Have you ever seen a job listing looking for someone with creative problem-solving skills or communication skills?
Those are just a few examples of analytical skills that employers look for — job seekers with analytical skills are in high demand across many industries.
The good news is that anyone can develop these skills with practice.
This article tells you what analytical skills are, how to learn them, and how to use them to help your career.
A person with strong analytical skills can collect information, organize and understand that information, and use it to draw conclusions.
Analytical skills help you see the bigger picture. You can look at a problem, think about it logically, and come up with the best solution based on the information available.
You probably use analytical skills more often than you think. Being able to think analytically comes in handy in a lot of everyday situations, like:
Weighing the pros (arguments for) and cons (arguments against) before you make a decision, like whether you should take a promotion.
Recognizing redundant or repetitive steps in a process and eliminating them to make your work more efficient. For example, you might decide to sort mail over the recycling bin rather than making piles first.
Troubleshooting a problem by starting with the most likely solution and working through progressively less likely possibilities. For example, if you’re dealing with equipment that isn’t working, you check the batteries or power cord first before moving on to other possible issues.
Researching possible courses of action and preparing a presentation with your recommendation.
Employers value analytical skills because they help you solve complex problems, make good decisions, and come up with new ideas.
But even if your work isn’t focused on analysis, analytical skills can help you in your career. Employers love employees who can make smart decisions without supervision.
Many of the skills on your resume and cover letter are probably hard skills. Hard skills are usually gained through education or on-the-job training, and they tend to be specific to certain careers.
Soft skills are traits like leadership ability, communication skills, or creativity.
Analytical skills are soft skills.
The great thing about soft skills is that they’re useful in a variety of positions.
If you’re a food server and you decide to work as an office administrator instead, most of your hard skills — like knowing about food safety standards or being able to operate a cash register — won’t be relevant anymore. But your soft skills are transferable.
Analytical skills are a great thing to emphasize on your resume when you change careers.
Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to do it. 58% of job seekers aren't sure how to include transferable skills on a resume.
Keep reading to learn how to showcase your analytical skills in your job application or resume.
There are many types of analytical skills, but they’re all variations on the same thing: the ability to take in information and use it to reach well-thought-out conclusions.
If you have any of the analytical skills on this list, make sure to emphasize them in your job search by including them in your cover letter and resume or talking about them in an interview.
If you lack in any of these categories, don’t worry — analytical skills are something you can improve.
Problem-solving is the ability to find effective solutions to complex issues. A good problem solver can identify and understand a problem, analyze it, and develop and implement a solution.
A lot of other analytical skills are a part of problem-solving. For example, research helps you understand the problem from all angles so that you can reach the best solution. If you need to make a big purchase for work, the way to find the best product is to do research — look at different stores and websites to gather information before making a decision.
Problem-solving is in high demand. 91.2% of recruiters say they look for problem-solving skills on students’ resumes.
Critical thinking means that you can evaluate information and make decisions based on that information. A good critical thinker knows the difference between facts and opinions.
For example, imagine you have to make a decision that affects the safety of other workers. Do you base your decision on the company safety code, or do you listen to your friend who says “it will probably be fine” to break the rules? A critical thinker will make the right choice.
Critical thinking requires you to know which information is credible, meaning it comes from a reliable source. Then you need to understand how different pieces of information relate to each other and interpret that information. With critical thinking skills, you can reach well informed solutions for your problems.
Employers appreciate critical thinkers because they make the whole business more efficient, which leads to the business saving money.
Since critical thinking requires you to rely on information and facts rather than pre-formed ideas and emotions, it can also help reduce conflicts in the workplace.
People don’t often think of communication as an analytical skill. However, communicating well is key to using information effectively.
For example, after you’ve analyzed a process and determined how it could be done more efficiently, you might need to present the new process to your team members or convince your boss to make the change.
Communication is also part of gathering the information for your analysis. For example, talking to your customers might help you figure out why your current sales strategy isn’t working.
People often associate creativity only with artistic interests, but it’s a valuable skill in any job.
And if you’re creative, recruiters want you. Creativity is the number one soft-skill in short supply at the workspace.
That’s because creativity takes analysis to the next level. You look at the information in front of you and come up with a solution. But it’s not the same solution that everyone would see.
Creativity allows you to think outside the box and go beyond the obvious answer to a problem. For example, in a retail job, you might come up with a creative way to show merchandise that allows you to display more items.
Data analysis is the ability to analyze large volumes of data and identify patterns and trends.
Data isn’t just charts and graphs. For example, if you have to cash out at the end of your restaurant shift, the information about your sales is all “data” that’s important to your employer.
Data analysis requires you to do more with the information than simply read and understand it. Someone good at data analysis can work with data to identify trends and connections.
Any task that requires gathering information can be considered research.
A person with good research skills knows how to determine what information is relevant to the problem. These individuals are able to organize and assemble the information in a way that will be helpful to others.
Employers are looking for people with analytical skills, so it’s beneficial to you to add them to your job application materials. But the list of analytical skills is long, and even if you have them all, you can’t put them all in your resume.
The secret is to use keywords.
Look through the job description and identify any analytical skills it mentions. Use those exact words in your resume whenever your skill set matches.
If the job description doesn’t list any analytical skills, you should still include some that you think fit the description.
Keywords are the best way to get past an Applicant Tracking System, or ATS. An ATS is a software system that screens applications. Your resume will have to pass through the ATS to be seen by a human recruiter.
These systems are usually looking for specific words and phrases. In some cases, they’re looking for the names of analytical skills.
Keywords will also get you noticed by a human hiring manager looking for candidates with specific skills.
You can list your analytical skills in the “skills” section of your resume or put them in your resume summary. For example, you might describe yourself as a “critical thinker with strong research skills.”
Your cover letter is another opportunity to go beyond keywords.
Think about times you’ve used analytical skills in the past and briefly include a story or two in your cover letter.
The best examples are the ones that got results. Maybe your research on the best place to buy materials saved your whole company money.
You can use similar anecdotes in a job interview.
Anyone can claim to have analytical skills — to impress the hiring manager, give examples that prove it.
You can learn analytical skills, but it takes time and practice. To improve, work on being more analytical in small ways throughout your everyday life.
Here are some things to try:
Watch what’s happening around you and try to take mental note of the details.
What problems can you identify at work? How do your coworkers approach them? Try brainstorming ways to solve the problems.
“Observe” yourself as well. Do you always follow certain patterns? What’s the effect of those patterns? For example, do you tend to do a certain task in an inefficient way?
The more you understand, the better your framework for analyzing problems will be. You’ll be able to use the knowledge you have to make better decisions.
Ask lots of questions. If there’s any technique or process you don’t fully understand at work, find out more about it.
Read more. Learn about subjects that interest you or subjects you don’t know much about, especially those related to your career path.
Before you double down on an opinion, consider opposing viewpoints.
Do you understand the reasons for those opposing viewpoints? What evidence do you have for your own opinion or decision? Is it based on information and logic?
Visualizing information can help you see connections and patterns. This can be as simple as making a list of pros and cons or drawing a mind map.
Visualization skills let you make good decisions faster, which employers love.
If you spend enough time analyzing information to solve problems, it becomes a habit. You automatically use your analytical skills whenever you need to make a decision.
Take some time each day to work on analyzing and interpreting information, and your analytical skills are sure to shine at your next job.
Identifying and developing your analytical skills can help you on almost any career path.
Look at the list of analytical skills above and consider which ones are your strongest. Then, make sure your potential new employer knows about them.
For more tips on boosting your career, check out the Jobcase Getting Hired Resource Center.