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proof by exhaustion
09-13-2007, 03:20 PM
On my resume, should I list the fact that I have "some" knowledge of C and "some" knowledge of Excel? I have done some programming in C, but nothing major. I also have a bit of familiarity of Excel, but nothing close to what I assume I will eventually need to know. Should I write down that I can use Excel? some Excel? or just not list these things at all? I don't want to exaggerate, but I also don't want to look like I am trying to fill white space with software/programming languages that I am not "fully" capable of using.

When I look at this part of my resume, it makes me a bit uneasy:

Computer Skills
Software: Microsoft Office Word, some Excel, PhStat
Languages: Java, some C

Thanks, as always for the advice.

Alto Reed on a Tenor Sax
09-13-2007, 03:24 PM
Leave them off alltogether.

The Java shows that you at least know some programming, that's all you need to say.

Mentioning "some" Excel will only highlight how much you don't know. "A bit of familiarity" is so close to "no familiarity" that you are better off not mentioning it at all. If you put "some Excel" on your resume, you also run the risk of implying more knowledge than you have, since an actuary's conception of "some Excel" may be a lot different than the average boss's definition of "some Excel."

actexp
09-13-2007, 03:25 PM
delete the word some. You're not claiming to be an expert. People assume that actuarial students will be able to pick up whatever excel skills they'll need anyway. If questioned on it, would say something along lines of have basic knowledge, but of course would expect that I'd pick up whatever I need to when I use it more in a work environment. It shouldn't be an issue. We;'re looking to hire future actuaries, not programmers.

twig93
09-13-2007, 04:26 PM
I consider myself to be an expert in Excel and I put on my resume the big long list of software I know (including Excel) and conclude it with "and significant strength in Excel". I am claiming to be an expert in Excel.

Some people will put Excel on their resume if they use it to manage their Christmas card list. I try to differentiate myself from those types by saying the bit about significant strength. It's probably a lot less relevant now that I've got several years of actuarial experience under my belt as most folks will assume that I'm a decent spreadsheet monkey. But when I was starting out, I think it was more important.

Given that I haven't updated my resume in five years, I might have to rethink how I word it if I find myself looking for another position any time soon, which is doubtful.

IMP
09-13-2007, 04:31 PM
on my resume, i first listed what i knew best and ended what i knew "some of"... Excel, Access, blah blah; limited knowledge of VBA. don't know if it's 'bad' or not to show it this way. i want it known i have exposure to it but that i am not proficient in it (yet)...ie i can read the code and amend existing code for my own needs, but cant create a program from a clean slate. :shrug:

Maine-iac
09-13-2007, 04:45 PM
On the resume, i'd just list the software that you have used to some extent and can reasonably get around in. I wouldn't put anything but a list unless you are exceptionally well versed in a particular software that may be of use, a la Twig and her Excel skills.

In an interview situation, I would differentiate between software that you are "familiar with" versus that you are "proficient in". Don't promise "hit the ground running" proficiency if you don't have it. Usually that kind of proficiency is a bonus if you have it, but all that's expected is enough familiarity that you can work with it and develop the needed proficiency without asking the INCREDIBLY stupid questions. (e.g. "How do I sum a column of numbers?")

proof by exhaustion
09-13-2007, 04:50 PM
Right on. Basically, I know how to use Excel, and I can find functions for the things that I need if they exist, but I dont necessarily know what all of the functions are or what they do. So, I should list it, but clarify in the interview? Thanks for the advice.

Alto Reed on a Tenor Sax
09-13-2007, 04:52 PM
INCREDIBLY stupid questions. (e.g. "How do I sum a column of numbers?")

But how am I supposed to learn unless I ask? I was told that there were no stupid questions.:cry:

ldancer911
09-13-2007, 05:09 PM
What I did on my resume as list software that I was "proficient" in(word) and then just listed other software (sas/excel) as having "experience" in. I think just about anywhere is going to ask how much of the skill you have during interview but I thought that saying I have at least used these was beneficial.

BondGirl
09-13-2007, 05:37 PM
Just list them. They'll ask what level your experience is if they are interested.

Vorian Atreides
09-13-2007, 07:53 PM
. . . INCREDIBLY stupid questions. (e.g. "How do I sum a column of numbers?")

But how am I supposed to learn unless I ask? I was told that there were no stupid questions.:cry:

Summing numbers is a basic function of what Excel was developed for. Listing it on your resume is an indicator that you can use Excel for what it was designed for.

You're right in that you don't learn unless you ask, but every university, college (jr., community, or 4-year) that I've seen offers a course in using basic programs like Word, Outlook, and Excel. I believe that this is what Maine-iac is referring to when she mentions that the above question is an "INCREDIBLY stupid question."

Right on. Basically, I know how to use Excel, and I can find functions for the things that I need if they exist, but I dont necessarily know what all of the functions are or what they do. So, I should list it, but clarify in the interview? Thanks for the advice.

I wouldn't bring your "limitations" up in an interview unless they ask you point-blank what your level of expertise is in the programs. Myself, I had a very basic "working knowledge" of Access--I could create a table and simple select query on that table; but developing more complex queries (and reports and forms) didn't come until I started working (and then I got a few third party manuals to learn this). I listed Access on my resume, but no one asked me questions about it. (No one really asked me questions about Excel apart from what sort of things I've done with it.)

