It takes a lot to get ahead in the finance and accounting world. Intelligence, creativity, leadership, networking skills, and luck. But sometimes mastering the basic skills can have the biggest impact.
That’s why it’s important to get the most out of foundational tools like Excel. Any job you get in finance or accounting will require that you have a basic knowledge of the program. Meanwhile, knowing some of the advanced tricks will make your life easier and open up new possibilities.
Statistics back this up. One study showed that nearly two-thirds of companies (63%) think of Excel as a vital accounting tool.
At the same time, consider how competitive accounting and finance can be. Each year, nearly 55,000 people graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in accounting. Another nearly 22,000 will get a Master’s degree in the subject.
That’s a lot of new candidates entering the market each year. You need to find ways to stand out. That means getting the most out of every tool, including Excel. With that in mind, here are the top skills you need to know to land a finance and accounting job:
Learn the Fundamentals
Always start with the basics, right? It might seem like everyone can do the bread-and-butter tasks on Excel. That might be true to some extent. But getting the most out of these elemental tools will create a great foundation for more complex functions.
- Formulas: You won’t get very far in Excel without a working knowledge of the formulas and functions capabilities. This lets you create algorithms you can use to speed your computational tasks.
- Conditional Formatting: This process lets you set rules that will change the formatting of a cell-based on what appears there. Make losses red and profits black, for example. Mastering this will let you build more readable spreadsheets.
Crunching the Numbers
You don’t just want to compile data. You want to use it. Excel provides tools to make that possible, letting you analyze the information you input.
- Pivot Table Analysis: This function summarizes and reorganizes your data, letting you look at it from a fresh point of view.
- Data Validation: Avoid mistakes in your data entry by putting this feature in place. It limits the type of information that can be entered into a cell.
- What-If Analysis: Use Excel to dream about what could be. This tool lets you change values in a cell and see how it will impact outcomes in other areas of your spreadsheet.
Communicating Your Findings
Finding a crucial insight into the data is just the first step. You also have to convince your coworkers and your managers to follow your findings.
The ability to communicate information is crucial. A simple spreadsheet rarely does the job adequately. Luckily, Excel has some functions to help on this front.
- Sparklines: This feature creates small charts inside a cell within a spreadsheet. It gives a very quick visual summary of the shape of change data has over time.
- Create Charts Based on Data: Nothing tells a story better than a picture. Excel’s charting functions let you boil down the numbers into a more appealing format.
- Create Tables: You can also easily turn your data into a referenceable table, ready for insertion into any report.
Ability to Learn New Excel Skills
We know: this isn’t strictly an Excel skill. But continually adding new tricks in the software will help you become more efficient over time. Eventually, you’ll be able to get more done and achieve better results, thanks only to your upgraded Excel skills.
This is true for technology in general. From the abacus to the adding machine to the calculator to high-powered accounting software, success in finance and accounting has always involved a certain level of tech-savviness. Start with Excel and then expand your skills with other powerful accounting and finance programs.
Talking about Your Results
Here’s another one that has little to do with the nuts and bolts of operating Excel. Still, learning to talk about your Excel-based results will give your career a step up.
Finance and accounting topics can be difficult to understand for people not versed in the technical language. And, let’s face it, the subjects can prove very boring as well. Try showing an average person one of your Excel “a-ha!” discoveries. Expect a yawn or a puzzled look.
For these reasons, your ability to explain financial topics to non-specialists will make you a valuable part of any finance team. You’ll be able to share your Excel-driven insights with clients and others outside the narrow group of industry professionals.
Ready to put your Excel skills to work? PrideStaff can help you find the ideal accounting and finance job.
Contact PrideStaff Bend today to locate the perfect outlet for your skills and background.