The role of the administrative assistant is constantly evolving, creating a lot of competition within the industry. Some employers receive hundreds of applications for each opening, making it difficult to get a job if you can't distinguish yourself from other candidates. Microsoft certification is touted as a way to enhance your resume, but there are some things you should know before you spend time studying for computer certification.
As an administrative assistant, you should pursue the Microsoft certification that makes the most sense in your industry. As of March 2015, there are three levels of Microsoft certification for the MS Office suite: Microsoft Office Specialist, Microsoft Office Specialist Expert and Microsoft Office Specialist Master. The MOS certification is ideal if you need to demonstrate skill in using the basic applications included in Microsoft Office. The MOS Expert certification gives you an opportunity to demonstrate advanced skills in either Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel. Obtaining the MOS Master certification shows you have advanced skills in Word, Excel and a Microsoft Office program of your choice.
Microsoft certification might not make sense for you if you only use MS Office to create documents or prepare basic PowerPoint presentations. If you need to demonstrate advanced skills, such as creating pivot tables or working with relational databases, then obtaining a Microsoft certification can help you do so. Fortunately, you don't have to take a test on every Microsoft program to obtain a certification. You can get certified in Word or Outlook without having to take exams on Excel, Access or PowerPoint.
Before doing the work required to obtain a Microsoft certification, check with leaders in your industry to find out if such a certification will really enhance your resume. Some employers place more importance on certifications than experience, while others prefer to hire experienced applicants who do not have specialized certifications. If employers in your industry value experience more than they value professional certifications, getting a Microsoft certification might not be worth your time and money.
Microsoft certification exams are administered in a live simulation environment, so if you decide to pursue certification, prepare accordingly. Taking a test in a simulated environment is very different from taking a paper-and-pencil test with multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blank questions. If you have a test prep center in your area, consider signing up for a practice Microsoft certification test. Taking time to prepare for the test can help you understand what to expect so that test-day jitters don't hurt your score.
Obtaining professional computer certifications is a good way to learn new skills and enhance your resume. Before obtaining a Microsoft certification, however, you should make sure the certification will actually improve your chances of landing a great job or getting a promotion. If employers in your industry seem to place a greater emphasis on experience, then you might be better served by attending professional-development events instead of obtaining a Microsoft certification.
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