Analytical skills help you assess information, problem-solve, and implement solutions at work. They’re one of the top soft skills employers are looking for; in the last year alone, 2.7 million job descriptions listed analytical skills as a requirement.
So, what are analytical skills, and how can you improve yours?
In this guide, we cover:
- Analytical Skills Definition
- Analytical Skills Examples
- How to Include Analytical Skills in a Job Application
- How to Improve Your Analytical Skills
- Analytics at Work: The Bottom Line
Analytical Skills Definition
Analytical skills are problem-solving skills that help you parse data and information to develop creative, rational solutions. An analytical person in the workplace focuses on making sense of the facts and figures and using logical thinking practices to identify a fix.
These skills apply to multiple fields, not just in traditional data-heavy or analytics roles. You can use analytical skills in the workplace for:
- Reviewing website traffic data to understand what company tactics are driving people to the site
- Planning a multi-channel communications strategy based on past successes and failures
- Identifying seasonal trends to understand the best time to launch a campaign
- Preparing forecasts of the company’s financial performance for the next year
- Understanding UX problems by interviewing a user
- Creating models for the sales team to track their revenue growth
Analytical Skills Examples
While analytical skills are a type of soft skill, there are also hard skills that can help you be a better analytical thinker. Analytical skills examples include data analysis, research, creativity, and communication.
Data analytics includes the more traditional hard skills of analytics, like data visualization, coding, statistics, and reporting. An employee familiar with data analytics will have an easier time digging into numbers to search for answers and predict results.
Examples of data analytics skills include:
- Creating charts and graphs to show recent company performance
- Discovering which products have the most success during the summer vs. winter months
- Saving production costs by identifying surplus expenses
- Combing through user survey feedback to decide on focus areas for improvement
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.
Examples of analytical research skills include:
- Conducting a reflective analysis to show the company’s progress in the last five years
- Talking to colleagues in other departments to understand how a problem is affecting their team
- Setting up an informational interview with an outside expert
Analytical skills aren’t just 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.
You also need creativity in communicating and storytelling with data, especially when explaining analytical answers to team members who might not have a data background.
Examples of analytical creativity skills include:
- Organizing a brainstorming session with key stakeholders
- Proposing product improvements based on client survey feedback
- Asking a team member clarifying questions about their problem-solving process
- Using data storytelling to share a company progress update
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.
Examples of analytical communication skills include:
- Presenting high-level key findings from a data exercise to the company
- Explaining a data visualization to team members to help them understand company performance
- Sharing learnings from a statistical analysis with applications for other team members
Showcase new skills
How to Show Your Analytical Skills in a Job Application
In a job application, you can show off your analytical skills in two ways:
- Demonstrate the technical analytical tools you know.
- Explain your problem-solving skills to show your analytical thinking.
“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 also include these languages in the “skills” section of your resume if you have one, or include them in your job explanation section of your resume. For example, to show your data analytics skills, you might write:
Used SQL queries to extract data and create reports that helped the team decrease surplus spending by 13% MoM.
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?
Answer these questions to clearly and succinctly explain your problem-solving methods and show how you use analytical skills at work.
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?
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 to learn for the next time. Practice walking through these steps when you problem-solve and make a decision, whether big or small.
Network With Other Teams
“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, & 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.”
Learning from people around you can help you identify the problems they’re working on and show you how they may solve problems.
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.
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