Enhance Your VLOOKUP Skills with ChatGPT: A Guide for HR Professionals

In my last post, I introduced the basics of VLOOKUP in Excel. If you haven’t read it yet, you can check it out here. In this blog post, we’ll explore how ChatGPT, an advanced AI language model developed by OpenAI, can help you enhance your VLOOKUP skills and make the most of this invaluable function. We’ll walk through an example, share general tips and tricks, and demonstrate how this AI tool can support HR professionals in mastering various Excel functions and formulas.

What is ChatGPT?

Example: Finding Employee Email Information

For this example, we’ll revisit the same scenario from the previous blog post, but this time we’ll solve the issue using ChatGPT. You can download the original file again here:

  1. To get started with ChatGPT, visit https://chat.openai.com/. You’ll need to create an account or log in if you already have one.
  1. Once logged in, you’ll be presented with a chat box. Keep in mind that, due to the site’s popularity, you might encounter a message about the site being temporarily unavailable.
  1. The key to getting accurate help from ChatGPT is to be as specific as possible and ask follow-up questions when needed. In our example, we might ask “I have a list of Employee IDs in column A and a list of Employee names in Column B. I have another spreadsheet that has all of the Employee IDs in Column A and the employee email addresses in column E. I want to get the employee email addresses in my first spreadsheet.” Here is what we get:
  1. You can now ask follow-up questions or clarification questions like “what does Sheet2!A:E mean?”
  1. You can also troubleshoot as you will often get errors in your VLOOKUP formulas.

General Tips and Tricks

  • Be persistent: If you are not understanding, keep asking questions. ChatGPT will never get tired of you!
  • Be specific: The more detailed information you provide, the more accurate and helpful the guidance will be.
  • Request step-by-step guidance: If you’re unsure about how to perform a particular task in Excel, ask ChatGPT for a step-by-step walkthrough. This will help you understand the process and apply it to your own work.
  • Use it as a learning tool: ChatGPT can explain various functions and concepts in detail.
  • Ask for alternative methods: Excel often has multiple ways to accomplish the same task. Feel free to ask ChatGPT about alternative methods or functions that can be used to achieve your desired result.
  • Request help with troubleshooting: If you encounter errors or issues while working in Excel, describe the problem to ChatGPT and ask for assistance in troubleshooting or resolving the issue.
  • Learn about best practices: ChatGPT can offer advice on best practices for organizing and structuring your Excel worksheets, using functions efficiently, and maintaining data integrity.
  • Stay curious and explore: ChatGPT is a valuable resource for learning about various Excel functions, features, and techniques. Don’t be afraid to ask the AI about anything you’re curious about or want to learn more about in Excel.


While ChatGPT is an incredibly powerful tool, it is not perfect, and it is important to be aware of its limitations. By being aware of these limitations and using the suggested strategies, users can make the most of ChatGPT’s capabilities for their Excel-related tasks:

  1. Misunderstandings: ChatGPT might occasionally misunderstand your query or provide an irrelevant response. To overcome this, rephrase your question or provide more context and specific details to help the AI grasp your intent more accurately.
  2. Incomplete responses: ChatGPT may sometimes provide incomplete or partial solutions to your problem. If this happens, ask follow-up questions to get the missing information or request a more detailed explanation.
  3. Outdated information: ChatGPT’s knowledge is up-to-date until September 2021, which means it might not be aware of the latest Excel features or updates. To overcome this limitation, cross-check the information provided by ChatGPT with official Excel documentation or other reliable sources.
  4. Limited domain expertise: While ChatGPT is highly versatile, it may not have in-depth knowledge of specific industries or niche Excel use cases. In such situations, consider seeking help from specialized forums, communities, or experts in your field.
  5. Ambiguity in natural language: ChatGPT may sometimes struggle with interpreting or generating ambiguous language. To minimize confusion, use clear and concise language while interacting with the AI.

Special Considerations for HR Data

As HR professionals, we routinely handle sensitive employee information, and it is our responsibility to safeguard this data. When using AI tools like ChatGPT in conjunction with sensitive information, ensuring data privacy becomes even more critical. To help maintain data privacy while utilizing AI tools, consider the following recommendations:

  1. Anonymize data: Before sharing any sensitive information with AI tools, make sure to remove personally identifiable information (PII) such as names, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, and social security numbers. Replace them with generic placeholders or random identifiers.
  2. Aggregate data: Instead of sharing individual data points, provide aggregated data or summary statistics that don’t reveal personal details.
  3. Limit data access: Share only the necessary data with the AI tool and avoid providing access to your entire dataset or other irrelevant sensitive information.


There are several AI tools and resources available for learning and troubleshooting Excel functions, each offering unique capabilities and features. Comparing these tools to ChatGPT helps users make an informed decision about which tool best suits their needs. Some popular alternatives to ChatGPT include:

  1. Microsoft’s Power Automate (formerly Microsoft Flow): This tool offers AI-powered automation for tasks within Excel, enabling users to create workflows and automate processes without extensive coding knowledge.
  2. Excel’s built-in “Tell Me” feature: This built-in feature in Microsoft Excel allows users to type a question or keyword, and it provides relevant suggestions or actions to perform the desired task. Although it’s not as advanced as ChatGPT, it can be helpful for basic queries and tasks.
  3. Wolfram Alpha: Wolfram Alpha is a computational knowledge engine that can solve mathematical problems and provide answers to various queries. While it’s not specifically tailored for Excel, it can help with formula-related questions and calculations.
  4. Online forums and communities: Platforms like Stack Overflow, Excel-specific forums, and Reddit communities offer a wealth of information and support from experienced users who can help troubleshoot and provide solutions for Excel-related issues.

When comparing these tools to ChatGPT, consider factors such as ease of use, the level of AI integration, and the depth of knowledge offered. While ChatGPT excels in understanding natural language queries and providing detailed responses, other tools may offer more specialized or domain-specific expertise. Ultimately, the choice depends on individual user preferences and requirements.

ChatGPT is a powerful AI tool that can not only enhance your understanding of complex tasks but also streamline your work, allowing you to focus on what matters most in your organization. To learn more about how AI tools like ChatGPT are being used in HR, check out this informative video from AIHR: https://youtu.be/6PK9aExpw78


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