Analytical Skills Definition, List, and Examples

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Employers look for employees with the ability to investigate a problem and find the ideal solution in a timely, efficient manner. The skills required to solve problems are known as analytical skills.

Hiring managers look for candidates who are capable of using clear, logical steps and excellent judgment to understand an issue from all angles before executing an action.

Solutions can be reached by clear-cut, methodical approaches or through more creative techniques, depending on the objective. Both ways of solving a problem require analytical skills.

What Are Analytical Skills?

Analytical skills refer to the ability to collect and analyze information, problem-solve, and make decisions. Employees who possess these strengths can help solve a company’s problems and improve its overall productivity and success.

Analytical skills might sound technical, but we use these skills in everyday work.

You use analytical skills when detecting patterns, brainstorming, observing, interpreting data, integrating new information, theorizing, and making decisions based on the multiple factors and options available to you. 

Types of Analytical Skills

Illustration by Catherine Song. © The Balance, 2018

These analytical skills are essential for many different types of jobs in a variety of fields, including business analytics, data architecture, data science, marketing, project management, accounting, business development, programming, law, medicine, and scientific research.

Communication

Having strong analytical skills means nothing if you cannot share your analysis with others.

You need to be an effective communicator who can explain the patterns you see in the data and describe your conclusions and recommendations.

Sometimes you will have to explain information orally in a meeting or presentation. Other times, you will have to write a memo, email, or report. Thus, your communication skills cannot be limited to either oral or written communication; both are important. 

The following are types of communication skills:

Creativity

Often, analyzing information requires a creative eye to spot trends in the data that others may not find. Creativity is also important when it comes to problem-solving. The obvious solution is not always the best option. Employees with strong analytical skills will think outside the box to come up with effective solutions to big problems.

Creative skill sets include:

  • Budgeting
  • Brainstorming
  • Collaboration
  • Optimization
  • Predictive Modeling
  • Problem-Solving
  • Restructuring 
  • Strategic Planning
  • Integration

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is necessary for having strong analytical skills. Critical thinking refers to evaluating information and then making a decision based on your findings. Critical thinking is what helps an employee make decisions that help solve problems for the company. It may include:

  • Process Management
  • Ongoing Improvement
  • Auditing
  • Benchmarking
  • Big Data Analytics
  • Business Intelligence
  • Calculating
  • Case Analysis
  • Causal Relationships
  • Classifying
  • Comparative Analysis
  • Computing
  • Correlation
  • Decision-Making
  • Deductive Reasoning
  • Inductive Reasoning
  • Diagnostics
  • Dissecting
  • Evaluating
  • Record-Keeping
  • Data Interpretation
  • Judgment
  • Prioritization
  • Troubleshooting
  • Attention to Detail

Data Analysis

No matter what your career field, being good at analysis means being able to examine a large volume of data and identify trends in that data. You have to go beyond just reading and understanding information to making sense of it by highlighting patterns for top decision-makers.

There are many different types of data analysis, but some of the most common ones in today's workplace include:

  • Business Analysis
  • Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) Analysis
  • Cost Analysis
  • Credit Analysis
  • Critical Analysis
  • Descriptive Analysis
  • Financial Analysis
  • Industry Research
  • Policy Analysis
  • Predictive Analytics 
  • Prescriptive Analytics
  • Price Earnings to Growth
  • Process Analysis
  • Qualitative Analysis
  • Quantitative Analysis
  • Return on Investment (ROI) Analysis
  • Rhetorical Analysis
  • Scenario Analysis

Research

You must learn more about a problem before you can solve it. In other words, you will have to first collect data or information before analyzing it. Therefore, an important analytical skill is being able to collect data and research a topic. This can involve reviewing spreadsheets, researching online, collecting data, looking at competitor information, and much more. 

  • Investigation
  • Metrics
  • Data Collection
  • Prioritization
  • Data Entry
  • Taking Inventory
  • Checking for Accuracy

More Analytical Skills

  • Project Management
  • Leadership
  • Industry-Specific Factors
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Data Mining
  • Scientific Method
  • Time Management
  • Numeracy Skills
  • Risk Management
  • Identifying Cost Savings
  • MATLAB
  • Scatter Plots
  • Financial Management
  • Inferential Statistics
  • Fourier Analysis
  • Fundamental Analysis
  • Heptalysis
  • Log-Linear Analysis
  • Mission, Objectives, Strategy, Tactics (MOST) Analysis
  • Multiway Data Analysis
  • Pacing Analysis
  • PESTLE Analysis
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Bivariate Analysis
  • Price-earnings Ratio
  • Statistical Analysis System (SAS) 
  • Strategy, Current State, Requirements, and Solutions (SCRS) Analysis
  • Sentimental Analysis
  • Social Analysis
  • SPSS
  • Structured Data Analysis
  • Technical Analysis
  • Univariate Analysis
  • Cohort Analysis
  • Demographics

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

ADD RELEVANT SKILLS TO YOUR RESUME: Keywords are an essential component of a job application, as hiring managers use the words and phrases of a resume and cover letter to screen job applicants, often through recruitment management software.

HIGHLIGHT SKILLS IN YOUR COVER LETTER: In the body of your letter, you can mention one or two of these skills and give a specific example of a time when you demonstrated those skills at work.

USE SKILL WORDS IN YOUR JOB INTERVIEW: Ideally, you have at least one example for a time you demonstrated the skills most closely related to the job.