Definition and Examples of Analytical Skills
Updated 29 December 2022
Analytical skills, or thinking skills, help you take an in-depth look at complex issues, determine how to fix problems and come up with solutions. Many industries are in search of individuals who can demonstrate analytical skills as part of their employment duties. Employers value these abilities due to the fact that critical thinkers require less supervision, are capable of making good decisions quickly and are less likely to make mistakes.
In this article, we define analytical thinking, explore some analytical skills and discuss how you can improve them and highlight them during the application process.
What is analytical thinking?
Analytical thinking is a mental process that involves taking complex information or data and turning it into something that's easily understood by readers and listeners. You can use analytical thinking to come up with solutions or new ideas related to a topic or problem and to combine pieces of information in a way that makes sense to others.
The process typically involves steps like:
Identifying a problem, issue or topic
Collecting all relevant information
Focusing on the evidence or facts found in the information
Breaking down the information into chunks
Examining the chunks of data or information and identifying critical components or issues
Applying logic and reasoning for processing data or information
Breaking down complex information into simpler ideas
Developing a solution for or furthering comprehension of the information
Testing results or creating new ideas based on information learned during the breakdown process
Establishing which solutions are best or assessing new information, post-analysis
At the heart of analytical thinking is the ability to rapidly identify cause-and-effect relationships and devise potential outcomes. It is important to understand what could happen during the problem-solving process and examine how a new idea might be related or integrated with the original concept or topic.
Analytical thinking requires trial and error most of the time because assumptions and conclusions need to be tested for validity. An individual with strong analytical thinking skills can assess data or information quickly and accomplish goals in a short period of time.
Why are analytical skills important?
Analytical skills are important in a job because they demonstrate your ability and capacity to resolve problems quickly and efficiently. You can find solutions to problems more easily and decide what actions or steps you should take once you come to a conclusion. Having strong research and analytical skills helps you perform better, generate a higher quality of finished work and support the company's output and goals more effectively.
Building and refining your analytical skills are important in roles that require analytical thinking and problem-solving, such as lawyers or research analysts. However, most jobs will likely require you to think analytically and find solutions to problems, even if they don't specifically centre around analysing data.
Analytical skills list and examples
Here are some of the most common analytical skills and why they are important to have as a job applicant:
Attention to detail
Research and information analysis
Attention to detail
Possessing good attention to detail shows that you notice important information and are very thorough and accurate when accomplishing a task. This proves that you are capable of following instructions effectively and aim to avoid mistakes in your work. You take your time evaluating complex information or problems to find a correct solution that is precise and accurate.
Critical thinking involves conceptualising information, analysing the concepts and evaluating the information to reach a conclusion or determine an answer. You need to look at the problem from a variety of angles and follow your thoughts to a logical and satisfactory conclusion. Having strong critical thinking skills shows that you do not rush to make decisions and instead will take the time to fully understand a problem to come up with a successful solution.
Research and information analysis
Once you find a problem, the next step is to research and analyse information that can help you solve that problem. Research involves asking a senior member of staff for their knowledge of a given situation or engaging in extensive online research. Another aspect is knowing what to research and determining if the information you found is relevant to your solution.
Decision-making skills are important when it comes to deciding on a solution to a problem. As you gather information and address possible answers to the issue, you need to be decisive. Many people with strong decision-making skills use step-by-step processes to help them make wiser and more deliberate decisions. Being decisive shows employers that you can think objectively and have the confidence to trust in yourself and your decisions, which can help you positively impact the organisation.
Having strong communication skills is important in an organisation, especially when you are a part of a large team that has been assigned to work on a project together or to find a solution to a problem. You need to communicate effectively with your team to identify problems, research and glean information, develop solutions and discuss results. You also need the capability to explain your thinking clearly so that others involved in the project understand your point of view and your thought process.
How to improve your analytical skills
Taking the time to improve your analytical skills can benefit your job search and your career goals. Analytical skills are in high demand, so you can stand out as a candidate when you demonstrate your proficiency during an interview or when answering selection criteria questions.
Consider taking these steps to improve your analytical skills and present yourself as a strong candidate:
Seek advice or mentorship from professionals and experts in your current industry
Take classes that help you develop or improve your analytical thinking skills
Observe the world around you and engage in deeper thinking about what you see
Read books to gain insight from people who have been in your industry or field
Learn about best practices for your field and how to apply them
Think about your decisions and rationalise them to determine if your current solution is best
Focus on yourself to determine which analytical skills you possess, where your strengths lie and where you could improve your abilities. The more insight you have about your skills, the easier it is to start improving your weaknesses and building on your strengths.
How to highlight your analytical skills
In order to impress employers, it is important to work your analytical skills into your application process, especially in your selection criteria, on your resume and during your interview.
In your selection criteria
Insert your analytical skills into your responses to the job application's selection criteria. Begin by answering the selection criteria with keywords that demonstrate your analytical skills. Take the opportunity to highlight and showcase your command of the various skills involved in analytical thinking by connecting them to the role you're applying for. If the question asks for a specific analytical skill, be sure to include your proficiency during your answer.
On your resume
You should also include your analytical skills on your resume. Use your professional profile, key strengths, responsibilities and achievements sections to discuss how you used your skills in previous positions. Here is an example of how you might effectively include those skills in your resume:
Worked as an executive assistant to the CEO of Crystal Solutions for four years. My main duties involved keeping the CEO's schedule up to date, resolving scheduling conflicts and communicating with the CEO whenever I needed their insight on scheduling preferences. I applied my analytical skills to their daily calendar and helped them resolve issues with junior executive assistants.
Strong computer skills, including Microsoft Word and Excel
Advanced analytical skills, which helped me solve problems for my CEO
Organisation and prioritisation skills for handling the CEO's schedule and appointments
Coordinated communications between the CEO and others in the company
Managed and prioritised the CEO's schedule to ensure they could handle all of their duties in a timely manner
Developed creative solutions and strategies using critical thinking skills to improve company processes
Revised the employee handbook for clarity and consistency
Talked to employees to resolve common issues they faced regularly
Used analytical skills to find more efficient ways to conduct meetings
During your job interview
You should also make sure to highlight your analytical skills during your job interview. Take the opportunity to mention specific skills and explain how they helped you solve problems for your former employer. For example, if the interviewer asks a question about how you would handle a situation, engage your analytical skills and describe the kind of thinking you would use and the steps you would take.
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