As I reviewed a resume recently with a young person in preparation for anticipated job interview questions, I encountered the following item in the qualifications section.
- Advanced skills in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access
Given her limited work history, I knew prospective employers would doubt that her Microsoft Office skills were at the advanced level she claimed. I asked if she could prove advanced skills. Could she demonstrate those skills if requested during a job interview? Not only did she not have a way to prove that she had Advanced Microsoft Word skills, but she could not name one such skill. She was not prepared to handle what were highly predictable job interview questions in her line of work. Notice that I didn’t say she didn’t actually have advanced skills, but that she wasn’t ready to support her claims.
Exactly What Are Advanced Microsoft Word Skills Anyway?
Do you know what skills a prospective employer would expect if you claimed on your resume to have Advanced Microsoft Word Skills? How would you answer job interview questions about your proficiency in Microsoft Word? Could you prepare a table of contents, footnotes and endnotes for a document with 20 chapters and 200 pages? How about “managing and tracking document changes, using highlights and comments”? I’m not asking whether you could run to the library on the way home and grab a book on Word skills. I mean if at the end of a job interview, they stuck you in a room with a computer, could you demonstrate those skills right now? What about Microsoft Word 2010?
Most Intermediate Microsoft Word skills, such as creating and formatting complex tables, would be a stretch for many of us unless they had been previously required in our employment. It’s not a question of whether you could easily get up to speed on these skills if you turned out to need them after you were hired. Most of us could do that. But what if many of the jobs you are looking for all say that they want Advanced Microsoft Office proficiency but you don’t yet have them?
Show Your Microsoft Word Skills with 5 Simple Strategies
- Use research tools, including information interviews with current company contacts to identify exactly what the employer does require for the position you are seeking.
- Come prepared to the job interview with checklists that honestly reflect your current skill levels with Microsoft Office suite. Include that one page in your portfolio. Some organizations ask for advanced Microsoft Office suite skills for every job posting, but it’s not likely they actually need them. If possible,
- Revise your resume to honestly describe your current skills, such as Intermediate Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel and Beginner Microsoft PowerPoint and Access. That should seem more credible than a claim of advanced skills across the entire Microsoft Office Suite. Unless your previous employment required very sophisticated skills or you have extensive training, that simply is not credible. You definitely can’t expect them to take your word for it.
- Upgrade your skills regularly: Over time, keep adding to your skills as part of your job interview preparation. You don’t need to wait until a prospective employer gives you a reason to add the skill. Free training, including videos on YouTube and books at your local library, is widely available,! When you can demonstrate another skill, upgrade your skills list.
- Create a demonstration document that you could bring with you to the job interview or even email in advance. For example, find a simple text version of a classic novel or other public domain document. Reformat the document, demonstrating the full range of Intermediate and Advanced Skills in Microsoft Word 2010. Create a new PDF file with an index to examples in the document of each of the skills you are claiming. Bring that PDF file with you on an inexpensive USB drive that you can leave behind at the end of the interview!
Prepare for Job Interview Questions on Microsoft Office Skills
Job seekers need to arrive at the job interview prepared to respond appropriately for all predictable questions. To do that, reassure a prospective employer that you have the up-to-date Microsoft Office skills, especially if those qualifications wouldn’t be indicated by previous work experience. The checklists in the MS Office Skills Checklists section of this site can help you to credibly communicate.
Does all this sound like a lot of work? I’m not suggesting that it isn’t, but it may set you apart from the competition. Don’t just claim your qualifications. Use the checklists to prove them!
Do you have other suggestions? Please let me know!
Check out this Slideshare presentation on how these checklists can benefit you!