Proficiency in Excel

The notion of being “proficient in Excel” is one that has been tossed around for quite some time, especially on resumes. It has become a means to cater to employers’ job requirements. Claiming proficiency in Excel without having the knowledge to back it up can be detrimental to both productivity and success. You need to have more than a basic knowledge of keying numbers and should be able to use the Data menu bar extremely well.  Consider your skill level within the following areas to test if you have more than a beginner level of proficiency in Microsoft Excel.

Sort & Filter

The Sort and Filter function is a basic yet powerful function in Excel. Typically, every job requiring any skill level in Excel will require sorting and filtering. It is essential in the organization of data. Mastery of this tool can be an indication of proficiency in Excel.

Linking Cells

This is the process of connecting one cell in order to display the contents of another. Using this skill can lead to increased accuracy, productivity, and less repetitiveness. It is also one of the most commonly used functions in Excel.

Formula Creation

Formula creation is arguably one of the main components of Microsoft Excel. Every user of Excel should have knowledge of basic functions, as well as how to put them together using the “nesting” technique. Nesting involves the use of parentheses and commas to combine multiple functions.


Excel contains numerous chart layout options – about 70 to be specific. Combinations can also be made between different chart types. Users should possess the ability to craft a simple chart, as well as select the appropriate chart to represent message or data.

Distribution Options

Users should have knowledge and possess the ability to distribute Excel documents. There are multiple ways to distribute an Excel document including, whether it be via digital or hard copy. It is pertinent that users be able to quickly deliver documents in Excel version 2003 or 2007, as well as higher formats.


Use of Excel requires some level of analytical skill. The ability to think analytically and critically allows users to apply the tools available in Excel to discover new, dynamic, and innovative ways to solve business problems. Excel’s tools are the building blocks to more advanced tools, applications, and techniques.

These are the core elements of Excel.  Advanced levels of Excel include being able to use VLOOKUP, macros and pivot tables.  It is important that business owners become aware of these skills so that screening candidates will be more efficient, just as it is important for candidates to own up to their skill levels. There are numerous excel courses, both online and in-person, as well as prep materials that can help to develop and improve your skillset.  Mastery of these tools serve as the building blocks to greater efficiency.

Jennie Moussa is a Marketing Analyst at Consultants 2 Go.