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Analytical skills: the complete guide with everything you need to know

Analytical skills: the complete guide with everything you need to know

Artwork by: Irina Troitskaya

  • What are analytical skills?
  • How analytical thinking works
  • 5 Common types of analytical skills
  • How do you describe analytical skills on a resume?
  • Add them to your summary
  • Weave them into your work history
  • List them in a skills section
  • What about other parts of the application?
  • Your cover letter
  • During the interview
  • What are analytical skills in the workplace?
  • Key takeaways

Analytical skills aren’t just for those in the STEM fields — they’re vital no matter what industry you’re in. In this article, we’ll take a look at analytical skills including what they are and how they can help you achieve career success.

When compiling or updating your resume, you’ll include a variety of applicable skills, including both hard and soft skills. A particularly important soft skill is analytical thinking, and employees who display strong analytical ability can contribute to solving issues and challenges, which contributes to overall efficiency and success. The most in-demand employees in today’s marketplace are those who demonstrate a solid pattern of analytical thinking, which allows someone to see patterns and forecast trends and then communicate that information within their team and organization and is especially important in fields such as medicine, marketing, finance, data science, and law, but nearly every position can benefit from developing these skills.

In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of analytical skills in the workplace, including:

  • What are analytical skills?

  • Why are analytical skills important?

  • Types of analytical skills

  • How to highlight analytical skills on your resume

  • Analytical skills in the workplace

What are analytical skills?

Analytical skills involve the capacity to identify a problem or concern, examine the issue to determine the facts, and come to a rational, reasonable solution. This skill can be used in both your personal life and your career, to tackle any issue that might arise. People with strong analytical thinking abilities can rapidly assess a situation and work with others to achieve the team's goals.

How analytical thinking works

An important component of analytical thinking is the capacity to recognize connections between cause and effect. This includes comprehending issues that could arise during the problem-solving progression and determining how new information relates to the problem at- hand. The process of analytical thinking includes several common stages, including:

  • Identifying a problem or situation

  • Collecting relevant information through experiments, testing, and study

  • Cultivating solutions to the issue at hand

  • Assessing possible solutions or ideas based on the gathered data

  • Determining solutions based on test results or projected outcomes

The ability to think analytically can help the company improve its processes and operations. For example, a retail buyer for a department store might assess customer purchase trends, which can help the store reduce the number of unsold items. This type of skill adds quantifiable, measurable value to an employee's performance, and sets them up for success.

5 Common types of analytical skills

  1. Creativity. Looking at large swaths of information requires the ability to identify trends in the numbers/data that others might not see. It allows an employee to “think differently” and find creative solutions to a company’s problems.

  2. Communication. Being able to think analytically is almost useless if you can’t communicate the solution to others, either verbally or in writing.

  3. Critical thinking. This facilitates the connections between data and solutions when you analyze information and come to a relevant conclusion.

  4. Data analysis. This involves scrutinizing a sizable quantity of data and detecting trends and patterns. It's more than just reading the data — you have to be able to interpret it in understandable terms and share it with others.

  5. Research. Decisions can’t come out of thin air — you have to learn about a problem before you can solve it. Gathering data and methodically studying an issue is vital to making decisions about how to best resolve it.

How do you describe analytical skills on a resume?

Highlighting analytical workplace skills on your resume can help you stand out from other candidates. There are three areas of your resume where you can do this — your summary, your experience section, and a "special skills" section.

Add them to your summary

A professional summary is a brief paragraph located at the top of your resume and is designed to highlight your skills and career achievements. It helps the hiring manager ascertain if you have the background they’re looking for.  The summary is a great place to mention skills that you have used during your career, utilizing job-relevant keywords which will also help your resume make it through the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). In this area, you’ll use terms that describe analytical skills, like “researched,” “engineered,” or “evaluated.”

Weave them into your work history

You can also put your analytical skills in your “experience” section, as you describe your analytical skills and how you used them in your previous positions. Make sure to include quantifiable information, like the types of issues you solved, and what the successful outcome looked like. This is a key place to include them, as you’re showing a hiring manager how you utilized these skills, not just that you have them. For example, you could include bullet points that convey examples of when you’ve researched a problem, and what effect your solution had on the company’s overall results.

List them in a skills section

You can also list your analytical skills in your aptly named “skills section,” which is generally located under your professional summary, along with other soft skills and technology platforms that you’ve used.

What about other parts of the application?

Your cover letter

A cover letter is a great place to highlight your analytical skills that you also include on your resume. Keeping in mind the job description, reflect on an occasion when you applied analytical skills to solve a problem or increase your productivity. Explain the situation in your cover letter, using specific details to clarify how you solved the issue.

During the interview

In an interview, consider your employment record and make a list of your achievements, including the skills you utilized to get there. This will allow you to answer interview questions about your skills confidently and offer information about your accomplishments in previous positions.

What are analytical skills in the workplace?

You might be wondering what these types of skills look like on the job. You can use analytical skills in a wide range of areas, such as:

  • Customer service

  • Resolving technical issues

  • Creating a professional development curriculum

  • Enhancing/upgrading product designs

  • Pinpointing new sales prospects

  • Leading tactical and strategic projects

  • Conducting research or leading a research team

All employees require analytical skills to recognize and resolve problems that crop up in the workplace, no matter the industry in which they work, and analytical skills help facilitate their resolution. Identifying and strengthening these skills will help you become a more confident, capable employee, and serve you well as you climb your career ladder. 

In the meantime, consider checking out our Career Pathways tool or our Resume Builder to place your top skills front and center.

Key takeaways

  1. Analytical skills involve the capacity to identify a problem or concern, examine the issue to determine the facts, and come to a rational, reasonable solution.

  2. Common types of analytical skills include creativity, communication, critical thinking, data analysis, and research.

  3. It’s essential to include analytical skills on your resume, no matter your field, so that you stand out from the crowd in a positive way. You can include them in your professional summary, skills section, work history, and cover letter.

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