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What Are Analytical Skills? Definition and Examples

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Analytical skills help you assess information and facts, problem-solve, and implement the best solutions. According to LinkedIn, they’re one of the top 10 most in-demand soft skills of 2023. So, what are some analytical skills examples and how can you improve yours? In this guide, we cover:

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Analytical Skills Definition

Analytical skills are the skills you use to make decisions and find solutions to problems. In the workplace, an analytical person helps the company problem-solve by breaking down information; looking through data and finding patterns, trends, and outliers; brainstorming new ideas; and making decisions on what solutions to implement.

These skills apply to multiple fields, not just in traditional data-heavy or analytics roles. You can use analytical skills in the workplace:

  • In marketing, to review traffic to the website and understand what is (and isn’t) driving people to the site 
  • In data analytics, to identify seasonal trends in a company’s sales to understand the best time to launch a campaign
  • In finance, to prepare forecasts of the company’s financial performance for the next year
  • In user experience (UX) design, to understand current issues with the company’s UX while interviewing a user
  • In sales, to create models to track revenue growth

Analytical Skills Examples

While analytical skills are a type of soft skill, you may apply hard skills to help you become a better analytical thinker. Analytical skills examples include data analysis, logical thinking, research, creativity, and communication.

Data Analytics

Data analytics is a hard skill where you look at data to put numbers behind answers to questions or potential solutions. For example, you might use data analytics to answer what products have had the most success during the summer vs. winter months, or to create charts or graphs that show the company’s recent financial performance. 

Examples of data analytics skills include:

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Logical Thinking

Logical thinking is when you use reason to analyze a situation and come up with a solution. There are a few different types of logical thinking, including:

  • Inference: Assuming an answer based on facts we already know
  • Inductive reasoning: Observing a specific pattern, then making a general conclusion
  • Deductive reasoning: Observing a general premise, then applying it to a specific situation 

For example, as a writer on a marketing team, I might use logical thinking, and specifically inductive reasoning, by taking action based on a specific trend I notice about my company’s audience. I may notice a specific pattern — for instance, that our audience is clicking on stories that have investment banking skills in them. Then, I could make the general conclusion that our audience values investment banking content. I would then test my hypothesis by writing more content on that topic, and hopefully increase our audience in the process. 

Research

Analytical people seek all the facts and information before coming to a conclusion. A smart researcher knows where to find those facts and who to ask for help to get more information. 

In the workplace, you might apply research skills to discover facts about the company’s history, like conducting a reflective analysis, and showing the company’s progress over the last five years. You could also do more qualitative research, and speak to colleagues in other departments to understand how a problem is affecting their team, or even set up an informational interview with an outside expert to learn from their experience.

Examples of research analytical skills include: 

  • Report writing
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Critical thinking
  • User interviews
  • Communication
  • Sourcing

Creativity

Analytical skills aren’t just about facts and figures; they also require creativity to brainstorm solutions and possible answers to problems. Creativity helps analytical people move away from the small points and think big picture. 

In the workplace, you might use creative thinking to organize a brainstorm with team members, or to propose product improvements based on a client survey. You could also use it to present information to stakeholders in a new, exciting way, or to create a new brand design for your company’s website. Creative thinking can be applied to numerous industries, even in more data-heavy or analytical roles.

Examples of analytical creativity skills include:

Communication

Your analytical thinking won’t have an impact unless you share it with the team; however, not everyone can easily understand data or analytical problem-solving. Communication skills help you translate complex analytical ideas into digestible, actionable takeaways for the rest of your team.

For example, you can use communication skills to explain a data visualization to team members and help them understand company performance, or to present high-level findings from a data exercise or statistical analysis. 

Examples of analytical communication skills include:

How to Show Your Analytical Skills in a Job Application

In a job application, you can show off your analytical skills in two ways: first, by demonstrating the technical analytical tools you know and second, by explaining your problem-solving skills to show your analytical thinking.

Demonstrating Technical Analytical Skills

“For early professionals, definitely showing the tools, the technical skills, and also projects you’ve worked on is important,” Kristen Rice, product manager, website growth at Sprout Social, says. “If you don’t have a particular project in mind or that you can share, showcase ideas that you do have around analytics. If you use a type of code such as SQL, Python, R etc., that is huge because businesses seek to automate analyses a lot quicker and there is an increasing need to connect data that doesn’t always share the same foundation. These different programming languages allow for the ability to do those things.”

You can include hard analytical skills on your resume either in a dedicated “skills” section or in a job explanation (if you used the skill in a specific work experience). For example, if you used your data analytics skills in a finance internship, you could write: 

Used SQL queries to extract data and create reports that helped the team decrease surplus spending by 13% MoM.

