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Written by Emily StokerEmily Stoker

Analytical skills: How to use them in your job search and beyond

12 min read
Analytical skills: How to use them in your job search and beyond
Artwork by:Varya Schuka
Analytical skills are highly valued in our fast-paced and ever-changing world. Whether you’re applying for a job or settled into your role and simply want to improve, employers want employees who can think critically and solve problems efficiently. This post covers everything you need to know.

Have you ever been told that you have a "keen eye for detail"? Do you enjoy breaking down complex problems and piecing them back together like a puzzle? Congratulations! You might just be an artisan of analytical thinking.

Analytical skills are highly valued in today's fast-paced, ever-changing world. Whether you are working in business, science, or any other field, the ability to analyse and interpret information is a valuable asset that can help you navigate any situation. 

By breaking down complex problems into smaller, more manageable pieces, you can identify the root cause of an issue and come up with practical solutions In this blog post we will cover:

  • What are analytical skills?
  • Why analytical thinking skills are the key to both successful job applications and job execution
  • What analytical skills should you list on your CV?
  • What analytical skills should you show in your job application?
  • How can you better use analytical skills at work?

Don’t forget that analytical skills aren’t necessarily something you’re simply born with. They can be learned, too. If you want to improve your analytical skills, this list could also be a good place to gain some inspiration. So, get ready to flex those analytical muscles!

What are analytical skills?

Analytical skills are a vital component of success in many industries. These skills refer to the ability to collect, analyse, and interpret large amounts of complex data. The overall goal is usually to identify patterns, draw conclusions, and make informed decisions. 

Individuals with strong analytical skills are highly valued in fields such as finance, marketing, and healthcare where data analysis plays a critical role in driving business strategy. However, analytical skills will do more than serve you in your job search. They are essential in many jobs. Analytical skills are varied, but can usually be broken down into the following categories:

  • Understand the issue
  • Explore the options
  • Find solutions
  • Deep dive analysis
  • Communicate outcomes
Statistical insight

Data analysis is projected to be the fastest growing digital skills cluster, according to research commissioned by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport. Predictions estimated its demand would increase by 33% from 2019 to 2024.

The demand for analytical skills will grow in demand across the country, according to the British government’s current data strategy. Jobs that require complex thinking and communication skills are continuing to increase as the way data is generated, processed, and stored continues to evolve. 

There’s no time like the present to put on your analytical thinking hat and gain a set of skills that will become increasingly vital in coming years. According to statistical analysis cited in the same government strategy, 72% of their survey respondents already use some data skills occasionally or a lot. 

Analytical thinking in job applications or job execution

Analytical thinking skills are necessary beyond fields dealing with data. Analytical skills are needed for any successful job application and execution. Whether you’re looking for a job or are settled in a role, analytical skills allow individuals to evaluate complex problems, consider different options, and make informed decisions. 

In today's fast-paced and competitive job market, employers seek candidates who can show that they can think critically and solve problems efficiently. Demonstrating analytical skills can set you apart from other job applicants and show your worth to potential employers.

Not to mention that analytical thinking is essential in job execution. It helps you and your colleagues to understand data, identify trends, and find effective solutions to problems. Being able to analyse the situation, gather information, and develop strategies to address challenges when they inevitably arise is essential. 

Analytical thinking skills enable individuals to break down complex problems into smaller components, making it easier to find effective solutions. Ultimately, employees who possess analytical thinking skills can make a significant contribution to their organisations and help drive success.

Expert tip

Ask for feedback

You don't need to be a boss to improve your analytical thinking skills. Ask your colleagues or supervisor to give you feedback on your work and how you can do better. This is a great way to improve day-to-day or specialist skills and show your team that you’re committed to improving.

What analytical skills should you list on your CV?

Analytical skills are the superheroes of the workplace, capable of saving the day in a multitude of scenarios. Plus, they’re just as important during the job search as they are when you’re settled into a job role.

So, let's get down to the nitty-gritty: what specific skills should you list on your CV? It may not be realistic to include every single analytical skill you possess. However, it’s wise to aim to highlight at least one from each family of analytical skills. Alternatively, you can share an anecdote that demonstrates the lifespan of analysing an issue. Think about dynamic examples that will give your future employer a well-rounded view of your capabilities.

