Businesses are obsessed with data – and for good reason. We turn data into meaningful insights to understand how we can successfully implement new strategies for growth, reduce risk, increase productivity, and manage costs. Essentially, we try to use data to predict and plan for the future, and with data being collected around the clock, most career paths today require some level of data literacy.
Data literacy can be defined loosely as the ability to read, understand, produce and communicate data as information. Your industry and chosen career path will influence the way you use data, and a basic understanding of Microsoft Excel will be useful, if not essential, to get ahead when job hunting or punting for a promotion at work. Here is a breakdown of six careers that need Excel skills.
- Business Analysts and Data Analysts
If you enjoy gleaning information in Excel and looking for patterns and connections, a career as a business analyst or data analyst might be worth considering.
Data analysts gather and manipulate data, and then analyse it for useful information. Business analysts, on the other hand, study data and find connections to help organizations make strategic, well-informed business decisions.
Although the way they work with data is slightly different, both roles need Excel to perform their tasks effectively.
Excel is useful to clean up large datasets and extract valuable information from them with functions and filters. Excel also allows analysts to examine spreadsheets to find patterns, identify strengths and weaknesses, and make projections about business performance. Business analysts often make use of a powerful Excel feature called the PowerPivot to create smarter insight from larger datasets.
2. Project Managers
Project managers are the butter that keep things together. Project managers plan and co-ordinate timelines and budgets to ensure everyone stays on track and within budget throughout the different stages of a project. They can work in a broad range of fields, departments and teams, meaning their skills are highly valued and transferrable.
In a typical workday, a project manager might be required to perform a number of the following tasks: set expectations, outline objectives, delegate work, supervise teams and report on progress.
All these tasks require brilliant organization skills and software, and Excel is often the main tool used by project managers to keep track of task progress, budgets, calendars and information for their reports.
Perhaps the most obvious of careers that need Excel skills is an Accountant. Accountants work to keep businesses profitable by keeping track of cash flows, income statements and tax returns.
Although the history of Excel doesn’t indicate who Excel was created for, perhaps the spreadsheet-obsessed Accountant influenced a lot of Excel’s key functions?
Nowadays, Excel supports built-in, complex mathematical features to help accountants perform typical accounting tasks like budgeting, generating financial statements and creating balance sheets.
Journalists investigate and report on topical stories, often about current events and newsworthy engagements that will affect the general public.
To ensure that their stories reflect the correct information and are representative of the communities they report on, journalists often draw on sources to back up their data and claims. Journalists, especially data journalists, need their sources to be credible and they need the information they site to be accurate. No journalist wants to be labeled as a creator of fake news!
Journalists therefore use tools to keep track of data and often use Excel to interpret figures and create accurate visualizations. That way, they can offer valuable insight to the public in a way that is easy to understand.
5. Digital Marketers
The internet and social media have fundamentally changed the way businesses engage with their customers and clients. Today, developing effective marketing strategies is largely based on interpreting and understanding data. Customer profiling has never been easier, and a lot of data is available to marketers on the internet and within the insight’s sections of a brand’s social media feeds.
Digital marketers use data analytics and built-in social media insights to keep track of conversions, impressions and engagements. This data is often ‘mined’ and entered into programmes like Excel to record and evaluate data, sometimes alongside field research findings. Insights drawn from this data is often used in reports and presentations, as well as to inform meaningful marketing strategies.
Excel is also used by marketers to create graphs, charts and other visualisations of campaign outcomes to inform managers of progress. Reports are also used to show how marketers are reaching their goals and achieving a high return on investment (ROI) on their proposed campaigns.
6. Administrative Assistants
Often the silent heroes of the office, administrative assistants are organized with excellent time management skills to keep everyone, and everything, on track. They are often the face of the company, being the first person a customer or client will meet and interact with at the office, so they often need to be approachable, friendly and helpful.
Administrative assistants have a variety of tasks to attend to throughout the day, which include ensuring that:
- documentation is up to date and filed correctly
- projects are on track and reports are organized
- appointments are booked and attended, and that feedback is provided if necessary
- gathering quotes and generating invoices
Office tasks such as these required a good working knowledge of Excel. Administrative assistant use Excel spreadsheets to store and update date such as customer information, product inventory and office supplies, and project progress reports. They also use Excel to generate invoices and compare quotes, for example. Overall, administrative assistants use Excel to ensure the smooth running of the workplace.
In a world that is forever trying to better the results of strategies, it’s no wonder we rely so heavily on data management systems like Excel in our day-to-day business operations. There are so many careers that need Excel skills, not just the six discussed here. If you’d like to accelerate your career growth with new Excel skills, consider joining our next public training courses or signing up for one of our online MS Excel courses. We understand the value of working efficiently in Excel and we strive to empower our clients to feel confident using data every day, no matter their role.