Explaining Your Analytical Thinking Skills

Yet you don’t need to know multiple coding languages or analytics programs to show off your analytical skills. You can also show analytical thinking through how you describe your problem-solving methods and approach at work. 

Consider:

  • What do you first consult when solving a problem? Can you talk about any experience analyzing numerical results, looking at website analytics, etc.?
  • What steps do you take to make sense of a problem? 
  • Who or what do you consult to help you solve the problem?
  • How do you test and iterate your solution?
  • How do you reflect on your solution? What steps do you take after?

Showing Soft Analytical Skills on Your Resume

On your resume, you can describe your analytical skills in your job descriptions. Even if you’re talking about soft skills, you should include the impact your skills had. For example, as a writer, I might write something like:

  • Performed competitive research analysis to identify three key improvement opportunities for our blog, leading to 10% traffic growth in two months
  • Led brainstorming sessions to produce 30 new content ideas each month
  • Conducted and shared analysis of top-performing content to inform future content strategy, leading to 20% MoM traffic growth

Showing Soft Analytical Skills in the Interview

In the interview, use the STAR method to show how you apply analytical skills and the impact your skills had. Again, even if you’re talking about soft skills, get specific about programs, tactics, or methodology you use when solving problems. This will give the interviewer a clear picture of how you work and problem-solve.

For example, you might be asked about your decision-making process at work. You can respond with something like:

My decision-making process usually starts with gathering all the information I know about the problem, whether that’s by researching, collaborating with other teams, or performing data analysis. Once I have a better understanding of the problem, I’ll then share this information with my coworkers and ask them to brainstorm with me. After that, I’ll perform a risk analysis of all of the solutions we brainstormed and make a final decision on the best path forward.

>>MORE: Analytical Skills Interview Questions (and Answers)

How to Improve Your Analytical Skills

Even though some technical skills are involved in analytical thinking, much of analytical thinking relies on your soft skills — which means it’s harder to know how to be a better analytical thinker. However, by understanding your current problem-solving process and asking others about theirs, you’ll start to hone your analytical skills.

Document Your Current Skills

It isn’t easy to assess your current skill level if you don’t know how you currently use analytical thinking, even in your everyday life. The next time you approach a problem, even something like figuring out what to wear to dinner with friends, ask yourself:

  • What facts am I considering here?
  • What research do I do? Do I ask anyone for help, and who?
  • How do I brainstorm solutions?
  • How do I make my final decision on how to move forward?
  • Do I reflect on my decision-making skills after, and if so, how does that affect my future decisions?

To use the dinner example, maybe you consider factors like the weather and the restaurant’s dress code when deciding what to wear. You might look up the weather using an app and research the restaurant online to see what the vibe is. Then, maybe you pull out a few options and try them on to see what you’re comfortable wearing. 

This decision-making process might seem simple, but it’s a true skill! Improving your analytical skills starts with understanding how you uniquely solve problems. 

Network With Other Teams

Learning from people around you can help you identify the problems they’re working on and show you how they may solve problems. You might learn about new resources or tools, or even just methods and tricks they use at work.

Network with people in roles that you’re interested in,” Rice recommends. “I’ve connected with people on LinkedIn who are resources for me, internally at my organization I’ve had the opportunity to learn from our data science, data engineering, and business analytics team, and I also try to attend events or webinars that are geared towards analytics to build my knowledge and connections as well.”

Create Opportunities for Yourself

An analytical thinker will take in facts, do their research, brainstorm creative solutions, narrow down to the most logical one, and reflect on their solutions after the decision was made to learn for the next time. There’s no better way to improve your skills than to put yourself into situations where you need to exercise your analytical skills — whether that’s doing something simple like logic puzzles, or even putting yourself in a professional’s shoes and pretending you have to make a big company decision. Practice walking through these steps when you problem-solve and make a decision, whether big or small.

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Analytics at Work: The Bottom Line

Analytical skills help you dig into problems and come out with facts-based solutions. While some technical skills like data analysis and visualization are elements of analytical skills, there are also soft skills like creativity and communication that are essential to being an effective analytical thinker. 

No matter what kinds of analytical skills you have, show them off on your resume and in the interview by detailing your unique, informative analytical problem-solving process.

Image Credit: olia danilevich / Pexels

Zoe Kaplan is a Senior Writer at Forage. Prior to joining Forage, she wrote and edited career and workplace content for Fairygodboss, the largest career community for women.

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