Excel is used all over the world by millions of people. It has become the default data analysis and data entry tool for most of the people in the corporate world.

If you work is anything to do with data, there is a good chance you're going to use Excel for it.

Here are five interactive tools in Excel that you can use to take you Excel skills to a whole new level. These would be especially helpful if you create dashboards or have to refresh reports week after week.

Businessman pressing virtual icons
Businessman pressing virtual icons

Drop Down Lists to Select an Item Quickly

If data entry is something that takes hours of your time, creating an Excel drop down list can make your work quick and easy. It creates a list within a cell where you can select an item or a name and it will get filled in the cell automatically.

It is also helpful when you want to get inputs from the user and wants to make the data entry consistent. For example, if you want to get the country of the user, you can have USA in the drop down list. If you don't so this, the user may enter variations of it such as US, the US, United States, and the United States of America.

Check Boxes to Select/Deselect an Option

You can create a check box in Excel to get user inputs. If you're creating a form and you want the user to select one or more than one option, then you can use check boxes.

For example, if you the HR and want to track the training your team and taken, you can create a form in Excel and ask your team to check the boxes for all the training they have taken.

Alternatively, you can also use checkboxes in creating dashboards in Excel.

Excel allows you to link a checkbox to a cell in the worksheet. When you check the checkbox, it will return TRUE, else it will return FALSE.

You can use this cell linking feature to update the dashboard. For example, if you want the data for 2016, then select 2016. But if you want the data for 2017, then you uncheck 2016 and check 2017.

Scroll Bars to make Interactive Reports

A scroll bar allows you to save some space on the worksheet and still allow the user to go through the data set.

You can also use the scroll bar to change the values of a cell within the specified range. For example, if you have a calendar, you can easily scroll through the months using the scroll bar. So when you click on the scroll bar, the value in the cell updates and changes the month in the calendar.

Using a scroll bar effectively would require you to be more proficient with Excel formulas. While the scroll bar only changes the value in the cell, it is how you use it that can make your dashboard, reports truly dynamic.

If you often use a combination of these interactive tools (let's say in creating an automated report or project tracking, it's a good practice to spend some time and create a reusable Excel Template. It will save you time and effort in future.

Everyone wants to climb up a few rungs of the career ladder and earn a bit more money. However, it can be difficult to know what exactly employers are looking for in order to land you that highly paid job of your dreams.

This article will help you to build your resume properly, and advertise all of the right skills so that you are much more employable for these higher paid jobs.

Keep reading, and find out more about what employers are looking for when it comes to the higher end of the career ladder.

1. Communication

Communication is one of the most important skills that employers are looking for, as communication is used in all areas of a workplace.

In a higher paid job you will need to be able to communicate with your peers, with those that you manage, and with those above you. Proper communication ensures that each and every part of the business is running smoothly and that any issues are approached and solved in an appropriate manner.

Clear communication would include face to face interaction, email communication, as well as telephonic conversations.

It's an important skill that allow for a much smoother running workplace in the long run, which employers really appreciate.

2. Analytics

We live our lives on the internet and on our phones, and produce more data than you can shake a stick at.

This can leave businesses struggling to cope with and analyse the vast amount of data they’re left with. If you have a head for understanding complicated data, then you can expect to earn more and get higher paid jobs, as analytical skills are useful in all areas of business.

You must have heard the buzz words such as Big Data or Data Scientists.

As an analytics expert or data scientist, you are supposed to track, build, and analyse data.  It is a valuable skill in many areas of a company, and data specialists are highly sought after.

You can train yourself in tools such as Excel, R, or SPSS and that can skyrocket your value for an employer.

You can get free Online Excel Training from here.

3. Presentation

Presentation skills are one of the most important skills that employers are looking for, as presentation skills show confidence and a comfortability of public speaking.

Presentation skills mean that you can present to clients and potential clients in a way that will convince them to work with the business, but you can also hold yourself in a respectful manner, and this is highly revered by potential employers who want to bring in more business.

PowerPoint is the most commonly used tool for creating visually appealing presentations and if you are a pro in it, then it adds to your skill set.

4. Project Management

Project management skills allow you to show that you can take on larger projects, plan them, and manage your time properly in order to get the job finished in time, and finished to a high standard.

Project management opens up doors to a huge range of managerial roles, as it shows employers your ability to organise and manage yourself in order to fulfil the requirements of a project properly to satisfy clients and bosses.

5. Technical Skills

If you can get your head around new technology then you have a major advantage over a lot of people who are competing for the job that you want.

Based on what I have been hearing from my tech friends, any one with a functional knowledge of Node JS and React are in high demand.

Your employer will value technical skills that are applicable to the job, but will also favour those who can grow and develop with new technology as it emerges.

