Hired with Excel: My Background

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This is part of the “Hired with Excel” series. Read the last post here.

My Story

This series is the guide I wish I’d had when applying for analyst jobs. It is my hope that you do not make the same mistakes.

My history with Excel began in college. I figured I could just get my degree and the employers were obligated to hire me. I never considered that first I would need to provide something valuable to them.

A few wise professors and alumni urged me to learn Excel, saying that a job candidate without it would have little to offer employers employers.

Of course, I didn’t listen. Why should I learn Excel? Isn’t that what workplace training is for?

Upon graduation, as a well-educated 21-year old, I had finally realized that I had little value to future employers. And I had big questions that I didn’t know how to answer. So, like a good debt-loving Millennial, I went to graduate school, for a Master’s degree in finance, and the degree has served me well. Graduate school was a big step toward building some marketable skills, specifically in Excel. Without these skills, I would have had no chance finding a job.

I applied for dozens of jobs and even got interviews at many of them. Although I was decent at Excel, I had little understanding of how it is used in a business setting. The two major topics covered in this book were hardly covered at my business school.

It was only until I developed these skills on my own that I found a job. I first worked as an analyst at a large specialty retailer in both finance and merchandising for about a year and a half. Then I became a business analyst at a large hospital. I have since spent more time on Excel than on any other computer application — that includes email and the Internet.

In the past three years, I went from the clueless kid in the interview to the office “Excel nerd.” This book lays out the mistakes I made in the hope that you can avoid them when searching for an analyst job.

Don’t just wait for a college or grad school to teach you Excel-based data analysis. If taught at all, it is likely different from what you will use at work. Don’t confuse a college degree with adequate preparation for an analyst job.

Your school is also not likely to teach how to market and communicate your Excel skills. To get hired as an analyst, you need to speak the language of an analyst. That language is Excel.

Treat Excel as the tool of your trade and don’t assume employers owe you the job.

Photo courtesy StartupStockPhotos.

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