What does it mean to be proficient in Microsoft Office?

techbballtechbball Member Posts: 5 ■□□□□□□□□□
What does it mean to be proficient in Microsoft Office? I've seen job postings that say they want some proficient in Office, mostly administrative jobs, but I think some help desk jobs also want this.

Also, any suggestions on how I can learn to be proficient in Office? I've mainly used Word and Powerpoint for school related work and I know a little bit about Excel and a little less about Outlook, though I have set up an email with it before.


  • soccarplayer29soccarplayer29 CISSP, CISA, PMP Member Posts: 230 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I feel like the "Proficient in Office" requirement is kinda lazy and just a throw in on must job descriptions.

    If you look at the actual duties in the job description it probably also includes requirements for being able to analyze data using excel, schedule meeting (using outlook), writing reports (word), etc. The microsoft office proficiency requirement is secondary really...because if the candidate can fulfill the other requirements/duties then they will already demonstrate proficiency since the other requirements will have office tasks included.

    I work in the IT industry, and for fresh new hires (college, 2nd careers, etc.) I expect the individual to be able to communicate effectively using Microsoft office suite. In general college hires already have this down since they have been using it throughout their coursework. Bluntly: if you can't use office (i know there are good alternatives) then I'm seriously concerned about considering you for an IT position.

    If I were to list office proficiency as a requirement I'd expect you to be able to use outlook to send emails, book meetings/rooms, do basic excel (not necessarily vlookups/pivots/charts/etc), basic powerpoint, etc.

    If you're interested in learning those basic skills I assume there are thousands of youtube videos (of various quality) along with technet trainings. I'd also consider udemy.com for some sales they have...the content will likely be similar to what you can find for free--but it's all packaged together and will likely save some time and be more comprehensive.
    Certs: CISSP, CISA, PMP
  • Mike-MikeMike-Mike Member Posts: 1,860
    i always assume those postings just mean a basic understanding, much like soccarplayer29 says. However I will tell you that Office skills will really come in handy the higher you get. I wish I would have focused more on Excel when I was younger
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  • cyberguyprcyberguypr Senior Member Mod Posts: 6,927 Mod
    Early in my career I remember this topic coming up occasionally. As a desktop support tech people had the impression I knew everything about pivot tables, mail merges, Outlook forms, etc. To me that is the responsibility of an administrative assistant or someone who heavily uses advanced Office features on a daily basis.

    You can check out these checklists to get an idea of what basic, intermediate, and advanced usually entails for each app in the Office suite. As soccarplayer29 mentioned, YouTube videos are my go-to when I can't figure out something Office related. Maybe take a peek at the checklists and see what you can and can't do and go form there.
  • PJ_SneakersPJ_Sneakers CompTIA, EC-Council, ISACA, Microsoft USAMember Posts: 884 ■■■■■■□□□□
    Once you work with people who are NOT proficient in Office, you'll get it.

    I'm tired of my "peers" jacking up my templates because they have no idea how to center text with anything other than the spacebar. Oh, and tables? WTF is that sorcery!?

    I must be a wizard.
  • jcundiffjcundiff Member Posts: 486 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I think a lot of these requirements are hold overs from the timeframe when Microsoft actually offered a certification for the office suite.. MOS

    EDIT: they actually still offer the mos cert

    "Hard Work Beats Talent When Talent Doesn't Work Hard" - Tim Notke
  • si20si20 Member Posts: 543 ■■■■■□□□□□
    I remember studying for the MOS Excel exam... I failed by 1 point. I've not lived it down since, although I only spent 2 days studying for it. It wasn't even that it was a hard exam, I just thought "heck, i've been using pivot tables and functions for a while, I should breeze it". But no. If you wanted to ace the exam, you'd have to put in a good week's worth of study and understand exactly how to do things. I remember my school teacher was a wizard with excel - he used to have a 500 page book on how to do some incredibly complex formulas.

    I think, in short, it depends on the job. Mastering excel could take years - but then, would a job require you to master excel? The most i've ever needed was pivot tables and some basic formulas; that is still more than your "average" user could do.
  • Mike-MikeMike-Mike Member Posts: 1,860
    Looks like the Excel exam is only $96, pretty sure I'm going to try to get that. Seems like a relatively cheap way to differentiate yourself
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  • DatabaseHeadDatabaseHead Teradata Assc 16, Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012/2014, CSM Member Posts: 2,745 ■■■■■■■■■■
    Excel exam lol

    Proficient IMO means competent in other words able to use the tool or tools effectively. Can you create a resume? If so I would consider you proficient in Word.
  • revboxrevbox CompTIA: A+, Network+, Security+, Project+, CySA+ ISC2: SSCP Little Rock, ARMember Posts: 90 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Typically, it means can you name the software packages in the Office suite and do you have a general idea about where to find basic features under what menu. I had an interview a few weeks ago where they asked two questions about Office. The first was, "Do you know how to turn on non-printing characters in Microsoft Word" and the other was "If you wanted to place a formula in a cell in Microsoft Excel, what would you type first". It was for a service desk role.
  • dontstopdontstop Member Posts: 579 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I think it was Greg Ferro <http://etherealmind.com/&gt; who mentioned that he once saw a user punch a whole bunch of data into a spreadsheet and then whipped out a calculator and summed the data manually.

    To be proficient at Office means different things to different people, but generally it's a low effort HR phrase to just ensure you know how to use the basics of the packages e.g.
    • Uses headings in Word
    • Can do basic document layout and formatting in Word
    • Can do basic arithmetic functions in Excel
    • etc.
    Seeing as though each package can be used by many different professionals it's hard to say any one person could master all of the Office suite.
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