Analytical skills say a lot about a person. In particular, they say a lot of things that are very attractive to an employer no matter what job position you hold. When you demonstrate an ability to analyze data and make informed recommendations, you quickly become an indispensable part of the team. You become the go-to person for helping to make sense of the mountains of customer and other data flowing into the company on a constant basis. If you’re thinking about transitioning into a data science career, building your analytical skills is likely to increase your employability and give your career a higher overall trajectory.
Analytics skills can tell a potential employer that you possess some highly sought-after, quality characteristics. Who wouldn’t want to hire a candidate who is a good problem solver? Who doesn’t want to be surrounded by curious optimists, people who not only see a glass as half full, but who will research and find multiple ways to make it overflow? Who would you hire: a manager or a manager with analytics skills experienced in making smart, data-driven decisions? I’ve listed 10 characteristics of analysts below that employers look for in a candidate. Possessing any of these can help boost your resume and your career.
1. Critical Thinker
Critical thinkers can observe a problem or task and approach it from multiple directions. They have the ability to think logically about the problem and propose rational solutions based on scientific data. Learning computer programming is one way to kick start the critical thinking side of your brain. There is an infinite number of ways to write even the most simple computer program and the task of doing it efficiently and creatively will help build your critical thinking skills.
2. Problem Solver
Employers like people skilled at problem solving. Anyone with the ability to research and find the root cause of a problem will be a great asset to any company. Of course, critical thinking skills come into play here as well. The ability to analyze a problem, look at it from multiple perspectives, and propose and test solutions are all skills of a good analyst.
3. Finder of Opportunities
Data and business analysts sift through customer data and uncover opportunities. They can find out why a product marketing strategy is working so those same tactics can be applied elsewhere. They provide the data that drives the strategic decisions of a company. To discover opportunities, you need the ability to see the big picture. You need to understand the company, know the competition, know the market and be able to connect the dots.
4. Ability to See the Future
Analysts use historic data combined with current market trends and data analysis tools to predict the future. The world of predictive analytics is growing due to the combination of machine learning and the exponential amount of data provided by connected devices and the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT). Experienced analysts have their finger on the pulse of what’s happening at a company and posses a sixth sense, backed by data, about what is to come. This skill also goes hand-in-hand with decision making — a key skill hiring managers across industries look out for.
Analysts are always looking for ways to make improvements based on insights derived from the data. While I can’t say that all analysts are optimists, I think the optimization aspect of the analyst’s job must have some positive effect on them as people. I like to surround myself with optimistic people and I think employers do as well. Explore the science of happiness in a free course from UC Berkeley.
Data tells a story. A good analyst can decipher the data and build an interesting and compelling story that anyone in their audience can clearly understand. Having good storytelling skills will make presentations to executives and clients go much more smoothly, leading to an improved understanding of a situation and faster strategic action.
Gathering data requires strong knowledge of the data analytics tools and methods for doing so. Analysts must stay on top of the latest developments by researching new products, taking online courses, and learning new skills.
8. Good Communicator
The typical analyst will have multiple audiences inside and outside of a company. From discussing new tools for gathering data with engineers to presenting the results of experiments to senior executives, the analyst must be able to communicate with different internal and external groups on a regular basis. Communication skills are essential for any resume and having analytics experience can signal to employers that you possess this skill.
9. Ability to Focus on Key Issues
There are thousands of data points from an ever-growing number of sources. How do you sift through the metrics to identify the key performance indicators relevant to your situation? Analysts have a strong ability to focus on what’s important and this is a skill desired in any employee or team member.
You could say that children are budding analysts or that analysts never grow up. However you want to frame it, the key is to never stop asking “Why?” Analysts are good at asking the questions as well as finding the answers. Knowing what questions to ask requires an understanding of the business and a great deal of experience, both of which are very attractive to any employer.
Do everything you can to develop the analytical side of your brain, and remember that technical skills and soft skills are both important parts of being a good data analyst. Sign up for free online analytics courses below and give your career a boost. Have fun learning.