20 Advanced Excel Skills for the Workplace (With Examples)
Updated 7 February 2023
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Demonstrating a basic understanding of Excel functions is a requirement for many entry-level positions. To progress in the workplace and apply for higher-level roles, consider learning advanced-level Excel skills. In addition to strengthening your resume, mastering these skills can help you become more efficient and productive on a day-to-day basis. In this article, we will look at the top 20 advanced Excel skills that are beneficial for you to master.
What is considered advanced-level Excel skills?
Advanced-level Excel skills are skills that enable you to perform complex calculations, simulations, graphing, data visualisation and automation. These skills allow you to access and process huge volumes of data and effectively use them to perform a range of business tasks like inventory management, estimation and costing. What Excel skills you need often vary depending on your specific job role, industry and department.
These are the 3 tiers of Excel skills that are useful in the workplace:
Basic Excel skills: These skills include the usage of cell references, ranges, styles and keyboard shortcuts. Accessing different viewing options like zoom and performing formatting tasks for spreadsheets also come under this category.
Intermediate Excel skills: These skills are used for handling functions and formulas like SUMPRODUCT, AVERAGE and SUM. The ability to generate and use charts and graphs may also come under this category of Excel skills.
Advanced Excel skills: These skills signify an expert working knowledge of complex tasks like VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) programming, data simulation, analytics and advanced formula usage.
Related: What Are Excel Skills? (Definition And Examples)
What jobs can you do with advanced excel skills?
You may have to master advanced Excel skills to successfully perform in job roles like:
Related: Excel Interview Questions (With Example Answers)
Top 20 advanced Excel skills
These are some of the most useful Excel skills that are relevant in a variety of industries and job roles:
1. Data consolidation
Excel has a built-in data consolidation feature that lets you combine volumes of data, provided they are organised in a similar manner. This feature is useful for streamlining information and appending lists. For example, a supermarket may want to periodically combine a list of newly procured products with a list of existing products and might use the consolidation feature to combine these two lists.
2. Data selection
Excel provides a variety of data selection tools and mechanisms like filters and PivotTables. These selection tools will allow you to selectively display portions of the spreadsheet that you want to work with. Data selection reduces the chances of errors and helps avoid distraction while working with large data volumes. For example, a retail store owner may want to isolate and view all the products in his store that are sold above a particular price point.
3. Quality control
If you want to verify data efficiently, you may consider using Excel's quality control tools, similar to the data validation or validity function. For example, you can create a drop-down list for particular rows or columns, allowing users to select from one of the options provided in the list. This reduces the chance of spelling errors and makes it easy to isolate data. When you are working with large volumes of data, this can help you save a significant amount of time.
Related: What Is Quality Control? A Complete Guide
4. Visual representations
Visualising data makes it easier for you or others to comprehend information at a glance. Excel offers a variety of data visualisation tools that help you transform selected volumes of data into visual graphics and charts. This is useful for making presentations and sharing your work with a third party. For example, if you are a business owner and want to compare your profits over a period of 10 years, it might be helpful to visualise the information as a bar graph to generate useful takeaways.
Related: Types of Graphs and Charts
5. Power Query
Power Query is a tool that allows users to connect to data outside of Excel and clean and manipulate the data. Learning how to use this tool can help you incorporate data from different sources into Excel and use other Excel tools to work with it. Power Query is advanced due to the amount of data it allows users to analyse. It also requires users to understand data sources outside of Excel.
6. Conditional formatting
Conditional formatting involves notating data—with highlighting or background colour—that meet specific, defined criteria. For instance, users may highlight negative numbers or numbers over a certain threshold. This tool includes cell-based formatting and condition-based formatting.
7. Advanced charting
Excel's charting tools include vast formatting and function options. Advanced users have in-depth knowledge of these tools, such as in-cell charts, interactive charts and conditional formatting charts.
PivotTables extract relevant data from a larger sheet or workbook into a smaller table. You can also reorganise the data. This skill helps users work with a more manageable data table organised in a more thoughtful way for the immediate task, making work quicker and more efficient.
9. Flash Fill
Users can manipulate data on a single row, and the Flash Fill tool creates similar manipulations on the remaining data. This skill saves users time on repetitive tasks, especially when working with large data sets. For example, you may want to change a list of names to include "Dr" in front of each name. Using the Flash Fill tool allows you to change the first name, and the program automatically adds "Dr" to all the remaining names.
Filters show selected data for users to work with while hiding the rest of the sheet. Advanced users can use multiple filters to extract highly specific data, such as extracting employees who have hiring dates in May and work in the legal department.
In Excel, you can use the COUNTIF function to determine how many times a certain word or phrase appears in a selected data set, such as a specific department name or other identifying feature. Advanced users incorporate this function frequently in place of manually counting relevant information.
Sparklines display a visual representation of data points via lines or columns inside a single cell. This advanced skill allows users to show trends in a small selection of data within a larger workbook.
13. Data validation
Data validation tools are used primarily to identify errors in data and make the necessary corrections. Data validation functions include:
Autocorrection and spell-check
Duplicate entry indication
Drop-down menu and list integration
14. Data manipulation
Data manipulation is widely used to generate uniformity through data synthesis. Excel provides several formulas that enable you to make alterations in data sets. Common applications of data manipulation include:
Identifying and eliminating duplicates in data sets
Merging two data sets or lists into one
Consolidating multiple columns
Extracting data into multiple columns
Excel users can create a macro in the VBA (Visual Basic Application) to automate a repetitive task. This skill involves working with Excel programming features to record certain keystrokes that make up a macro. Rather than re-entering or manipulating the same information, users can launch the macro to repeat the same function throughout the sheet or workbook.
VLOOKUP or vertical lookup allows you to reference a value and retrieve data from specific columns in the spreadsheet. VLOOKUP functions like a merger tool that allows you to collate multiple data sets into one. For example, a retail store owner may enter the details of all sales in a spreadsheet. If they want to look up the overall sold quantities of specific products, they may use the VLOOKUP tool.
The INDEX function allows you to specify the location of a cell in a list and returns the value that the cell holds.
The MATCH function complements the INDEX function by returning the position of any cell in a list, by row and column. These two functions when used together (commonly referred to as the INDEX MATCH function) help users perform advanced look-ups in a spreadsheet.
19. Data simulations
Simulations are mathematical models that allow you to visualise the characteristics and properties of any system. Based on a given set of data, Excel allows you to simulate data to make informed speculations and inferences. For example, a sales executive may use simulations in Excel to generate projected sales patterns for a future time period.
Errors in Excel can stop calculations and other functions from working and may return values like "#####", "#DIV/0!", "#VALUE#" or "#VALUE!". To avoid this, you may consider using the IFERROR function.
How can I improve my advanced Excel skills?
There are many sources available to help you gain a more in-depth understanding of complex Excel features. Here are a few steps you can take to improve your Excel skills:
Use free online resources and video tutorials for skills that do not require complex formulae.
Sign up for an online course or workshop to learn at your pace.
Take an in-person course to get real-time instructions and feedback.
Hire a tutor who can work around your schedule.
Practise excel skills outside the workplace.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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