He recently found what looked like his dream job. It was in the same industry (health care) and the experience requirements were a perfect fit for his background. That is, except for one thing: a mandory requirement was expert-level experience with the Microsoft Office suite of applications. He’s been in same job for the past nine years and his organization uses Apple products, not Microsoft. His last office experience with Microsoft applications was back in 2004, with Office 2003 and Windows XP. Oops. He couldn’t even apply for what was otherwise his dream job.
I’m certainly no huge fan of Microsoft and I’ve had a sort of love-hate relationship with their products over the years, ever since one of the companies I used to work for ditched WordPerfect for Word (I loved WordPerfect!). But the reality is that, like it or not, Microsoft productivity applications still rule the workplace in the majority of businesses and there are few jobs that don’t require at least a working knowledge of the basic Office applications.
This means that, depending on the job you are seeking, you need to have a basic working knowledge of the most popular Microsoft applications. And for certain positions an intermediate or even advanced knowledge may be expected.
For example, anyone looking to apply for financial-related positions will almost certainly need an advanced knowledge of Excel and possibly Access. For Project Manager, Business Analyst or actually most professional positions, at least an intermediate level of knowledge of Visio and Project is required.
Make sure you research what’s required for positions and companies to which you’ll be applying and if you lack knowledge or the proper level of knowledge for any of these products, you’ll need to take some training classes. Microsoft’s web site actually has basic online training classes for most of these applications. While they will get you to a very basic level knowledge , you’ll need to supplement them with other training to advance much beyond that.
There are many online training websites you can subscribe to (just do a search for “Microsoft Training), or you can attend instructor-led classroom training at many locations (again, do a search for “Microsoft Classroom Training”). Expect to pay from about $125 to $160 per day of classroom training. Make sure the training company is a Microsoft Certified training partner.
Here’s a list of what I, as a hiring manager, consider to be the most important Microsoft applications to know, in order of importance.
These are the basic applications that almost everyone is expected to know, regardless of the position.
Should Have to be Most Competitive
These applications are great to know for any position and may be mandatory for certain positions.
Icing on the Cake
These applications are not mandatory for most positions but will certainly put you head and shoulders above other applicants if you know them.
* Lync (Microsoft’s integrated communications platform)