No, Analytical Skills Aren’t Just for Analysts—Here’s How to Show Yours Off in a Job Search

No, Analytical Skills Aren’t Just for Analysts—Here’s How to Show Yours Off in a Job Search was originally published on The Muse, a great place to research companies and careers. Click here to search for great jobs and companies near you.

You know that your skills are important when you’re looking for a job. You know you need some combination of hard skills and soft skills, and likely some technical skills as well. But when you hear the phrase “analytical skills,” you might assume that they’re only relevant for people in careers that involve a lot of math or in positions with the word “analyst” in the title. This actually isn’t the case. Analytical skills are essential for almost every job, and therefore almost every job search.

What Are Analytical Skills?

Analytical skills are the knowledge and abilities that help you to evaluate information and solve problems. Any “skills that relate to logical and critical thinking, research, analysis, [and] problem solving or resolution” are analytical, says Muse career coach Tara Goodfellow, owner of Athena Consultants. So if you’ve ever had to gather or read through data (either quantitative or qualitative) and synthesize it in order to make decisions or recommendations, you’ve used analytical skills. This can mean anything from evaluating the past financials of a company and constructing a predictive model to looking at customer feedback on a marketing campaign and deciding what to change next time.

Analytical skills are especially important for jobs in the sciences, engineering, math, financial services, and IT, Goodfellow says. But any job where you’re doing research or assessing information requires some level of analysis, she says. “If you are using data, more than likely, you are applying analytical skills.”

Whether they’re a smaller component of your job (for example, if you’re an account executive occasionally pulling sales reports or a department manager evaluating your quarterly budget) or an integral part of your role (as a data analyst, for instance), analytical skills are critical for your success. Every job requires some level of problem solving and/or decision making, even if those problems and decisions seem small.

Types of Analytical Skills (and Examples of Each)

There are many analytical skills, and which ones are most important vary depending on your exact job (or the exact job you’re hoping to land). Generally, they fall into a few different buckets.

Data and Information Analysis

These skills speak to the types of things you are adept at analyzing—whether it’s data sets, qualitative information, or some combination of the two—as well as your ability to use established methods of analysis.

  • Auditing
  • Analyzing the results of a campaign, strategy, or process
  • Big data analysis
  • Budget analysis
  • Causal analysis
  • Cost analysis
  • Credit analysis
  • Data analysis
  • Descriptive analysis
  • Financial analysis
  • Financial modeling
  • Interpreting or synthesizing survey results
  • Market analysis
  • Predictive modeling
  • Quantifying results
  • Research analysis
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) analysis
  • Statistical tests (for example, chi-squared test, linear regression, and t-test)
  • Stock analysis
  • SWOT analysis
  • User analysis

Problem Solving and Critical Thinking

A key set of analytical skills speaks to your ability to take what you’ve observed and use it to find solutions to problems or form a judgement.

  • Budget allocation
  • Decision making
  • Deductive reasoning
  • Drawing conclusions
  • Inductive reasoning
  • Making recommendations
  • Setting benchmarks, key performance indicators (KPIs), or objectives and key results (OKRs)
  • Solution creation
  • Strategy implementation
  • Prioritization
  • Time management
  • Troubleshooting

Research

These analytical skills show that you know how to identify what information you need and how to find it.

  • A/B testing
  • Attention to detail
  • Audience research
  • Company research
  • Competitor research
  • Creating and conducting surveys
  • Data collection
  • Data mining
  • Finding and interviewing experts
  • Forecasting
  • Industry research
  • Market research
  • Pulling data
  • Reading relevant reports or studies
  • SEO research
  • Surveying or interviewing
  • User experience (UX) research

Software and Tools

The software and tools you use for analysis will vary widely by industry, company, and position, but here are a few. When talking about these during your job search, be sure to include how you’ve used them.