Vorian Atreides
09-13-2007, 07:56 PM
I've found the term "working knowledge" to be useful in describing the ability to use something as it is intended but don't have the expertise to do a lot with it.

I also believe that there's a thread on Outpost somewhere the various levels of expertise is discussed (i.e., what does "expert" really mean).

Elisha
09-13-2007, 08:03 PM
"working knowledge" / "proficiency" = just list it

"expert" = add it for emphasis if you really are. Most people who have worked in the actuarial field for at least two years should be what most people consider and "expert". Some people are more "expert" than others though.

twig93
09-13-2007, 08:17 PM
Yep, use the interview to sell yourself, not point out your weaknesses. If they ask you, be honest, but still don't sell yourself short. You have a basic working knowledge of Excel and look forward to seeing how the new company uses it in their business.

Vorian Atreides
09-13-2007, 10:01 PM
"working knowledge" / "proficiency" = just list it

"expert" = add it for emphasis if you really are. Most people who have worked in the actuarial field for at least two years should be what most people consider and "expert". Some people are more "expert" than others though.
I wouldn't say that time in an actuarial position doesn't guarantee that someone is an "expert" on anything, especially for others within the field. (The exception might be Excel.)

I also make a distinction between "working knowledge" (which I had of Access before working in the Actuarial field) and being "proficient" (which I was not as far as Access in the same time period). Definitely list the latter situation. List the former only if it might pertain to a position you're applying for. (E.g., having "working knowledge" of C programming wouldn't be a good thing to list; if you're good at programming, list that instead of which languages you might be good at.)

proof by exhaustion
09-13-2007, 10:25 PM
Thanks for the advice. I intend to use the term "working knowledge" in the interview(s) if asked. This is all making me feel like a politician. Any other talking points for my interview would be greatly appreciated.

Westley
09-13-2007, 10:28 PM
But how am I supposed to learn unless I ask? I was told that there were no stupid questions.:cry:
There are no stupid questions, just stupid people who ask questions.

Lots of good advice, I agreew with dancer, but overall, not a big issue, you're stressing over nothing. So long as you don't say "world class expert in Excel", you're fine.

Vorian Atreides
09-13-2007, 10:36 PM
Thanks for the advice. I intend to use the term "working knowledge" in the interview(s) if asked. This is all making me feel like a politician. Any other talking points for my interview would be greatly appreciated.
Wait until you start working on filings for a rate change. :-P

proof by exhaustion
09-13-2007, 10:54 PM
There are no stupid questions, just stupid people who ask questions.

Lots of good advice, I agreew with dancer, but overall, not a big issue, you're stressing over nothing. So long as you don't say "world class expert in Excel", you're fine.

I have to say, after reading your other resume advice, that I am a bit relieved that you have responded to tell me that I am stressing over nothing. I will have nightmares about your "discard" pile on a regular basis until I get a position. Thanks!
:toast:

Westley
09-13-2007, 10:57 PM
Don't worry about your software skills, I automatically discard any resume with a psych degree no matter what skills are listed.

Westley
09-13-2007, 10:58 PM
I recently had somebody point out that I should be more careful in my use of sarcasm so let me point out that I was kidding.

proof by exhaustion
09-13-2007, 11:16 PM
I was laughing when I read the first post (20). I stopped when I read 21.

Vorian Atreides
09-14-2007, 02:31 PM
I recently had somebody point out that I should be more careful in my use of sarcasm so let me point out that I was kidding.
I find that a smiley of some sort at the end of sarcasm helps take the edge off. :fof2:

Also, I tend to agree with most of the advice you offer. Places where we tend to diverge in advice relate more around how career changers might enter the field in general (as opposed to recent college graduates). In all events, I do advocate anyone seeking advice to at least consider what you have to say.

SirVLCIV
09-14-2007, 03:22 PM
I like the use of the word 'proficient'.

I'm pretty handy with Excel (about as handy as an actuarial analyst with two years experience should be, IMO), and I'm continually asked by analyst-level coworkers to help out with an array formula or VBA macro here or there. I'm one of three 'go to' guys in the department for new spreadsheet development projects, and one was just promoted.

It might take me 5 minutes to get my bearings before tackling a specific formula or a quick macro record to get started, and I'm not a hotkey specialist, so I would never dream of touching 'expert'. Any other words in between 'specialist' and 'expert' I should consider?

Elisha
09-15-2007, 02:03 AM
I like the use of the word 'proficient'.

I'm pretty handy with Excel (about as handy as an actuarial analyst with two years experience should be, IMO), and I'm continually asked by analyst-level coworkers to help out with an array formula or VBA macro here or there. I'm one of three 'go to' guys in the department for new spreadsheet development projects, and one was just promoted.

It might take me 5 minutes to get my bearings before tackling a specific formula or a quick macro record to get started, and I'm not a hotkey specialist, so I would never dream of touching 'expert'. Any other words in between 'specialist' and 'expert' I should consider?

Dude, you're Expert by most of the business world's standards.

You should say 'Advanced skills in Excel' if not Expert. Even slightly below average actuarial type Excel skills are usually considered Advanced/Expert by most people.