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How to Spot An Office Expert

January 1, 1999
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Related Topics: Basic Skills Training, Training Technology, Featured Article
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One year from now, corporations around the worldwill have filled over a million computer-related positions. Over two-thirds of these jobswill require proficiency at desktop productivity tools such as those found in theMicrosoft® Office suite of applications. The daunting responsibility of finding, andverifying the skills of these new hires will rest squarely on the shoulders of thecorporate hiring manager.

As a hiring manager,you may look through hundreds of resumes to find a qualified candidate. And you mightinterview nearly as many to verify that the information on the resume is accurate. Thisexhausting responsibility of seeking out and hiring employees usually involves atremendous amount of guesswork. What makes this job so difficult is that nearly everyoneentering the workforce today claims some form of computer proficiency. To determine therelevancy of each resume, you must rely on your own interpretation of the skills describedby the candidate. And once a candidate is selected, you can only hope your new employeewill actually be as productive at the desktop as they claim. Often the problem isn’tabout finding candidates for the job, it’s validating their claims of proficiency atthe skills needed to perform the job effectively.

So how do you spot an office expert before you make the commitment tospend valuable resources? The Microsoft Office UserSpecialist (MOUS) program. MOUS is a validation program that verifies whether anemployee or service provider has the skills to get the job done efficiently andeffectively. In a white paperregarding the MOUS prgoram, Elliott Masie, President of The MASIE Center has said,"The new Microsoft Office User Specialist program is an important evolutionary stepin the world’s adoption of computers in the workplace. As the computer becomes anaccepted and integrated tool of every office, the focus is shifting to workforce technicalcompetency." Validation of workforce competency is what the MOUS program is allabout.

Using the MOUS program as a standard benchmark for assessing skills willeliminate much of the guesswork and risk of hiring new employees for jobs that requireproficiency at the desktop. "If a candidate has a certificate from Microsoft, thatcertainly makes our job as hiring managers a lot easier," says John B. Holdeman ofCrowe, Chizek and Company. Lamont Long, IT director and Mr. Holdeman’s associate,confirms this by stating, "MOUS certification gives us a way to find out who hasattained a certain level of competence without having to guess."

As a hiring manager, you know candidates often exaggerate theircredentials to get a position. The potential for these candidates to drain valuableresources is a critical concern in many corporations. This costly workplace scenariohappens every day: an employee stuck on a computing problem will typically turn to afellow employee to seek an answer. As more employees are included in the discussion, theproductivity of an entire workgroup can be affected. According to Erica V. Gruskin ofGreenberg Traurig, "When a hired employee claims to have the skills necessary for thetask, but really doesn’t, it slows down everyone else. MOUS certification sets abenchmark to alleviate that problem."

Proven employee proficiency can mean more than taking the guesswork out ofthe hiring process, it can mean cost savings too. Take for instance the situation thatMarty Kelem of Spectratek found himself in: "Having someone who says they can do aparticular program only to find out later they couldn’t is a common problem. Oneindividual corrupted data which resulted in downtime for the company and money lost."He goes on to explain, "It was disheartening, as well as costly, to find out laterthat someone did not possess all the skills they stated on their resume."

MOUS certification can also help you ensure that training dollars arecoming back to the company in the form of qualified personnel with standards-based,meaningful credentials. MOUS certification can be adopted into the corporate trainingpractice to ensure that employees across a global organization have a common understandingof Microsoft® Office products, which can immediately translate into increasedproductivity and improved communications. A corporation can even become an Authorized Testing Center for the MOUSprogram to administer internal training on-site, as needed. Antony Martin at AFMLighting Ltd. recognizes this need for his organization when he states, "As we expandthe company globally, I need to employ people with a common level of understanding tohandle the global demands. A benchmark certification will serve as a standard in thatglobal market."

A Simple Solution
Currently 90% of the Fortune 500 companies are using Microsoft Office. If your corporationis among this majority, the MOUS program will help you identify the skilled employees youwant working for you. It’s fast becoming the single most effective way to recognizeknowledgeable, productive employees by ensuring they possess the critical skills neededusing the world’s most popular business suite—Microsoft Office. How? Throughcertification. individuals take a complete hands-on exam to validate their skills in anyone of the Microsoft Office applications including Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint® and Microsoft Access. Once they pass the exam,they receive a certificate. This becomes the proof that hiring managers can look for wheninterviewing new employees, or assessing the level of learning achieved in corporate training programs. Downloadable practice exams, recently made availableon www.mous.net, now show users what the actual examsare like, by giving them a "look and feel" of the exam interface.

This benchmark can raise the level of value that your employees are addingto your organization. "If you can hire a qualified person from day one, you knowyou’re getting a good return on your investment because that person has the skill setto be able to up and run for the company," explains Paul Butler of AFM Lighting Ltd.

When MOUS certification is used to evaluate new hires, the guesswork istaken out of the equation. And new employees hit the ground running with immediateresults. Beyond providing a standard measure for hiring, MOUS certification serves as anassessment tool for employees who are already in the workplace. A recent Microsoft®survey found that an amazing 70% of the features that customers request for new productimplementation are already built into existing versions of Microsoft Office. This onlyamplifies the concern that many of today’s Microsoft Office users are using less than30% of its productivity features. MOUS certification helps employees unlock the potentialof Microsoft Office applications by ensuring that there is a complete understanding of thecapabilities of the product.

Lamont Long understands the benefit of having employees that are MOUScertified. He reports, "When an employee becomes certified in Microsoft Office, webelieve they have gone to a higher level of proficiency and can bring immediate benefit toour firm."

By incorporating MOUS certification into your hiring and assessmentpractices, you can identify valuable, productive individuals with complete certainty. Youwill know who has what it takes to give your corporation a competitive edge. In otherwords, when you spot an office specialist, you’ll know it by their MOUScertification.

Find out more about the MOUS program and how incorporating it into yourcompany’s practices can lead to increased efficiency among your employees by visitingwww.mous.net.

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