This gives the businesses an edge on the competition if they can get their business onto the newest technology as fast as possible, so make sure to mention any technological skills or qualifications that you possess to really impress potential employers. One good thing about technical skills is their diversity so as long as your prospective employer can spot any such skills in you, the job you are interviewing for will be as good as yours.

6. Tactical Thinking

One of the most sought after skills that employers are looking for is the ability to think strategically, and those who think about tactics and strategy when they take on and plan a task.

Tactical thinkers are much more likely to land the higher and more managerial roles, which are typically higher paid, as they are much more capable of taking control of a team of people and getting the job done properly.

Any examples of tactical planning should be used on your CV, as they are guaranteed to impress.

7. Multitasking

Multitasking is another ability that is held in very high esteem by any potential employer, especially for bigger and higher paid jobs.

These jobs typically have a lot of responsibilities attached to them, and if you want to succeed you need to be able to do several things at once and keep on top of it all.

If you can show employers that you have had to organise several jobs at the same time then you are much more likely to gain the higher job roles.

8. Negotiation

Higher paid jobs normally come with responsibilities of negotiating and forming some kind of contract or basis of work with other companies. Skilled negotiators are more successful at these types of jobs because they can focus on the company’s interests, whilst making the partner company feel as though they are also receiving everything that they want.

9. Forecasting

Although this skill is slightly more specific, it is still highly valuable in many areas of the workplace. The ability to look at management insights and pair this with historical data in order to develop a business outlook is massively important, as it helps businesses to create estimates and plans for the future. If you have this kind of ability and analytical mind, make sure you advertise this to potential employers.

10. Teaching and Mentoring

Companies love people who can teach and transfer their skills to other members of the work team.

If you can teach others about the skills that you possess then you are much more valuable to a potential employer, as employers love to develop their workforce in order to create a more productive team of staff by using their own workforce, rather than external companies to teach new skills.

The current job market is constantly changing, and it is never easy to know what exactly employers are looking for in order to tick all of the boxes that potential employers are looking for. We hope that this list has helped you to better understand the key areas that employers are looking for a candidate to fill, as this will make it much more likely for you to win the job of your dreams.

So you are looking for a job.

You'll need a resume.

This is a formal document containing a summary of your qualifications - education and work experience - that are relevant for the job you want. The goal of this resume, also known as curriculum vitae or CV, is to get you through the door and to a job interview.

This is a formal document containing a summary of your qualifications - education and work experience - that are relevant for the job you want. The goal of the resume, also known as curriculum vitae or CV, is to get you through the door and to a job interview.

The resume is used by a potential employer to make the first screening of candidates for a job. Because of this, you want your resume to present your qualifications accurately and be eye catching and well-written.

Often, an employer will receive hundreds of resumes for one job opening. You need to hit a home run with your resume. It needs to make that all important great first impression so you will be the one that is picked in the end.

Maybe you are stuck and unsure how best to format your resume. Maybe you aren't sure what to include. You can get sample resumes for just about any job opening online. Download a bunch of specific examples you can then use to fine-tune your own resume. You'll have a better chance of getting that job you want if your resume is tailored properly to the position.

There are even sites that help you format your resume to make it more eye-catching and attractive, like studentpress.org. You can also go to sites like eresumes.com to download free samples and formats for a different type of positions.

Most employers will ask you to submit an e-resume or electronic resume. This is done online or more frequently via email. Resumes are then scanned electronically for keywords. It's crucial for your resume to emphasize the appropriate keywords for the position you are seeking.

The scanner is programmed to look for specific words. If your resume has these words, you have a better chance to be selected. How to get the keywords right? Sit down and list out your goals, skills for the job you want, and how these goals and skills might be described. Put your resume into the appropriate format and include these keywords when you compose the various descriptive passages.

Your first step in landing your dream job is to create the best resume you can. It's important that you not skimp on this step. You never get a second chance at a first impression.

1. Use the appropriate format - There are two major formats used in resumes. These are chronological and functional.

For applications within a field where you have relevant work experience, it is best to use the chronological format as this allows you to showcase your work history.

The functional format is best used when you are looking at moving into a different field of work as it enables you to focus on your strengths and the skills that you are able to take with you, rather than limiting you to a particular area.

2. Be specific with your details - Many people begin their resume with statements that are too general, such as "sold used vehicles" or "negotiated claims settlements".

When you provide actual details it will improve your resume: for example, "Within the first 12 weeks of employment I was successful in selling 20 motor vehicles" or "Successful in increasing overall customer satisfaction by 25% through negotiations in claim settlements."

3. Accuracy is vital - Avoid the temptation to stretch the truth in order to make a good impression. Your claims must use accurate numbers: you cannot build a successful career using false claims.

For example, a lot of people mention expertise in common tools such as Excel, PowerPoint, Word, Windows, etc. However, when asked about these, they falter.

