5 Basic Excel Skills and How to Include Them in Your Resume

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated November 14, 2022 | Published July 26, 2021

Updated November 14, 2022

Published July 26, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Related: Resume Skills: 5 Winning Strategies + Mistakes to AVOID

In this video, Holl shares the best strategy for your resume skills section to appeal to employers.

Having basic Excel skills allows job seekers to manage and organize spreadsheets with increased proficiency. Basic Excel users understand core functions and the logic behind Excel formulas. Being a beginner Excel user requires both hard and soft skills to become familiar with the software and apply its functions in your work. In this article, we discuss basic Excel skills, share advice on how to list these skills in a resume, and answer frequently asked questions about these essential skills.

What are basic Excel skills?

Excel is a spreadsheet software program and comes as part of the Microsoft Office Suite. Excel allows users to create and navigate spreadsheets and the data within them. With Excel, you can input data, which is then organized and calculated with functions and formulas. This helps you complete tasks and represent data more efficiently. That's why you can benefit from including your basic Excel skills in your resume. These skills help you:

  • navigate: Data is analyzed and organized to navigate company goals and confirm strategic plans

  • calculate: Data is calculated to determine whether company budgets are being respected

  • record: Data is recorded and inputted for company records

Related: How to Improve Your Skill Set and Keep Skills Current

Five basic Excel skills to include in your resume

Here's a list of basic Excel skills to include in your resume:

1. Data recording

Basic Excel users must know how to navigate and record data. This includes moving data from documents and transferring the information into Excel. Users must also know how to develop financial strategies and budgets. Users can develop schedules by taking original documents and rebuilding the schedules in Excel.

2. Formulas

There are some formulas you need to know for basic Excel skills:

  • Sum: This function provides you with the sum of the values you've selected. You can use numbers, cell references, arrays, and other values accepted in spreadsheets.

  • Average: The average function provides you with the average of the values you inputted.

  • Max/Min: These functions are valuable because they provide you with the maximum and minimum values in the range of cells you've selected.

  • Count: This function provides you with the number of cells that contain numbers.

3. Charts and graphs

Potential employers expect people with these Excel skills to understand and create charts and graphs. This is useful when you need to discuss data with a team or your coworkers. When charts and graphs are represented in Excel, they're easier to understand thanks to the visual medium used. By showing proficiency in reading graphs and charts, you're demonstrating an interest in how you represent data.

4. Data organization

Knowing how to sort through pre-existing data is allows you to determine which data is relevant and which is not. Use your data organization and filtering skills to find the logic behind your data. Do this by organizing data in ascending or descending order, alphabetical order, or using other organizational techniques.

5. Pivot tables

Pivot tables are used when you must summarize large amounts of data. Pivot tables allow you to reorder data so it's better organized. By using pivot tables, you can transform data so that it's more manageable and understandable.

How to include Excel skills on your resume effectively

Here are some tips to help you write about Excel skills on your resume:

1. Detail Excel skills on your resume

When writing your resume, list your skills accurately and elaborately. Write about how each skill has helped you in your career, as well as which functions you've performed. Discuss how you plan to use these skills in the new role.

Example: "Two years of experience with Microsoft Excel using functions such as Sum, Average, Max/Min, and creating new spreadsheets. I would use these basic skills in this role to plan the annual budget."

2. Provide examples

When listing your experience as a beginner Excel user, detail how you've used this tool with clear examples. Ask yourself how your skills have made you a better employee in the past and discuss this in your cover letter and resume. This shows an employer that you've both used Excel and have been an efficient worker because of it.

Example: "Developed new budgets and company strategies by taking previous budget reports into account and creating detailed pivot tables."

3. Describe certifications

Next, consider discussing your qualifications and certifications in your resume and cover letter. This includes any seminars, courses, or formal training. By demonstrating that you've taken the time to attend formal training, you're showing potential employers that your quality of work matters to you. If you've learned your skills on the job, you can highlight that as well.

Example: "Developed deeper understanding of basic Excel functions after completing the Microsoft Excel Basics course at Canada University."

Top 5 soft skills to use Excel

Here's a list of some top skills to thrive when completing basic Excel tasks:

1. Attention to detail

Basic Excel users must have expert attention to detail to identify potential errors in spreadsheets. Users must also know which functions to use to get the desired information and data presentations.

Related: Attention to Detail

2. Communication

Excel users must communicate with others to obtain data required for functions and spreadsheets. To master Excel, you must also have good communication skills. Users must present their findings to colleagues and upper management.

Related: Four Types of Communication (With Examples)

3. Dependability

To be an Excel user, you must demonstrate dependability. This is because basic Excel users are expected to provide consistent results that depend on deadlines. Your team must have confidence in knowing that when you're part of an Excel project, you deliver results.

4. Adaptability

Excel is a complex tool that requires you to adapt to new situations and functions. Sometimes users enter particular functions with an idea of how their graphs and charts will turn out, only to find that these data presentations have gone in a completely different direction. Because of this, you must be ready to adapt to difficult situations and find solutions when errors occur.

5. Problem-solving

When you come at problems with the mindset that every issue has a solution, you're more likely to strive for better results. By demonstrating good problem-solving skills, you can determine the best solutions when errors occur. It's easy to input the wrong number or letter when creating spreadsheets, which is why you must be ready to solve problems at any time. The wrong data input can drastically change your spreadsheet, so solving problems must be one of your best skills.

Related: A Guide to Soft Skills

Frequently asked questions about basic Excel skills

Using Excel requires practice and dedication, and you may have more questions about its various functions. Here's a list of frequently asked questions about Excel skills:

What are some limitations of Excel?

Excel has many advantages that allow employees to work more efficiently. When looking at limitations, it should be noted that Excel does have some user bias because the way data is organized depends on individual employees and, as such, is subject to user bias.

Learning how to use Excel syntax also requires a basic understanding of the software. Excel syntax involves the layout of spreadsheets and the order of spreadsheet functions. For example, all formulas must start with an equal (=) sign.

What should basic Excel users know?

Users must know the formulas mentioned above and the logic behind these formulas. Beginner users navigate calculations, add columns and rows, and can do other basic functions. You must also know how to navigate cell references, different styles, and various keyboard shortcuts.

Basic Excel users must know the difference between a formula and a function. Functions are the foundation of Excel formulas and are used to input data. Formulas are essentially cell entries that contain functions. With the formula tab, Excel users can insert the aforementioned functions, review formulas, and create name ranges.

What is the difference between basic, intermediate, and advanced Excel skills?

There are a few differences between basic, intermediate, and advanced Excel skills. Beginner users understand and use basic formulas like SUM and AVERAGE to determine values.

When looking at intermediate levels, users navigate more complex formulas. An intermediate Excel user, for example, uses more elaborate TEXT and DATE functions. They also learn VLookup, Countif, and Sumif.

Advanced Excel users navigate more complex formulas and can structure and present their data more impressively. These users navigate conditional formatting, advanced charting, pivot reporting, and macros.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Explore more articles