Hired with Excel: The Pareto Handyman

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This is part of the “Hired with Excel” series. Read the previous posts on the good and the bad in Excel.

This series will give you actionable tips on the two most commonly used Excel tools. Really know these and you should not have trouble convincing employers of your Excel skills.

Excel use follows the Pareto Rule — that is, 80% of your work will use about 20% of your domain knowledge. So rather than detail every Excel formula out there, get a strong grip on the most common functions.

Consider this analogy. Have you ever heard about the handyman who could fix anything with WD-40 and duct tape? Sure, he would need to use another tool every so often. But these two simple, versatile tools sufficed for most problems.

Think of the analyst’s job as that of spreadsheet handyman. Most of what you need to fix things can be done with two tools. Your duct tape is the vlookup, and your WD-40 is the PivotTable.

Duct tape is perfect for providing a steady hold between two objects. This is just what the vlookup does. WD-40 lubricates. Same for the PivotTable — it loosens up your data for easier analysis.

Let’s start with the duct tape — the vlookup. This formula is loved by analysts worldwide as a quick, effective way to merge sets of data.

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