4. Be Precise - Take the time to proofread your resume.

Errors in punctuation, spelling, and grammar indicate that you are careless and will result in rejections. It is essential that you have a well-crafted resume. If you have any doubts, ask another person to check it for you: quite often they will find something that you may have overlooked.

5. Brevity is Important - Take care that your resume is not verbose. Make sure that every word is important - it is far too easy to see that a resume that uses superfluous language is lacking in substance.

While these are the things you need to take care of while creating a resume, here are some additional tips to make sure you get a cracking resume:

  • Make sure there are no blank pages. Sometimes, these might creep in at the end. Make sure to delete these pages.
  • Check your resume for misspelled word. Nothing ruins the resume faster than those pesky errors. Run a quick spell check in MS Word (or wherever you are creating the resume).
  • Keep the formatting and fonts consistent. Let NOT the inconsistency reflect on your character 😉
  • Check for double spaces. These look really bad when the resume is printed.

Here are some fantastic resume tips that will help you craft the perfect one.

Excel is a lot more than a data entry tool. There are so many features and functionalities that make it a very competent business intelligence tool.

One thing that makes Excel stand out is its wide variety of Excel functions (while I must admit I am pretty impressed with what Google Sheets has to offer in terms of functions).

There are close to 450 functions in Excel and there seems to be one for everything.

Here are my favorite five that would help anyone working with data in Excel.

#1 IF Function

If is a basic formula that checks for a condition and returns a specified value when it’s met. For example, suppose you have a long list of numbers and you have to check whether it is greater than 50 or not.

You can easily do this using the IF function. Here is the syntax:

=IF(A1>50, “Yes”, “No”)

Here A1 has the value and the function checks whether the value is greater than 50 or not. If it is, then it returns Yes, else it returns No.

The power of IF function lies in the fact that you can use multiple IF functions within the IF function itself. This is called nested IFs.

#2 VLOOKUP Function

VLOOKUP function is highly popular Excel function that helps you look through an entire column and fetch the matching value from the specified column.

The V in the VLOOKUP stands for vertical as it goes down the vertical column and looks for the specified value. There is also the HLOOKUP function, but VLOOKUP is the one you should focus on, to begin with.

Vlookup function is commonly used when you have a list of items and you want to scan that list and find a particular item. Once you have found the item, it will return a corresponding value in the same row.

#3 SUMIF Function

There is a basic SUM function in Excel that would simply add all the numbers in the specified range. SUMIF takes it a step further allows the user to add the values based on a certain condition.

For example, if you want to add all the sales value for a sales rep named Paul, then you can do that by specifying it as the condition.

#4 MIN/MAX Functions

MIN/MAX functions – as the name suggests – would find the maximum or the minimum value from a given range. These are really helpful when you want to find out the outliers in your data set.

#5 COUNTIF Function

COUNTIF is similar to SUMIF. It counts the values in a given range when the specified condition is met. For example, if I want to find out how many times did Paul made a sale, I can specify the condition to be Paul and then count the total number of occurrences.

These are my top five Excel functions. It’s something that I use on a daily basis. This is no way enough to get the work done and sooner or later you will have to learn some other awesome functions as well, however, this should be a good starting point if you’re a beginner in Excel.

Preparing for an interview? Check out some common Excel question interviewers ask.

It will take a certain set of skill in order for you to create an effective and efficient executive dashboard for your organization. More often than not, most people make certain mistakes that hinder the dashboard from being the optimized tool that it should be.

Here are seven of the most common mistakes that people knowingly and unknowingly commit when undertaking this kind of task.

Make sure that you do everything that you can to avoid these missteps, to ensure that you and your colleagues will be able to use dashboard as effectively as possible.

common-mistakes-executive-dashboardImage Source: Forbes

1. Choosing the Wrong Metrics

Most of the time, those who are tasked to create executive dashboard for their organizations make the mistake of including all metrics that are set by the company.

While it is imperative that you consistently check your standing vis-à-vis your business goals, you have to make sure that only the relevant metrics appear on the board. Make sure that you include only the valuable metrics by choosing those that are directly aligned with your core objectives and the efforts that individual executives make towards achieving them.

2. Overloading the Wire-frame with Too Much Formatting Guidelines

Designers often make the mistake of thinking that colorful prototypes are what the end users want. This cannot be farther from the truth.

The creative dashboard should be kept as simple as possible. If you are to use colors, you have to make sure that it has something to do with signifying points for contrast among the elements on the dashboard.

Function is the primary concern here, so focus on detailing the requirements of the organizational tasks at hand.

3. Sweeping Interactivity Under the Rug

The dashboard has to include functionalities that will empower the users to customize their views depending on the kinds of information that they need at a certain moment.