  • IBM Cognos Impromptu
  • Google Analytics or Search Console
  • Looker
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Montgomery Investment Technology FinTools XL
  • QuickBooks
  • Tableau
  • The MathWorks MATLAB
  • SEO tools (for example, Ahrefs, BrightEdge, and SEMrush)
  • Social media analytics tools (for example, Facebook Analytics or Twitter Analytics)

Creativity

While you might think analysis leaves no room for thinking outside the box, there are analytical skills that rely on your ability to come up with new solutions, spot new patterns, or identify factors that may impact the data currently or in the future. Here are a few examples of creative analytical skills:

  • Brainstorming
  • Coming up with new solutions or strategies
  • Data selection
  • Data visualization
  • Process creation or optimization
  • Spotting patterns

Communication Skills

Communication skills are what allow you to exchange information with others both inside and outside of your workplace. When it comes to aspects of communication related to analytical skills, the ability to take in and interpret information is key. For example, you might need to gather information from a highly technical report or from a colleague or expert who uses a lot of jargon, or you might have to explain your analysis process to others with a less detailed understanding of the situation.

Some examples of communication skills of this type are:

  • Active listening
  • Analytical writing
  • Cross-functional communication
  • Presenting data, findings, or recommendations
  • Translating complex and/or technical information for a wider audience
  • Reading and comprehending different types of documents specific to your field
  • Reporting on findings

 

How to Showcase Analytical Skills in Your Job Search

Every position requires different analytical skills, so it’s important to thoroughly read each job description so you know which skills to highlight as you move through the hiring process. At all stages of your job search, make sure you’re specific: Talk about the individual skills you’ll be using rather than broad categories like “research skills,” “creativity,” or “problem solving.”

On a Resume

On your resume, your most important skills should be listed in at least two places: a skills section and the bullet points under your past experiences. Your skills section should list all of the preferred or required qualifications mentioned in the job description that you have experience with as well as any other skills you have that will help you perform the position’s job duties. If you have a lot of skills to list, particularly for an analysis-heavy role, you might consider creating a subsection specifically for your analytical skills (or even further subdividing to highlight specific types of analytical skills).

For example, a social media manager’s skill section might look like this:

Social Media Management: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Twitter
Communication Skills: Blog Writing, Social Media Copywriting
Analytical Skills: A/B Testing, Data Visualization (Tableau, Microsoft Excel), Google Analytics, Google AdWords, Market Analysis, Conversion Rate Optimization

It’s OK to be a little broader in your skills section, Goodfellow says, but in your experience section, you want to add more details. For instance, if you’re saying you streamlined and automated reporting, include what tools you used, your role and impact in the project, and the results of the project, Goodfellow says. Whenever possible, you want to add numbers to quantify your experiences and show just how much you accomplished. And try to use the same language as the job description. If a posting is looking for someone who has experience with Tableau, don’t just say you’ve “created data visualizations,” for example.

Here’s how a bullet point for a product marketer highlighting some of their research skills might look:

  • Conducted customer research on product messaging through surveys of 200 customers and individual interviews with 15 customers. Refined and iterated messaging, leading to a 30% sales increase for an underselling product between Q1 and Q2 of 2019.

In a Cover Letter

Your cover letter is a great place to call out specific analytical skills that are especially important to the job you’re applying to. Don’t just state that you have analytical skills, tell a (brief) story about how you’ve used them and what results you got for the company you worked for.

For instance, a budget analyst might say:

In my last position at Silver Inc., I conducted a full budget analysis for the sales department and found inefficiencies in spending. For example, a lot of money was going toward software that was very rarely used or where only the free features were being utilized. My analysis and recommendations ultimately resulted in a 20% quarterly spending decrease, which allowed the department to avoid layoffs.

In a Job Interview

Prepare for your job interview by reviewing common interview questions, and think about ways you might work your key analytical skills into your answers (when it makes sense, of course). Come prepared with stories of how you’ve used your analytical skills. You can use the STAR method to structure your answers to make sure that you’re hitting on all of the key parts of your story in a logical way.

A graphic designer or project manager wanting to highlight some of their problem solving abilities might answer the question “What is your greatest strength?” like this:

I’d have to say that one of my greatest strengths is adjusting my thinking about problems to find solutions that no one has thought of before. For example, at my current job, the graphic design department as a whole was having trouble meeting deadlines. I realized that the thing slowing us down most was the back and forth with clients as they asked for small tweaks to designs. To cut down on this, I came up with a list of questions to include every time we sent clients a design. We prompt them to comment on every aspect of the graphic—including font, color, and other elements—so that they think about every tweak they might want each time. Of course, this hasn’t eliminated the back and forth entirely, but it has significantly reduced the time needed to complete designs, with about 95% of our original deadlines being hit last quarter.

By Regina Borsellino - The Muse
The Muse
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