MS Office On a Resume

When was the last time you had “MS Office” listed in the skills section of your resume?

Somehow I made it this far into 2017 without realizing (or possibly actively trying to avoid realizing) I’d been out of college for 20 years. At first I marveled at how long I’d been away from my comfortable institutional walls, my friends, my memories. I thought back fondly of the horrible music that I held so dear, the…interesting fashion choices, and how I spent the first half of my first year of work biking to my job as a Mac tech because I had no money.

But then I had one of those weird moments the other day, where something you’re doing recalls a private internal brain-space conversation from some other time, and weird spooky things happen inside your head, and I remembered how vitally important it was in 1997 to list “MS Office” on your resume.

I’d forgotten there was a time when hiring managers sought that out. I’d forgotten there was a time when it was expected that you would state that as a pretense for short-cutting the hiring lines. Yes: I know computers and how to use them.

And it wasn’t just a short run, either. I remember seeing it on resumes for years, and I think I probably didn’t take it off my own resume until the mid-aughts, when it just seemed gauche to include such a “basic” skill.

But what is basic about Microsoft Office? Can you, right now, without thinking about the process, produce a meaningful pivot table, or tell me what a vLookup does? I can’t, and I consider myself pretty “advanced”. In Word, do you know how to select all the text within an arbitrary quadrilateral? What about macros? Conversation view in Outlook? Present a whiteboard in Skype for Business?

The point is that Office is a rich and multi-faceted toolset that can be used in myriad different ways to accomplish the same functionality. But at some point we seem to have forgotten that. At some point, Office transitioned from institutional knowledge to cultural knowledge. Or at least the expectation did.

What’s the difference? How did you learn to pump gas? If you’re anywhere outside of New Jersey, you probably learned from your parents, in much the same way you learned how to use a spoon or throw a ball. But go get gas in New Jersey with no prior experience in that state, and you’ll learn the difference instantly: you cannot pump your own gas there, and there are no signs to tell you that. How are you to know? It’s just expected. New Jersey is an institution within a culture, and in that institution, it is done differently.

When we conduct our Customer Immersion Experiences, a question that always comes up is: what was the approximate investment your company made in end-user training last year? Predictably, the answer is almost always 0. There may be some training related to line-of-business applications, but rarely do we hear that actual dollars have been spent on training users in the Microsoft stack.

Companies appear to have decided that the modern workforce simply understands how it all works. Which makes it much more interesting when we ask what the single biggest impediment is to modernization. Usually, it’s “lack of user training”. I hear that one couched in different phraseology all the time: users are set in their ways; resistant to change; it’s the way we’ve always done it.

Unlike pumping gas, though, the intricacies of using Microsoft Office solutions have changed pretty substantially over time. New communication streams, new storage locations, new data controls, new new new! And while Microsoft has been very good about ensuring legacy functionality, sometimes it takes actual effort to do things the “old” way. Enough effort that the man-hours lost to productivity can be easily offset by updated training.

How, for example, do you schedule a meeting to discuss the content of an email discussion? We ask this specific question in our CIE’s, and the steps involved are fundamentally the same:

  1. Go to the calendar page and click on “new meeting”

  2. Select the people you want to attend

  3. Go to the Scheduling Assistant tab and hunt for a good common time

  4. Select a room

  5. Sometimes repeat step 3 for the room’s availability

  6. Sometimes repeat steps 4 and 5 if the room is generally not available

  7. Tie the meeting to whatever conferencing solution is available

  8. Add a brief explanation of why you want to meet, or copy the email contents into the invite

  9. Send the request

  10. Bicker with an external recipient for the next 3 days about the selected time

But have you ever just right-clicked the conversation and dragged it to the calendar icon? Or looked through the “respond” options in the menu bar? Ever notice “Reply with meeting” (circled below)?

What about the room picker and ‘suggested times’ on the right-hand column? All of these things combine to drop the number of steps from 9 (plus or minus any loops) to:

  1. Click “reply with meeting”

  2. Look for a room in the room picker

  3. Pick a time from “suggested times”

  4. Add conferencing

  5. Hit send

And if a recipient is outside your organization, you can even send a proposed block of times, and when they pick one, Exchange Online will automatically schedule the meeting. Best of all, the entire email thread is automatically included, along with every participant in the conversation.

Simple changes like that can have a big overall impact on enabling productivity, and with very little training energy.

We’ve demonstrated how engaging the CIE format is for participants, and we’re working with businesses throughout the region to take immersive self-discovery training to the masses. After your users sit through a session, they might be excited to put MS Office back on their resumes.