How To Show Microsoft Office Skills On A Resume

By Chris Kolmar - Sep. 24, 2020
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Microsoft Office is the backbone of many companies and organizations. Because of this, HR departments want to know that if they hire you, they won’t need to train you on the basics. In this article, you’ll learn which Microsoft Office skills are worth brushing up on and featuring on your resume.

Microsoft Office Skills You Need

Some of the more specific Microsoft Office skills you need to hone depend on your job, but the basics tend to stay the same across industries. No matter what you do for a living, you need to be able to easily throw together a nice-looking document, spreadsheet, or presentation. Having a working knowledge of each platform will also allow you to more easily pick up on the more specific ins and outs of the programs you will be using for your particular job.

Types of Microsoft Office Skills

Microsoft Excel Skills

Even if you aren’t going to be making complex data reports in Microsoft Excel, you still need to know how to interact with this program on some level. You should especially make sure that you can list these skills on your resume if you’re going to be working with data, finances, or in any administrative setting. Here are some more specific skills to hone and then mention on your resume:

  1. Creating and Editing Formulas. Formulas are some of the most useful features in Excel. They can be tricky to get the hang of, though, so being able to create and adjust these quickly will make you a much more valuable employee. Once you know the basics, work on learning how to connect formulas across documents, between graphs, and more.

  2. Using Pivot Tables. Pivot tables allow you to read and manipulate large amounts of complex data quickly and accurately. Being comfortable with these will set you apart from other applicants, especially in an administrative or data-driven position, so make sure you work on your skills in this area and then list them on your resume.

  3. Formatting Graphs and Charts. Knowing how to use and manipulate the charts and graphs in Excel is important to being able to present data well. Beyond the technical aspects of this, it’s also important that you know which styles are best for the information you’re trying to present. Choosing the right type and then designing it to be easy to read can make all the difference when you’re trying to present data.

  4. Sorting Data. Even if it’s just making a simple alphabetical list, it’s important to be able to sort data in Excel. Knowing how to use multiple filters is ideal, as even the simpler spreadsheets you use may need to be sorted in a few different ways. Practice adding and using these filters quickly and without mixing up the cells.

  5. Creating workbooks and sheets. While it may not be a highly technical skill, knowing how and when to separate sheets and workbooks is vital. Each situation may call for a different setup, but knowing how to do this makes your document usable.

Microsoft Word Skills

Microsoft Word is one of the most versatile Microsoft products. You’ll need basic skills in this program no matter where you work, since reports, memos, and project plans are created in Word. Plus, it works well across Macs and PCs, making it easier to share documents without having to worry about converting files. Make sure to add this to the skills section of your resume regardless of what position you’re applying for. Here are some more specific areas of expertise you should have as well:

  1. Formatting Documents. Few things look more unprofessional than a poorly formatted Word document. From font sizes to spacing, you should know the general norms and features of proper formatting. Knowing how to create a document with multiple columns, appropriate headers and footers, and professional fonts will save you from embarrassment and make you a more valuable employee.

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  2. Using the Proofreading and Editing Tools. Microsoft added some very handy tools to Word that allow you to catch errors and changes that you wouldn’t normally be able to as easily. For example, you can show every line break and space so that you can troubleshoot your formatting or compare two different documents to see what changes have been made. Knowing how to use these tools and others like them will help you be a more efficient and effective employee.

  3. Making and Using Templates. Whether they’re helping you do your job more efficiently or they’re an organization-wide requirement, Word templates are common in many workplaces. Knowing how to use them is vital, and knowing how to make them is even better.

  4. Incorporating Text Boxes, Photos and Other Elements. You might find yourself needing to know how to add pull quotes, photos, and charts and graphs into your document. Being able to insert, create and format these elements will help you reach a higher level in your Word skills.

Microsoft PowerPoint Skills

You might associate Microsoft PowerPoint with lectures and conferences, but this program is useful for the layman presenter as well. Companies also use PowerPoint to provide training or announcements to employees, even if they simply email the presentation out. Even if the position you’re applying for doesn’t require you to use it very often, knowing your way around PowerPoint only adds to your value as an employee. If you’re comfortable with this program, be sure to include it on your resume, as well as any of these more specific skills within it:

  1. Creating and Working With Custom Templates and Themes. Many organizations make PowerPoint templates and themes to match company branding. Depending on your job, you’ll either need to know how to use them, how to create them, or both.

