What Are Analytical Skills? Definition, Examples and Tips

Updated June 22, 2023

During your job search, you might include a wide range of skills, including technical and interpersonal skills, on your resume and other application materials. Many employers value analytical thinking, a special type of soft skill you can develop through experience and reflection. Developing and highlighting your skills in analysis can help you reach your professional goals and build a satisfying career.

In this article, we define these skills, explain why they're important, list some key forms of analytical skills and describe how you can highlight them in your application materials.

Key takeaways:

  • Analytical skills are soft skills that help you identify and solve complex problems.

  • Many jobs require analytical skills, like critical thinking, research and data literacy.

  • Demonstrating analytical skills on your resume and in interviews can help you be a competitive job candidate.

What are analytical skills?

Analytical skills are the traits and abilities that allow you to observe, research and interpret a subject to develop complex ideas and solutions. When you use several of these skills together, it's analytical thinking. You can apply analytical thinking in many situations in both your professional and personal life. Analytical thinking often involves trial and error and other systematic processes, which allow the thinker to reach a reasonable conclusion. Those with practical analytical thinking skills can quickly analyze a situation, topic or problem and often work well in a team setting to accomplish goals.

Related: What Is Analytical Reasoning? (With Definition and Tips)

How does analytical thinking work?

An essential element of analytical thinking is the ability to identify cause-and-effect relationships. This entails understanding what might happen during the problem-solving process, and examining how new ideas relate to the original topic. The process of applying your analytical skills usually involves several steps, including:

  1. Identifying a topic, problem or issue

  2. Gathering information through testing and observation

  3. Developing solutions or deepening your understanding of the topic

  4. Testing solutions or new ideas based on what you've learned

  5. Reviewing what solutions worked to assess and apply your new knowledge

Related: 12 Approaches to Problem-Solving for Every Situation

Why are analytical skills important?

While some industries, like data management and information technology (IT), might rely heavily on analytical skills, these abilities are valuable in all industries and career levels. Employers often value candidates with strong analytical skills because they can improve their company's operations. For example, a customer service lead with strong analytical skills might review customer refund data and identify trends, which can help the team reduce the number of refunds. These skills can make you eligible for a leadership position or other promotion because they demonstrate your ability to bring value to the company.

Related: 20 In-Demand Skills for Today's Work Environment

4 key analytical skills

Here are four valuable analytical skills you can include on your resume and other job application materials:

1. Critical thinking

Critical thinking is the ability to question preconceived notions, which can help you identify issues or areas for improvement. This skill is valuable at very level of employment because it helps companies evolve beyond traditional practices. Critical thinking is often the first step in the innovation process. For example, a logistics company might have used a certain system for organizing inventory for decades. A new operations manager might question the reasons for using this system. By identifying what the company needs, they can adapt or replace the system with a new one.

Related: 5 Top Critical Thinking Skills (And How To Improve Them)

2. Data and information analysis

Data and information analysis are primary parts of analytical thinking. Developing these skills can help you identify issues and solutions using data, which can improve your decision-making process. For example, a cafe manager might collect data about when most customers come into the cafe and what these customers typically order. This information can help the manager make staffing adjustments and prepare for incoming orders, increasing the cafe's efficiency and improving customers' experiences.

Related: Data Analysis: Definition, Types and Benefits

3. Research

The ability to conduct research can help you determine the most effective solution to a problem. The research process might involve asking experienced coworkers for their insight into a problem or conducting formal research into external sources. Depending on the industry, you might also design research experiments to test different products or marketing approaches. Part of the research process also involves knowing what information is valuable or essential to solving the problem.

Related: What Are Research Skills? Definition, Examples and Tips

4. Problem-solving

After you identify an issue and collect research, you can use your creative problem-solving skills to design a solution. You might test your solution or ask others for their feedback. For example, the manager of a recreation center might use surveys to collect information about what types of fitness courses the center's members are interested in and when they prefer to have classes. They might then use their problem-solving skills to match potential classes with staff members who are qualified to teach them. Finally, they can collect feedback about the course schedule to make adjustments.

Related: What Are Problem-Solving Skills? Definitions and Examples

How to improve your analytical skills

Improving your analytical skills can help you achieve various career goals. Highlighting your analytical skills on your resume and during your interview can also help you stand out as a candidate in the hiring process when applying for jobs. To improve your analytical skills, consider following some of these tips:

  • Pursue leadership roles that require the use of critical analytical skills.

  • Practice key analytical skills in your current role.

  • Take classes that emphasize the use of analytical skills.

  • Participate in activities that require analytical skills, such as team sports, games or reading.

  • Seek advice or mentorship from colleagues in your field or desired industry.

  • Conduct research on best practices for your industry.

  • Improve your subject-matter knowledge so that you can solve problems more quickly.

Related: 5 Top Critical Thinking Skills (And How To Improve Them)

Analytical skills in the workplace

Using your analytical skills can help you perform a range of tasks, including:

  • Resolving customer issues

  • Improving product designs

  • Fixing technical issues

  • Designing learning and development programs that meet the company's needs

  • Identifying new sales opportunities

  • Leading strategic projects

  • Designing internal communications programs to connect teams

  • Creating new product prototypes

  • Implementing continuing education programs

Read more: 45 Examples of Analytical Skills in the Workplace

How to highlight your analytical skills

Emphasizing your analytical skills on your job application materials can help you make a good impression on a hiring manager. Here's how you can highlight your analytical skills when applying for a job:

Analytical skills on your resume

You can include information about your key analytical skills in your resume summary, description of past jobs and special skills section. Here's how to feature your skills in each section:

  • Resume summary: Your resume summary includes information about your key qualifications. You can describe yourself as analytical or as a problem-solver in this section.

  • Work experience: In the work experience section, you can describe how you used your analytical skills, like data management, to meet or exceed job requirements. Consider including concrete details, like the problems you solved, to show your potential.

  • Skills: Having a separate section for skills allows you to restate your key analytical abilities and add keywords relating to the job description. In this section, you can mix analytical skills with interpersonal and technical abilities.

Download Resume Template

To upload the template into Google Docs, go to File > Open > and select the correct downloaded file.

Related: 10 Resume Writing Tips To Help You Land a Position

Analytical skills in your cover letter

You can use your cover letter to elaborate on the analytical skills you mention in your resume. After reviewing the job description, think of a time when you used analytical skills to solve a problem or improve your work output. Describe the situation in your cover letter, using concrete details to explain your thought process and the solution. Consider choosing a situation related to the job description or industry to show the hiring manager that you have the skills to succeed in the position.

Related: How To Write a Cover Letter (With Steps, Examples and Tips)

Analytical skills in a job interview

Before your interview, reflect on your past employment history and create a list of your accomplishments. You can also list the skills that helped you achieve these triumphs, like problem-solving or data literacy. That way, you can answer interview questions about your skills confidently and provide concrete details about your success in previous roles. Also, review the job description to connect your responses to the position you hope to get.

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