Extremely important. In over 20 years of being employed and being around a lot of different offices, here and abroad, one thing that I kept noticing was that PCs were everywhere. From the reception desk, to the security office and to all the different departments within the firm, PCs are a common sight. That was when I realized that Microsoft training was essential, before employment, and even during employment.
As a trainer who provided Microsoft training to students and professionals alike, I always emphasized the need to keep abreast with the improvements on Microsoft Office productivity tools. PCs are definitely here to stay, and where there are PCs, chances are, there are Microsoft applications.
I said earlier that Microsoft training is necessary prior to being employed. Here is why. Apart
from having to be ready to answer the common interview questions, ‘what are your strengths and weaknesses?’, you should be ready to answer the question, ‘how would you rate yourself in regards to being a PowerPoint user, are you a beginner, an intermediate, or an expert user?’ Also, some companies, being PC users, conduct computer skills assessment as part of their hiring process. And guess what, they ask you to navigate around the Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel interfaces. If you lack that Microsoft training, you would not make it, if you did have the training but didn’t do it thoroughly, you could work your way around by the help of the ‘Help’ button. But some companies nowadays are a lot smarter. I remember applying for an office position in Toronto’s financial district. I knew beforehand that there was an Excel proficiency test but I wasn’t worried. What surprised me was that when I came to take the test, the HR coordinator just handed me a pen and paper. So I had to clarify that I came to take the Excel test, and not to write an essay. She then said that their way of assessing an applicant’s Excel proficiency is by asking them to write on a piece of paper the steps needed to satisfy each of the requirements. Example, write down the steps on how you would copy the contents of cells A5 to A12 to cells D7 to D14, or how would you copy the content of a cell without using ‘right-click’, or without using Copy+Paste. So for those of us who learned by trial and error or for those users who made the ‘Help’ button their BFF, there is no way that we can pass this kind of testing. Having been in this kind of situation, I feel obliged to say that if you have to know Microsoft applications, you have to know them by heart.
Equally important as having Microsoft training before employment, is having it during employment. You wouldn’t want to let your colleague down if she asks you to comment on her 3-page Microsoft Word document using the application’s ‘insert comment’ feature and then asks you to print it with your comments being visible. You cannot say no to your supervisor who asks you to help him analyze the data he gathered by requesting you to prepare a pivot table, or if he asks you to make a slide presentation for the next budget meeting. Lastly, you wouldn’t just scratch your head if your boss would as you to set-up his out-of-office reply in Microsoft Outlook.
If we want to make ourselves more competitive in modern time’s corporate world, we have to equip ourselves with effective tools, and one of them is Microsoft training.