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Beginner’s Guide to Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel is a program within the Office suite of software that allows you to organize, filter, and create visual representations of data. While it is most commonly used in the financial sector because of its advanced mathematical capabilities, it can be applied to any profession that has to work with large amounts of data.

This program can help create budgets, calendars, and balance sheets. It also has many shortcuts embedded in the software which help reduce the amount of time needed to spend analyzing data. This guide will help you understand some of the most common uses of Excel in the professional world. You’ll also learn more about how becoming familiar with Excel can help you advance your career.

Common Uses of Excel

When you break it down to the most basic functions, Excel is a perfect tool for entering and storing data. For example, one spreadsheet in Excel can hold over one million rows and over 16 thousand columns—that’s a lot of raw data. The program also has a feature called Data Form, which allows you to further customize your data to meet your individual needs. You can use it to create things like custom mailing lists and schedules for your employees. 

Excel is also commonly used for administrative tasks like managing tasks and keeping track of a budget. Excel enables you to develop unique flow charts that can be further customized with animation and text. The software also includes several budgeting templates that are all user-friendly. Since Excel is already able to perform complex calculations, it is incredibly simple to organize your results. 

Finally, Excel is regularly used to create reports and forecast future trends for a business. The application’s capability to generate charts and graphs is often used when giving formal presentations. These are especially useful when presenting to people who may have less of an understanding of the raw data than you do; the visual representation of the information you’re sharing is easier to understand. Again, the software comes with an assortment of templates for graphing, but you also can fully customize your visuals if you choose. 

Using Excel to Advance your Career

There are several careers that require significant Excel use on a daily basis. For example, financial analysts and business analysts both need to keep track of large amounts of important data, and they need to be able to access specific pieces of data quickly. Excel helps these professionals stay organized and keeps businesses on track. 

Even if you aren’t planning to pursue one of these careers, proficiency in Excel can improve your professional skills for a lot of jobs in more ways than you might think. It demonstrates to your employers and supervisors that you can understand and communicate ideas effectively based on your ability to interpret raw data. It is common for employers to require proficiency with Excel in their job descriptions, and some will ask potential employees to perform some functions in Excel to make sure they have the relevant skills to meet the job requirements. 

Many employers also list soft skills in their job descriptions. These skills are more subjective and can be difficult to quantify; they usually include things like communication, organization, and multitasking. Believe it or not, Excel can help you in these areas, too. For example, if you are juggling several different assignments and deadlines (common in many workplaces), you can create an Excel spreadsheet to help you manage your workload and prioritize efficiently. Excel also gives you access to a lot of information very quickly, which will help you communicate with your teammates and customers. Excel can help you generate appealing graphics to show how sales are going, or it can help you see how many of a particular item is still in stock. Having quick access to accurate information is highly valuable and should not be overlooked. 

Learn Excel with Career Centers

If you’re looking to boost your resume or just become more proficient in Excel, you can check out the Microsoft Excel Courses offered by Career Centers. These are available live online or in-person at its Manhattan campus. Career Centers offers an Excel for Business Fundamentals course that covers all of the basic functions that Excel offers. There are also Intermediate and Advanced Excel for Business courses that teach increasingly more advanced tools for data analysis. If you want to take all of these at the same time, there is an Excel for Business Bootcamp which covers all of the information in the previous three courses for a reduced price. 

For those with more expertise, Career Centers has several Advanced Excel Courses available as well. There is Excel Programming with VBA, which teaches students how to automate processes within Excel. This enables you to accomplish your work faster and with fewer errors. Career Centers also has an Advanced Excel for Financial Modeling course available. This course focuses on the financial models created with Excel and is best suited for those working in finance or accounting. Some of these advanced courses require that you’ve taken some prerequisite courses first, but others are open to beginners. All courses are taught in small groups and are eligible for free retakes within six months of the original class.

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