What Are Analytical Skills and Why Are They Important for Employment?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 12 September 2022 | Published 27 May 2021

Updated 12 September 2022

Published 27 May 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many industries mandate analytical skills as a necessity in job descriptions. Analytical thinking helps in various ways by enabling you to investigate issues, build solutions and make decisions. The good news is you may already have some valuable analytical skills preferred by employers. In this article, we define analytical thinking, help you identify which of the skills you have and how to showcase these abilities during the recruiting process.

What are analytical skills?

Analytical skills are qualities and traits that permit you to assess, interpret and research a topic so you can develop complex solutions and ideas. Analytical thinking can be applied in almost all situations, for example, building or improving products or programs, processes, relational issues, identifying client and audience needs and others. By analysing a topic, you can cultivate a detailed comprehension of it and gain expertise in this particular area.

Analytical thinking typically involves trial and error. People with good analytical skills can swiftly evaluate a problem, subject or situation, and are able to function well in teams to achieve objectives.

The process of analytical thinking

Analytical thinking involves multiple steps, such as:

  1. Identifying an issue, problem or topic

  2. Collecting information through observation and tests

  3. Deepening your comprehension of the subject or developing solutions

  4. Testing new ideas or solutions based on your learning

  5. Post-analysis to review what solutions were effective, to measure and apply your newly gained knowledge

Analytical thinking involves the key element of rapidly identifying cause and effect relations. You should be able to understand what could occur in the problem-solving procedure, for instance, and examine how new concepts are related to the original subject.

Importance of analytical skills

Analytical thinking is crucial because it enables you to create solutions for common issues and make educated and actionable decisions. It is a critical skill at all levels to understand problems and analyse situations for feasible solutions. By building this ability, you can enhance your work efficiency, achieve company objectives and boost your career.

You should ideally use analytical thinking in your daily work to show you're a pragmatic and reliable thinker who can make data-based decisions. For instance, if you only have limited time for work each day, you can create a plan to utilise this time effectively to create a meaningful impact for your company. This can make you an indispensable and valued employee. Utilise your analytical abilities to prioritise the important tasks that can help you achieve progress towards your targets.

Related: Inductive vs. Deductive Reasoning: Differences and How To Improve

If you aim to apply for analytics roles like lab analyst or data analyst, you should look to develop industry-specific analytical thinking abilities. Analytical thinking is considered a soft skill and for analyst jobs you'd also need to have hard skills related to the role. This applies to positions that need technical knowledge such as scientific research, engineering or nursing.

Other jobs that need analytical skills include customer service, teaching, architecture and computer programming.

Related: 20 Skills in Demand in Today's Workforce

List and examples of analytical skills

You can include the following valuable analytical skills in your resume to impress prospective employers:

1. Critical thinking

Critical thinking abilities are needed for all jobs at all levels—from entrepreneurs and CEOs to individual contributors and associates. Critical thinking traits give you the capability to question opinions, assertions or ideas placed before you. For instance, if you're told that it's not possible to meet a specific goal or perform a task, you can use your critical thinking qualities to ask deep questions so you can comprehend the root reasons of the problem:

  • Why the task can't be done?

  • Can we use expertise, manpower, money or time to solve the concern?

  • Is the time spent on resolving the issue worth the gains?

  • Instead of focusing on this issue, can we spend the time on other subjects? What payoffs can we get by investing there?

Critical thinkers are able to identify all facets of an issue and understand why the problem exists. They spend time to fully comprehend a concern so they can create a viable solution for it.

Related: Critical Thinking Skills: Definitions and Examples

2. Information and data analysis

Information and data analysis is an important part of analytical thinking. After identifying a problem, it's crucial to analyse and review the information or data in order to solve the issue. Therefore, collecting relevant data is crucial so you can use it to apply your analytical abilities. To get pertinent data, you should first ask the right queries.

3. Research

Analytical thinking involves deep research as well. After pinpointing a problem, you should do research to find a good solution for it. The research can be simple, like asking a manager or colleague who may be more knowledgeable about the issue. Or, it may involve conducting extensive online search via official sources. You can make your research process more effective by learning the information that is essential or valuable to resolving the issue.

4. Communication

You should aim to constantly communicate with relevant parties to identify problems, create solutions, perform research and discuss outcomes. After identifying an issue or solution, it's essential to communicate it to a company, team or individual to accomplish the end objective. Transferring pertinent information thoroughly and clearly is thus important for the analytical process.

5. Problem-solving

After identifying a situation, improvement area or problem and completing research on it, it's important to find an effective solution for it. You can use your analytical skills to organise and sort data collected through research before applying your problem-solving abilities to find an effective and reasonable solution.

How to enhance your analytical thinking skills

You can increase your chances of achieving your career goals by enhancing your analytical skills. Highlight your analytical abilities on your resume and during interviews to create a favourable impression during the recruiting process.

To enhance your analytical abilities, you can consider taking the following effective steps:

  1. Enhance your knowledge of the subject matter, which is the key to quicker problem-solving.

  2. Perform research and learn about the best practices in your industry.

  3. Seek mentorship or advice from experts in your industry or field.

  4. Take part in activities that need analytical thinking such as reading, games or team sports.

  5. Enrol in classes that require the utilisation of analytical abilities.

  6. Apply key analytical thinking skills in your job.

  7. Accept leadership tasks that need the use of vital analytical skills.

Spend some time to assess the analytical abilities you already have and those that can be improved. Note specific occasions when you used your analytical talent to solve an issue or improve something in school, as a volunteer or at work.

How to showcase your analytical abilities

After gaining a clear understanding of the analytical skills that you currently possess, highlight them in the job application procedure including in your resume and interview responses.

On your resume

You can showcase your analytical skills in three places on your resume which are the skills, professional history and objective or summary sections.

For instance, you can create a summary, work history or skills section that indicates how you've utilised analytical skills:

Example summary:

An attentive and experienced nursing assistant with a proven skill to efficiently and swiftly identify and meet patient requirements.

Example work history:

Nursing Assistant, Teoh Medical Centre

September 2015–Present

  • Provided emergency and after-hours care as required

  • Researched correct medications for each patient to avoid complications

  • Delivered first-line care for patients

Example skills:

Active communicator, efficient and fast problem-solver, good knowledge of HIPAA, knowledge of commonly used prescription medicines, accounting skills: CPR, CNA certified.

In the cover letter

You can use your cover letter to highlight your analytical abilities. Review the role description and provide a story about an occasion when you utilised analytical talent that is pertinent to the company. Link your story to the position applied for and bolster your candidacy for the job. If possible, use numbers to prove the effectiveness and impact of your analytical skills.

During the job interview

Be prepared with answers to common interview questions about analytical skills such as the following:

  • Describe an occasion when a problem was given to you without much information. How did you manage the issue?

  • How do you utilise information for decision making?

  • Explain the process you deploy to solve a problem?

  • On what basis do you prioritise your time?

  • How do you test new ideas?

  • Explain how you will analyse a program's performance.

  • Elaborate on the metrics that you would find most useful in this position.

During your job interview, clearly explain how you've utilised your analytical talent on past occasions to solve or improve problems for your previous companies. You can also use the pre-employment evaluations leveraged by some employers to prove your analytical abilities. These assessments are common in technical jobs like developers or data analysts.

On the job

If you're selected for the position and start working, you could use and improve your analytical abilities at work. Proactively identify issues and solutions and offer to assist in solving concerns. You can also volunteer for individual or team assignments that provide you opportunities to display your analytical skills.

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