Some musings on Excel skills recruitment. Inspired by a 2017 thread on EuSprIG list started by Simon Hurst, and the work of ‘Calc Intellingence‘ research (Cambridge University).

When recruiting accounting staff how do employers differentiate?

Is there any research along these lines?

Q1. Are Excel skills necessary for accounting staff?

  • Very
  • Somewhat necessary
  • Not necessary

Q1. How would you differentiate Excel skills in a Job Description?

This is an open question. The answers could be Basic, Intermediate, Advanced (to macro level).

Q2. Which of these Excel features are important? (Mark as ‘Essential’, ‘Nice to have’, ‘Not necessary’.

  • Formulas (in general)
  • Conditional Format
  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • PivotTables
  • PowerPivot
  • PowerQuery (Get and Transform)
  • VBA
  • Other (please specify)

Q3. Which of these are important aspects in spreadsheets your staff create?

  • Easy to understand
  • Documentation
  • Less manual work
  • Less maintenance
  • Future-proof
  • Scalable
  • Other (please specify)

Q4. How does your preferred measure of Excel skills achieve your preferred differentiation?

  • It doesn’t
  • It does, like this (please explain briefly)

Q5. How would you change a Job Description to align with your measure of preferred Excel skills?

  • I wouldn’t because it already does
  • I would, like this (please specify)


The point of the exercise is to examine ‘do employers know what they’re looking for?’

And, given some facts about spreadsheets currently in use or how they’re used (in reality) will employers modify, or refine, their perception of what Excel skills are desirable, or even essential?

Related References

Hiran de Silva

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