How to Show That You're Proficient in Microsoft Office

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 29 November 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.

Whether you're a novice or expert-level professional, knowing how to use Microsoft Office applications skilfully can help you differentiate yourself from other candidates. There are several programs that you can learn and become more capable of using. Once you become a more advanced user, you can highlight your expertise in your job application materials. In this article, we explore what it means to be proficient in Microsoft Office and examine three steps on how to include your MS Office skills on your resume, including a list of MS Office certifications you can obtain to advance your career.

What does it mean to be proficient in Microsoft Office?

Being proficient in Microsoft Office means you possess the skills and expertise to use the collection of Microsoft Office suite software products efficiently. While MS Office is a composite of many different programmes, most employers only require that you possess competency in the specific programmes that see common use in the workplace, like Microsoft Word, PowerPoint or Excel. However, it can still be beneficial to enhance your capabilities with all the Microsoft Office programmes to help you become a more marketable candidate during your job search. The Microsoft Office programmes you can become more proficient at using include:

Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel is a frequently desired proficiency for employees to have when working in an office environment. Professionals can use Excel for logging and analysing financial data, keeping track of business information and calculating formulas. While the programme has many more uses, your competency may also include working with Excel in similar approaches. The following Excel tasks are often highly desirable in a candidate:

  • Using pivot tables to sort and calculate data averages to enhance and make data entry and analysis more efficient

  • Using Excel's formula functions for basic math calculations and linking data between spreadsheets

  • Using specific formulas and commands like V-Lookup to locate data sets in large databases

  • Using filters and subtotal functions to format data for presentations

  • Using Excel's formatting features to apply specific fonts, styles, colours and other visually appealing formatting styles to spreadsheets

Related: Excel Skills: Definition and Examples

Microsoft Word

As one of the most common word processing applications on the market, it can be beneficial to develop your proficiency with Word, no matter the job or employer you want to pursue. While some employers may not be specifically looking at your Word skills, it's still important that you have some proficiency in performing the following tasks in Word:

  • Using Word formatting features for page set-up, custom headers and footers, numbered pages, font style, formatting multiple columns and custom page layouts like novel view or web page view

  • Using design elements like Word's drawing tools, text boxes, graphics and font and background colours to build custom templates

  • Formatting text boxes and word art to create visually appealing deliverables for letterheads, newsletters, flyers and webpages

  • Applying Word's webpage format feature to build basic web pages and upload webpage designs to business websites

Microsoft PowerPoint

This is an application you primarily use to develop and showcase presentations. Your proficiency with this programme can demonstrate to an employer that you can design visually engaging slides and implement PowerPoint design options to create custom templates. Consider highlighting the following tasks to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise:

  • Developing and designing custom elements using elements like textures and colours

  • Applying different features, such as animations and transitions to enhance the presentation

  • Using customisation tools like transition loops, animations and display timers

Microsoft Publisher

Microsoft Publisher is a more specialised MS Office that provides a diverse range of design capabilities. You can use this application to create materials like product posters, company brochures, informational flyers and other deliverables you can print and share with others. Here are some of the most useful skills when engaging with this programme:

  • Applying layers, filters and multiple dimensions to your documents and designs

  • Importing and exporting files in the Publisher platform

  • Using illustration tools like decorative fonts, logos, pictures and graphics

Microsoft OneNote

This word processing program allows you to create a diverse range of documents, like memos, resumes and contracts. This is a proficiency that can be useful for many job roles, even if the employer doesn't ask for it specifically from candidates. Here are some capabilities you can highlight to demonstrate your proficiency in using Microsoft Word:

  • Applying the webpage format feature to develop simple web pages and upload your webpage design to the company website.

  • Formatting word art and text boxes to create aesthetically pleasing documents like flyers, webpages, newsletters and letterheads.

  • Implementing design elements to enhance your document, like text boxes, drawing tools, graphics, background colours and stylistic fonts.

  • Using features to organise your document, like customer foots and headers, numbered pages, page alignment and custom page layouts.

How to highlight your proficiency in Microsoft Office on your resume

Here are the steps you can take to demonstrate your Microsoft Office proficiency on your resume:

1. Thoroughly research organisations and job opportunities

Many positions only require that you're competent in using specific MS Office applications, so it's important to research jobs and organisations first to learn about the MS skills they want from their candidates. For example, a job description might highlight that they want a candidate who is proficient at using Microsoft PowerPoint because they rely on the program to build slide shows and other visual aids. In this scenario, the ability to develop visually appealing content is a capability that can help elevate the relevancy of your resume.

Related: Your Online Career Coach: Advanced Job Search Tips to Get the Job

2. Align your skill set to the job requirements

After you research jobs and uncover the specific Microsoft Office skills an employer wants from their candidates, make a list of the applications you can use properly or have experience using within a professional capacity. Generally, it's appropriate to only include an MS Office program proficiency if you have advanced or expert-level knowledge of how to use it.

You might also want to include examples of your past work experiences using them. For example, if a job listing says they want a proficient Word user, then it's appropriate to include the programme as one of your skills if you're an advanced or expert-level user of it.

Related: How to Display Skill Levels on Your CV (With Tips)

3. Only include MS Office proficiencies relevant to the job

Once you align your proficiencies to the specific job requirements, highlight them on your resume so they are clear and visible to the employer at a glance. Consider only including relevant skills in the document. For example, if the job description only mentions Word proficiency, then try to include just that competency to help your resume appear more direct and relevant to the position.

Related: 212 Resume Action Verbs (With Tips and Examples)

Microsoft Office certifications to advance your career

Several MS Office certifications are available if you decide to pursue training and qualification in Microsoft applications. Depending on your job role and the industry you work in, the Microsoft certification you choose may typically fall under one of the following certification types:

Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certification

You can obtain an MTA certification to demonstrate your proficiency in a specific technical field like software development, database management or security and networking. This certification can be beneficial if you plan on working in a technical career. It doesn't require you to complete any prerequisite coursework or certifications.

Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) certification

If you pursue a Microsoft certification at the MTA level, you may also be interested in pursuing certification at the next level. The MCSA certification is the next level of certification after an MTA certification and can further qualify you to work with Microsoft for developing cloud-based and on-site solutions and working with specific Microsoft applications like SQL Server, Windows Client or Office. The MCSA certification requires you to have your MTA before advancing to this level.

Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) certification

The MCSE certification focuses on solutions applications at an expert level and requires the MCSA and MTA certifications. Typically, this level of certification can be common among IT professionals, especially those who work specifically within Microsoft platforms to develop both cloud-based and on-site solutions.

Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) certification

The MCSD certification is relevant to the MCSE certification, as both are expert-level credentials that demonstrate technical skills in Microsoft applications. The MCSD can be more common among software developers who build and maintain applications and programmes in a Microsoft operating system. Both the MTA and MCSA certifications are prerequisites for obtaining your MCSD certification.

Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification

The MOS certification credential demonstrates your skills in using the most common Microsoft applications, like MS Excel, MS Word and MS PowerPoint. The MOS certification can be beneficial for advancing your career, as it allows you to demonstrate your hands-on expertise with the Microsoft programmes professionals regularly use in business environments.

Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) certification

The MCT certification allows professionals to deliver and instruct Microsoft coursework and certification prep classes using the Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC). Obtaining your MCT certification can help you further advance your career by qualifying you for additional job opportunities training, instructing or providing technical assistance to students and professionals in a variety of settings.

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

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