Understanding the issue:

Identifying the problem in the first place is a skill in itself. Have there been times where you have gone above and beyond your call of duty in your role to identify an issue and understand it? If so, then you should consider listing one of the following analytical skills on your CV:

  • Active listening
  • Auditing
  • Evaluating
  • Data collection
  • Creating metrics
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Diagnostics
  • Data interpretation
  • Root cause analysis

Exploring the options:

Once you know you have a problem, an important analytic skill is knowing how to start figuring out how you will solve it. You’d be surprised how many unique skills come into play in this stage that can sometimes feel so small in the overarching analytical thinking umbrella. Think about which of the following analytical skills you use even on a daily basis in your current role that could be listed on your CV:

  • Brainstorming
  • Benchmarking
  • Research
  • Cost-benefit analysis
  • Big data
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Ideation
  • Risk assessment
  • SWOT analysis
  • Decision-making

Finding solutions:

There is no chance of choosing the best path until you have options. However, once you understand what is available to you and your team, it’s important to be able to turn those options into a roadmap. 

  • Collaboration
  • Predictive modelling
  • Troubleshooting
  • Strategic thinking
  • Resourcefulness
  • Prioritisation and planning
  • Project management
  • Process improvement
  • Conflict resolution

Deep dive analysis:

When many people think of analytic skills they associate them with these deep-dive technical lists of analytical skills. While this is just one facet of analytical skills, you may find that some of these specialist skills are in high demand. It’s worth taking the time to find the best language to describe any hard or soft skill so that the hiring manager reading your CV is sure to understand. The best clue for this is to reflect the language used in the job description.

  • Quantitative analysis
  • Qualitative analysis
  • Data mining
  • Statistical analysis
  • Trend analysis
  • Predictive modelling
  • Process mapping and optimisation

Communicating outcomes:

Part of your analytic skillset is your ability to share the information you find and reflect on it. In fact, your analytical skills are of little use if you’re unable to translate your findings into something that is useful to and can be understood by others. That could include any of the following skills.

  • Preparation of written reports
  • Qualitative reporting
  • Quantitative reporting
  • Influencing stakeholders
  • Written communication
  • Oral communication
  • Data visualisation
  • Presentation skills
  • Interpersonal skills

Remember to provide specific examples in your CV to demonstrate how you have applied these analytical skills in previous work experiences or projects.

Which analytical skills should you demonstrate in your job application?

In a job application, it is not enough to simply state that you possess analytical skills. You need to show — not just tell — your potential employer how you have applied these skills in real-world situations and the results you achieved. You can do this by providing specific examples of projects or work experiences where you have demonstrated your analytical abilities in your resume or cover letter.

Start by describing the problem or issue you were faced with, the steps you took to analyse the situation, and the solutions you developed. Be sure to highlight the outcomes and results of your efforts, such as increased efficiency, cost savings, or improved customer satisfaction.

In some jobs, it might be appropriate to showcase your analytical skills by providing examples of how you have used data to make informed decisions. Discuss how you gathered and analysed data, identified trends and patterns, and used this information to develop recommendations or strategies. Providing specific examples of your data analysis and decision-making processes can demonstrate your ability to use analytical thinking skills to solve complex problems and drive results in a data-driven world.

Of course, the most useful way of all to show your analytical skills in a job application is to take the extra time to understand the company’s needs and respond to them in your application. Don’t take the job description at face value. Put the extra work in to understand the intent behind the words. 

If you can go the extra mile to respond to what the employer really needs at an early stage of the job application, you’re likely to pique the interest of the hiring manager. The goal is for them to flag you as someone who understands the team’s problems and can help them to solve them.

How can you better use analytical skills at work?

It’s not just during the application process that you should be paying attention to your analytical skills. Analytical skills are crucial for making informed decisions and driving success in any type of job role. 

Start by identifying areas where your team or organisation can improve their efficiency or progress towards goals. Even if you don’t work with large quantities of data waiting to be interpreted, you can still highlight inefficiencies or bottlenecks. Look for patterns and connections in the work you do. For example, if you work in a customer service role, you might notice that certain types of customer complaints tend to occur more frequently than others. 

By identifying patterns like these, you can develop strategies to proactively address issues and improve the results of your team’s output. In the case of our example, this would be “improved customer satisfaction”. 

Key takeaways

  1. If you’re applying for a job, show your analytical skills with specific examples of when you’ve put your analytic thinking skills to practise.
  2. It’s all about identifying problems and working out how to break them down and solve them.
  3. You don’t need to work with data to use analytical skills. Look for patterns and connections in the work you do to drive your team to success.
  4. Your analytical skills are often only as good as your skills to reflect upon and communicate your findings.
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