note here that this wasn’t a study of jobs in finance, let alone for potential CFO hires. It was deliberately broad-based, looking at job postings overall. That’s important because it demonstrates that Excel works so well for so many organizations that it has become a baseline expectation for being a part of the workforce.
That’s not to say Excel expertise is a low-level skill. In fact, companies want new hires to have it in part of because of the accessibility and creativity it offers. Take the man who was profiled in The Evening Standard newspaper, who took an unusual approach to investigating why he wasn’t more successful on the dating app Tinder:
“I’m one those strange people who love Excel spreadsheets. So if I couldn’t get into the heads of the women I’d been out with, at least I could keep track of why I decided not to pursue a second, third or fourth date. If I just punched in enough data, perhaps some trends would reveal themselves.”
You can debate whether using Excel for managing Tinder is strange, but there’s nothing inherently strange about loving spreadsheets. It almost always does the job — which is why proving you can make the most of it may get you your next.
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