You’re Finally Hired….Congratulations!
First of all, know that with these skills you are going to impress your boss. Your coworkers will appreciate you, too. Good spreadsheet analysts are rare.
But what should you expect on the job? While the culture and workflow will vary with the employer, the Excel situation is likely to be the same. You probably will see a lot of spreadsheet inefficiencies — hard-coded cells, data that makes more sense in a PivotTable, and more. Don’t be afraid to change things. Just because a certain report has been done the same way for years doesn’t mean it is the right way to do it. Tell your boss you have a more efficient way and go for it.
Just make sure that your work is accurate!
Because you are nearly guaranteed to find spreadsheet inefficiencies, you can make an impact right away. It may take you months or years to understand the business and make strategic improvements, but you can streamline spreadsheets on Day 1.
Good spreadsheet skills will also help you understand the business. The simpler and more accurate your data reporting, the more time you can examine your data for business insights.
Think of your job training in two parts. Step 1 is to get the numbers right. Unfortunately, this will always be a challenge. But with the Excel tools in this book, things will be much easier. Step 2 is to understand what the numbers mean. This will take much longer, but you will get there.
If This Isn’t Working
What if your analyst job isn’t what you signed up for? For instance, at many companies you may get bogged down in reporting and never get a big-picture feel. Or you just don’t care for your industry. Maybe you have considered something more entrepreneurial. The good thing is that Excel knowledge is relevant no matter what you decide.
If the job is lacking pizazz, Consider whether you can improve it. At times I have been so overwhelmed with reporting that I felt I had no time to do any analysis. But I had the Excel skills to improve the workflow. Tasks that once took nearly an hour I had simplified into five minutes. With this extra time I could develop business insights with the data. Can you make things more efficient — and fun — in your current position?
Sometimes, though, either your employer is not receptive to your suggestions or you just don’t care about the industry. In this case, I would use the processes detailed in this book to look for another entry-level analyst job. No matter what industry, these skills are relevant.
Maybe you want to give up the 40-hour week altogether. Excel will be important here too. From budgeting to sales forecasting, basement startups and Fortune 500 companies use Excel. It is the great equalizer in data analysis. Good luck on your endeavors, and don’t forget to anchor your cell references!