What Are Analytical Skills?

Definition & Examples of Analytical Skills

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

Learn more about analytical skills and how they work.

What Are Analytical Skills?

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.

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. 

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

How Analytical Skills Work

Most types of work require analytical skills. You use them to solve problems that may not have obvious solutions or that have several variables.

Let's say you're the manager of a restaurant and have been going over budget on food for the past two weeks. You review the menus and what customers have ordered along with food costs from your suppliers.

You see that the cost of seafood has increased over the past two weeks. When you talk to the supplier, they explain that there's been a disruption in the supply chain due to weather. They've increased costs to compensate. You decide to reduce your seafood order to lower costs and work with your chef to develop new specials that take advantage of other protein options.

In this example, you used analytical skills to review data from different sources, integrated new information, and made a decision based on your observations.

Types of Analytical Skills

Illustration of five types of analytical skills, as explained in article.
Catherine Song / The Balance

The best analytical skills to highlight on a resume depend on the position you're applying for. Here are five skills to consider.

Communication

Analysis only goes so far if you can't share and implement your findings. You need to be an effective communicator to discuss the patterns you see and your conclusions and recommendations.

Analytical communication skills include:

Creativity

Analyzing information often 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
  • Restructuring 
  • Strategic planning
  • Integration

Critical Thinking

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 a company. It may include:

  • Process management
  • Auditing
  • Benchmarking
  • Big data analytics
  • Business intelligence
  • Case analysis
  • Causal relationships
  • Classifying
  • Comparative analysis
  • Correlation
  • Decision-making
  • Deductive reasoning
  • Inductive reasoning
  • Diagnostics
  • Dissecting
  • Evaluating
  • Data interpretation
  • Judgment
  • Prioritization
  • Troubleshooting

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 make 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
  • Process analysis
  • Qualitative analysis
  • Quantitative analysis
  • Return on investment (ROI) analysis

Research

You must learn more about a problem before you can solve it, so an essential analytical skill is being able to collect data and research a topic. This can involve reviewing spreadsheets, researching online, collecting data, and looking at competitor information. 

Analytical research skills include:

  • Investigation
  • Metrics
  • Data collection
  • Prioritization
  • Checking for accuracy

Analytical thinking is a soft skill, but field-specific, technical types of analysis are hard skills. Both should be highlighted on your resume and in interviews.

Highlighting Analytical Skills

Analytical skills are sought after employers, so it's best to highlight these skills when you're applying and interviewing for jobs. Consider:

  • Adding relevant skills to your resume: Keywords are an essential component of a resume, as hiring managers use the words and phrases of a resume and cover letter to screen job applicants, often through recruitment management software.
  • Highlighting skills in your cover letter: Mention your analytical skills and give a specific example of a time when you demonstrated those skills.
  • Provide examples in your job interview: They can be from past work, volunteer, or school experiences.

Key Takeaways

  • Analytical skills refer to the ability to collect and analyze information, problem-solve, and make decisions.
  • You use analytical skills when detecting patterns, brainstorming, observing, interpreting data, and making decisions based on the multiple factors and options available to you. 
  • Most types of work require analytical skills. You use them to solve problems that may not have obvious solutions or have several variables.
  • There are many types of analytical skills, including communication, creativity, critical thinking, data analysis, and research. 
  • Highlight and provide examples of your skills in your resume, cover letter, and interviews.