There are many important skills you will need to become a CPA. While studying for the CPA Exam is obviously extremely important, do not forget about other essential skills you’ll need to bring to your resume, the interview table, and other networking opportunities such as Meet the Firms or career fairs--such as your competency to utilize Microsoft Excel.
As CPA firms are recognizing the need for this skill in their staff more and more, the CPA Exam is also changing to reflect that. The 2018 CPA Exam is undergoing UX changes on April 1, 2018, which will include replacing the current spreadsheet application with Microsoft Excel. Here are some reasons why you should begin familiarizing yourself with the program now if you haven't already.
In my recent interviews with the CPA firm that I will start at this month, I had a peer interview with employees around my age who went to the same college I did. The interview was more of an open-ended discussion and was a chance for me to ask any questions I had for them. One of the questions that I asked was if they could go back and do things over when they first started at the company, what would they do differently?
The three employees paused for a minute and one responded that she would have taken a basic online Microsoft Excel course before her first day. The other two employees chimed in and stated that is exactly what they would have done differently as well. They told me about their experiences where not having these skills actually slowed their work down in the beginning. They had to look up and remember functions like VLOOKUP, pivot tables, financial formulas/ratios, macros, conditional formatting and much, much more.
I was informed during the meeting that there were very affordable online Excel classes to take to brush up on formulas, data presentation and organization, automation tools, formatting, and navigation. I knew it would be essential for me to brush up on my Excel skills as I have not had a course in it since 2008. My most recent job did not require me to know in-depth Excel knowledge, so my skills have faded dramatically since I was an undergraduate.
The biggest challenge I face currently is budgeting my time to squeeze in an online Excel course along with studying for BEC. I think both are very important and the Excel skills will pay off on my first day at the new job.
Technology has created an evolution in the accounting industry. IT advancements have increased productivity, but CPA firms need employees with the right skillset to keep up. Being a strong Excel user will not only make you stand out as a job candidate, but will allow you to do your job more proficiently and competently.
--Shannon Neumeyer, Guest Blogger for Roger CPA Review