  2. Using the Notes Feature. Although the technical aspects of putting notes in with your slide aren’t complicated, the real skill comes in knowing what types of information should go there instead of in the slide itself. Some of this is a style choice that varies from person to person, but knowing the basic principles is beneficial.

  3. Printing the Presentation in Handout Form. Whether your job is to assist your boss in preparing for a presentation or giving updates to important investors yourself, knowing how to print out a PowerPoint presentation in handout form is a valuable skill to have. Thankfully, the program has presets for this, you just need to know how to find them on both a Mac and a PC.

  4. Designing an Engaging Presentation. This is also a skill that requires a good amount of practice, but as a professional you should know the basic principles of a quality PowerPoint presentation. Take note of good presentations you watch and work to hone your communication skills in this area, as this will increase the value that you bring to a business.

  5. Incorporating Animations and Multimedia Elements. To have truly effective PowerPoint skills, you should know how to incorporate multimedia elements like videos into your slides. Similarly, knowing the different animations you can add to a presentation and then using them tastefully is also a valuable skill to have.

More Microsoft Office Skills

While Microsoft Excel, Word, and PowerPoint are some of the most widely used Microsoft Office products, you may want to consider building up and listing these other skills on your resume as well:

  1. Microsoft Outlook. This email platform is a common one for companies to use, as it works well for large groups. Getting to know not only its mail functions, but also its more detailed scheduling and sorting components will bring you extra favor with a potential employer, especially if you’re going to be working in a communication-based role.

  2. Microsoft Publisher. Microsoft Publisher is used to create materials like event programs and newsletters, so it’s good to be at least familiar with it. Learn the formatting techniques that come with printing booklets and other multi-page documents to really make an impression.

  3. Cross-Platform Functions. One of the benefits of Microsoft Office is how well each program works together. For example, you can use the mail merge function to create and send out personalized emails using the data you’ve entered an Excel spreadsheet, all without leaving Word. Even if this skill isn’t mentioned in the job description, it’s good to bring up since it shows that you’re an efficient employee who truly knows Microsoft Office.

  4. OneNote. OneNote is a virtual, shareable notebook. It also allows you to add links, photos, and documents to your notes, making it a valuable tool for sharing research and other information with your team. While this isn’t as commonly used as Microsoft Word, it is worth at least having a basic understanding of the program.

  5. Office 365. With the rise of remote work and Office 365, it’s important that you know how to use some of the more popular programs within it such as Microsoft OneDrive and Microsoft Teams. OneDrive is a shared storage space, and Teams is a project management system that allows you to message and video chat with your team members. Knowing your way around these will make you more attractive to employers, as they will have to spend less time training you if they use these programs regularly.

How To Include Microsoft Office Skills On a Resume

When it comes time to show off your Microsoft Office skills while you’re applying for a new job, it can be difficult to know how to present them. As always, start by checking the job description you’re applying for to make sure you highlight any specific skills listed there. Then, incorporate them into your job experience if they fit well. You could say something like this:

  • Managed department’s budget and purchases with intermediate skills in Microsoft Excel

  • Coordinated with three other offices to complete projects using basic Microsoft Teams skills

  • Compiled, formatted and distributed quarterly reports to all staff using advanced skills in Microsoft Word and Microsoft Outlook

If your work experience doesn’t lend itself to featuring your Microsoft Office qualifications in this way, you can add them in a separate skills section. Try to give the hiring manager a picture of what you can do with each platform instead of simply saying that you can use it. If you have any relevant certifications, be sure to include those as well. Yours might look something like this:

Special Skills

  • Microsoft Word – Advanced skills creating and editing company memos, reports, and newsletters so that formatting remains consistent with company style guides. Used mail merge to create and send personalized emails to company employees and customers.

  • Microsoft Excel – Basic skills entering and sorting data. Used simple formulas and filters to organize customer contact information for the department.

  • Microsoft Outlook – Intermediate skills using Microsoft Outlook to send and manage emails and calendar events.

Beyond Your Resume

It’s usually a good idea to mention your Microsoft Office skills in your cover letter and interview as well, especially if the position you’re applying for puts an emphasis on them. Have a few examples ready of projects where you used your abilities and what you can do on each platform.

Be ready to demonstrate your skills by brushing up on any rusty areas before your interview. If your interviewer asks you about something that you don’t know how to do, be honest. Tell them that you don’t know and then explain how you would figure out how to do it. This shows that while you aren’t perfect, you are able and willing to teach yourself new skills.

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Chris Kolmar


Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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