Why simply putting Microsoft Excel on your CV won’t help you in a job search

The purpose of your CV is to instantaneously establish you as a serious candidate for a particular position. Here’s why simply putting “Microsoft Office” on your CV doesn’t accomplish this and how you can better convey your software skills.

Listing overly generic skills means no special skills

There are potentially hundreds of applicants for any given job, and all of them have used spreadsheets and word processors before. Since so many businesses use Word, Excel, and Outlook on an everyday basis, employers who list Microsoft Office as a requirement already assume that applicants have at least basic knowledge of these applications and are looking for someone who knows how to do more than type or put numbers in cells.

Most people (think they) know Microsoft Office

While basic knowledge of a few applications in Microsoft Office Suite are nearly universal, a typical user is not aware of a huge number of functions within each program. Knowing how to type doesn’t mean you know how to use Microsoft applications to manipulate templates, parse data, or set up complex calculations.

Microsoft Office isn’t industry-specific

Microsoft Office is not specific to any particular job or field. People use these highly versatile applications in every industry, and many of their features are very specialized. A CV that states that you know Microsoft Office doesn’t tell the employer whether you know how to use the features relevant to the job at hand or how you are uniquely qualified for the position.

Just ask The Excel Experts

Don’t take our word for it. Excel consultants at UK company The Excel Experts agree, they provide Microsoft Excel and office training and can recall numerous times when someone has just stated ‘Microsoft Office’ on their CV. They know employers are looking for specifics such as cell formatting, data mapping and automation. See their latest advice on How to list Excel and Microsoft Office skills on your CV which will provide valuable tips to the cunning jobseeker.

Showcase your Microsoft Office skills

It is useful to include your software competencies in your CV, especially if they are desired qualifications for the job you are applying for, but there are better ways to incorporate these important qualifications than simply claiming to be proficient at Microsoft Office applications.

Be specific and relevant. List specific functions that you know how to use, particularly the ones that are applicable to the job at hand. Pay attention to the wording in the job post and include keywords as you describe your Microsoft Office skills.

Show results. Instead of listing programs you are familiar with, demonstrate what you can and have accomplished using them. Describe past projects and solutions that are related to the job you want. Going beyond a simple list of Microsoft applications will help you show employers that you are the right person for the job.