What are analytical skills and why do you need them?
Having great analytical skills is not just the reserve of the Data Analyst or Accountant. If you’re looking at a career in Finance, Marketing, Operations, or hope to start your own business, analytical skills are more important than ever.
In a world of fierce competition and dynamic markets, it is essential to understand data and to fully understand the sphere that you are operating within, so you can report back on the success of a campaign or dealing with problems. Analytical skills are also critical for financial reporting and budgeting, competitor analysis, customer insight, campaign testing, use of CRM systems and effective reporting, building key performance indicators, market scanning and strategic planning.
Sometimes analytical skills can be overlooked and seen as ‘not as important’ compared to other areas such as creativity and leadership, but if you want to be successful, think and plan strategically and make the most out of your job, you need to ensure that you invest them. If you’ve gone a little off-piste, an analytical approach can help to put you on the right track and see the bigger picture.
Can you learn and improve your analytical skills?
Yes! Just like everything else, practice makes perfect. When it comes to analytical skills these skills are best learned while doing, rather than in a classroom. Make sure you have a plan! Having a plan will help you to think of everything that you need to cover, report on and help you keep track of everything you’re doing. When it comes to improving your analytical skills you need to take your time, most people think that just because you are not seeing a huge difference in the way you think and solve problems that you really aren’t getting any better. Sometimes, picking up on certain skills takes longer than expected and that’s okay.
Another great tip for learning and improving your analytical skills is making sure mind games such as crossword puzzles, strategy games and Sudoku are part of your learning process as these have been known to improve people’s analytical skills. As long as you keep learning, your analytical skills will follow, as well as other vital skills that you need for a career.
You basically need to be a great detective - examine, question and challenge everything. By building skills in this area, you will become the point of truth and a key member of any team.
By Kerry Parker, Insight Manager, Pearson College London