This is why you need to make the board as interactive as possible. Ensure that you include the necessary details and functions that will help the users gather relevant information with just a few clicks.

4. Failing to Add Provisions for Data Context

Yes, executives are mainly inclined towards using numeric data to create decisions and to plot out their next steps; but this does not mean that number exist in a void.

The dashboard is, after all, a tool for tactical analysis. For this reason, you need to ensure that you include a provision that your clients may use to add and acquire the context surrounding the figures.

To be on the safe side, so a preliminary interview and ask the organization what their benchmarks are for evaluating the numbers. This will help you ensure that you produce a design that will include features for proper analysis.

5. Not using the Organization’s Business Plan as the Foundation

It is the executives’ main task to create a business plan that will propel the organization forward.

As a designer, it is your task to ensure that you produce an executive dashboard that will help them achieve what they plan to achieve for their business.

Creating a board that fails to take the overall plan into account will render the exercise moot. You have to ensure that you produce a design that will allow users to assess real-time standing versus the plans that they have for their organization.

6. Showing Too Much Alerts

Believe it or not, alerts can be counterproductive at times. Imagine working on something and consistently receiving alerts that divide your attention and divert your focus.

As much as you can, try to keep alerts at the minimum. Have a sit down discussion with your clients and determine which actions require immediate actions; and use your findings to design your alert mechanisms.

7. Ignoring User Feedback

The ultimate test of your design lies on how user-friendly it is. This is why you should do some beta tests and make the necessary adjustments based on your findings.

Feedback from people who are within organization will help you optimize your design. By taking their opinions into account, you will surely be able to create an executive dashboard that people in the organization will be delighted to use.

Keep these basics in mind and your executive dashboard would serve it's purpose well.

Excel is the most popular spreadsheet tool in the world. Hundreds of millions of people use it to perform several functions.

Most offices hence rely on the application for many day-to-day tasks. Consequently, every job nowadays requires you to have functional knowledge of Excel. Anytime you are applying for any job that needs any form of tracking, data analysis or calculations; chances are you will be required to have, at least, a basic knowledge of MS Excel.

Anytime you are applying for any job that needs any form of tracking, data analysis or calculations; chances are you will be required to have, at least, a basic knowledge of MS Excel.


If you are one of those who mentions Excel as one of your area of expertise, be ready to face some hard question about it in the interview. I have personally seen people getting decimated when asked about Excel, just because they mentioned in their resume.

So let me give you 7 common Excel questions interviewers ask and the responses that should keep you in the safe zone.

1. What do you know about Excel Pivot table?

Knowing how to use Pivot tables in Excel is a big deal. It's a super powerful feature that allows a user to summarize huge data sets in a matter of seconds.

It is also very simple to use. I suggest you read up on it and be ready with a couple of good examples. You can say that Pivot Tables can be used to quickly summarize large transactional data sets and  answer specific questions.

For example, if you have zone wise sales data, you can quickly find out which sales rep had the highest profit margin in the West Zone, or which product sales were highest in the North zone.

2. Do you know how to use VLOOKUP function?

VLOOKUP function is the most popular function in Excel and if there is a chance you will be asked about formulas, knowing VLOOKUP would be the smart thing to do.

Again, a yes or no answer may not be satisfactory here. Show that you really understand what this functions does.

Read up on it and be ready with a couple of examples where you can show the power of this function.

3. Explain some data formats in MS Excel

The most common data formats are currency, numbers, and dates.

The currency format is a specialized number presentation that stores data in a particular currency form.

Number format stores info as a number, and can include decimal values as well as separators for big numbers exceeding 999.

Date format, on the other hand, allows you to store data as dates for purposes of calculations and formulas.

4. Do you know how to make dashboards in Excel?

Dashboards track metrics, KPIs, among other data points in a single visual, central place. If you're asked about dashboards, talk about the interactive tools such as scroll bars, check boxes, charts, radio buttons, etc.

Making a dashboard could be a complex process in Excel. Let the interviewer know that you understand the process, the formulas that help connect various data points and interactive tools to make it dynamic for the end user.

5. What is the Ribbon as used in MS Excel?

A Ribbon refers to a section that runs along the top of the app containing toolbars and menu items available in the Excel.

It has various tabs that in turn include groups of commands to be used in the application.

6. How can you use MS Excel to analyze a group of data?

MS Excel allows us to create various types of charts, such as column and line charts, or even adding a small graph.

You can create PivotTable, insert totals quickly, apply table styles or even use conditional formatting to come up with useful features of the data I am analyzing.

For instance, I can quickly label all values less than a particular value, say average, in my data by use of “If Condition.” This feature enables me to perform analysis of information in the shortest time possible.

Now Excel is huge and the interviewer and the interviewer can grill you for hours in this. But if you have the basics in place, you will do great.