Basic Microsoft Office skills don’t belong on your resume. The key word here is basic. More advanced or job-specific skills, on the other hand, are fair game. But what skills are considered basic in 2024? How do you accurately assess your own skill level? And how do you prove that your skills are genuinely a cut above the rest?
We’ll answer all those questions in a moment, but first: Here’s how to tell if you actually need to put Microsoft Office skills on your resume in the first place.
Do you need Microsoft Office skills on your resume?
Let’s take a look at some industries where Microsoft Office skills are essential (and what skills in particular you should highlight on your resume).
Administrative and secretarial roles
If you’re applying for an administrative role, you should definitely list Microsoft Office on your resume. In particular, you’ll need:
- Word for creating and editing documents
- Excel for basic data management
- Outlook for handling professional correspondence
Any job that works with a lot of data is going to require proficiency with Microsoft Office — Excel in particular. Try to highlight more advanced skills like:
- Pivot tables
- Complex formulas
Marketing and sales roles
For marketing and sales professionals, Microsoft Office may not be a huge part of your day-to-day, but you’ll still need PowerPoint presentation skills and the ability to create pitch decks.
On the other hand, there are some situations where it’s less cut and dried:
- Creative or technical roles often require their own specialized software, so prioritize those over general Microsoft Office skills.
- Recent graduates may see Microsoft Office skills as a good way to pad out a resume, but this is more likely to call attention to your lack of experience, unless they’re actually relevant to the role.
- Career changers should focus on transferable skills, but this doesn’t mean they need to be generic. Unless Microsoft Office skills are specifically mentioned in the job post, highlighting your soft skills is the better way to go here.
Now that you have a better understanding of whether to list Microsoft Office skills on your resume — here’s how.
How (and where) to put Microsoft Office skills on a resume
Like most things you want to highlight on your resume, Microsoft Suite proficiency doesn’t just belong in one place. You should aim to highlight it throughout your:
Let’s dive into a little more detail on each of these options.
Listing Microsoft Suite in your Skills section
This is the most obvious place for Microsoft Office skills to go, so it should still be your first stop. Settle on a handful of Microsoft Suite skills to list here — ideally, ones that are listed in the job ad or that you know to be essential to the role.
Microsoft Office Suite: Data Analysis with Excel, Mail Merge in Word, PowerPoint Presentations
Including Microsoft Office-based work experience
What’s even better than listing your skills outright? Showing them in action. If using Microsoft Office software is a major part of the position you’re applying for, you should also aim to include one or two related accomplishments in your Work Experience section.
- Used MS Word to draft and edit memos, correspondence, and reports, improving office efficiency by 20%.
- Leveraged advanced Excel features to maintain and analyze budget data, contributing to a 15% decrease in monthly expenses.
Highlighting key Office skills in a summary
In roles that require a high level of proficiency with Microsoft Office, it can also pay to highlight these skills upfront in a resume summary.
Detail-oriented Project Manager with 5 years of experience and strong expertise in utilizing Microsoft Project and PowerPoint for managing and presenting complex projects.
A helpful approach to determine if you have selected the appropriate section of your resume to highlight your specific Microsoft Office skills is by uploading your resume to the tool below – It will assess whether you have effectively showcased your Microsoft skills and provide insights on which of these skills should be included on your resume.
How to assess your proficiency levels
If you’re not quite sure how your own skills match up to the job you want, here’s a quick guide to deciphering skill levels in a job description.
- Beginner: You’re familiar with basic functions in core Microsoft Suite products, e.g. formatting text in Word, basic data entry in Excel.
- Intermediate: You’re comfortable with more complex tasks and can figure things out on your own, e.g., Mail Merge in Word, basic formulas in Excel.
- Advanced: You’re able to use advanced features effectively and can potentially train others to use them, e.g. Track Changes and Comments in Word, Pivot tables and complex formulas in Excel.
Now, let’s take a look at individual Microsoft Suite tools and what skills hiring managers really want to see on your resume.
Specific Microsoft Office skills for your resume
Excel isn’t just about data entry. If you aren’t familiar with pivot tables, VLOOKUP, complex formulas, and macros, you may not have the level of skill employers want to see when they ask for proficiency in Microsoft Excel. But if you do, you should be as specific as possible about what skills you have and how you’ve used them. For example:
In a resume summary: “Advanced Excel user with expertise in pivot tables, VLOOKUP, and creation of macros for efficient data processing.”
In your Work Experience bullet points: “Leveraged Excel's data analysis capabilities to identify cost-saving opportunities, resulting in a 20% reduction in departmental expenses.”
In an Additional section: List Excel certifications, e.g. “Microsoft Office Specialist: Excel Associate” or “Excel Expert.”
Unless you’re a true expert in Word, it probably isn’t worth listing on your resume — basic proficiency is expected in just about any professional role.
So, when should you include it? If you've used advanced features (like creating an automated Table of Contents, Mail Merge, or advanced formatting) and you’re in a role where these skills are essential.
If your Outlook skills are limited to sending and receiving email, it doesn’t belong on your resume. On the other hand, if you’re familiar with its more advanced features, it’s definitely okay to include accomplishments that say so. For example:
Effectively managed executive's complex calendar using Outlook, coordinating over 30 appointments weekly while minimizing conflicts.
Implemented new email categorization system in Outlook, improving response times by 25%.
When does MS Access belong on a resume? If you're applying for a role in data analysis or database management, include it. Otherwise, leave it off.
Again, don’t just list “Proficient in MS Access.” Instead, illustrate it with accomplishments like:
Utilized MS Access to design and manage intricate databases, enhancing data retrieval efficiency by 30%.
Other Microsoft Office tools
While other Microsoft Suite tools like OneNote, Teams, and Publisher may seem like attractive resume boosters, more skills don’t always make your resume more appealing. Like with any other skill, your rule of thumb should be: If it’s not in the job description, it doesn’t need to be on your resume.
Common mistakes to avoid
Now that you have a good understanding of what to do — here’s what you should avoid.
DON’T: List skills like “Proficient in Microsoft Office.” This is too vague and doesn’t say anything about what you can actually do.
DO: Be specific about the tools you’ve used and what you achieved with them.
Used advanced Excel functions to develop comprehensive sales reports, driving a 15% increase in quarterly revenue.
Including basic skills
DON’T: Include basic skills like “Microsoft Word.” Hiring managers already expect this, so listing it just makes you appear out of touch.
DO: Skip mentioning basic Word processing skills — unless you can tie them to a tangible accomplishment.
Implemented template standardization in MS Word, improving document consistency across the team.
Listing irrelevant skills
DON’T: List every single Microsoft Office product you’re familiar with.
DO: Only list skills that align with the job description.
EXAMPLE: If you’re applying for a Data Analyst position, Excel is a must-have — but Publisher isn’t, even if you’re really good at it.
Instead of listing every single Microsoft Office product you’re familiar with, list hard skills that are relevant to the job you’re applying for. Use the tool below to find the right ones.
Exaggerating your skills
DON’T: Claim to have a skill that you don’t have and can't quickly learn — this is going to backfire on you as soon as you’re asked to use it.
DO: Realize that the skills listed in the job ad are a wish list. As long as you can do the job, you don’t need to have every single skill on the list.