Analytical Skills: What Are They And How to Develop Them?

Analytical thinking distinguishes the average job applicant and increases their odds of landing reputable jobs. It’s one of the most sought-after soft skills in the majority of industries because it helps companies reduce errors and boost productivity.

Despite these advantages, developing analytical thinking skills is no walk in the park. This fact is true.
But people often assume that developing these skills yields negligible outcomes in the short term relative to the effort.

But that’s far from the case. Analytical skills bring lots of benefits to the employer and employee. For employees, they’re able to excel in their careers and employers get to reap the benefits of excellence.

This article was drafted in response to the high demand of hiring managers for applicants with analytical skills. It’s also intended to enlighten applicants who don’t even know what these skills are.

At the end of the article, you’ll know said skills and be able to use and improve them.

What Are Analytical Skills?

The first thing you should know is that analytical (or diagnostic, systematic reasoning, or logically investigative) skills are soft skills. They’re not technical in nature and you don’t necessarily learn them as a discipline.

That said, when you have diagnostic skills, you will be able to do a lot of things without breaking a sweat or losing a penny.

Analytical skills are mental, not physical. They are like conceptual skills, and, thus, cannot be seen, smelled, tasted, heard, or felt.

Whenever you hear about hiring managers emphasizing these skills, what they are interested in is the natural or trained mental ability of an individual to pay attention to something, turn it over in their minds, and make inferences based on their observation.

Consequently, analytical skills refer to mental abilities or traits that allow you to simplify problems, tasks, and scenarios. It involves analyzing data, thinking critically, making difficult decisions, and solving complex problems.

The skills also enable you to rearrange their characteristics of any problem in your mind and apply them elsewhere.

So, the leading how-to factor of systematic reasoning skills is organization. Similarly, the leading reason for using these skills is to make better decisions.

Put differently, analytical skills revolve around the organization of a person’s thought processes. Meanwhile, the main purpose of the use of these skills is to increase your effectiveness and efficiency in decision-making.

Why Are Analytical Skills Important?

So, why are analytical skills important? Why are hiring managers so interested in them that they list them as keywords for job applications? Here are 5 reasons:

1. They simplify difficult things
The main advantage of having an analytical mindset is that it offers simplicity. You will be able to look at a complex problem and immediately grasp ways to break it down to bits. This also means that you will be able to examine the problem at a deeper but clearer level. As a result, systematic reasoning skills ‘downsize’ problems and make them more approachable.

This way, your team members can rely on you to make complex projects look easier. You’re able to break big tasks into smaller, manageable assignments and rearrange milestones to make them realistically achievable.

2. They make it easier to develop and apply well-thought-out and effective solutions

As diagnostic skills tend to simplify difficult problems, tasks, and scenarios, it becomes easy to develop solutions. The most effective solutions to problems are seldom complex. Thus, as these skills induce complex-to-simple transformations, people that possess these skills are often thought to be profoundly brilliant.
So, in a situation where you’re part of a team, you’re able to delegate and fashion simple processes to attack complex problems. People with analytical thinking skills can identify what to do and exactly how to approach each step.

3. They take pressure off the decision-making process

There’s a condition called decision fatigue. It happens where you’re mentally exhausted when trying to figure out the right decision to make. This could lead to costly errors, bad judgment calls, and indecision.
That’s why one of the desired outcomes for nurturing diagnostic skills is valuable decision-making. Because these skills help you consider every side and aspect of a problem, they are key to such decision-making processes.
In other words, having logically investigative skills boosts your chances of making correct decisions consistently. This reduces the risk of decision fatigue, ‘and others will often lean on you from time to time.

4. They are innately methodical, and so having them will make you more organized

Analytical skills are also known as logically investigative skills because they prioritize order above chaos. Thus, having these skills tends to make you more orderly, methodical, disciplined, and meticulous, all of which are winning traits.

5. They make you more reliable

Due to the discipline and thoroughness inherited from having diagnostic skills, other people tend to see you as trustworthy. The latter is another important characteristic for any job applicant intending to land a highly regarded job.

For example, colleagues and clients are able to trust your process even if they don’t understand it. That’s because you have a track record of making complex things look easy and solving problems.
Essentially, your analytical thinking skills make you a valuable team player.

How Analytical Skills Work

Seeing as analytical skills are mental rather than physical, how can you get them to work? There are 5 successive ways to ginger up these skills.

  1. Problem identification: You have to be able to observe problems, issues, and scenarios that require intervention. Half of every analytical skill relies on observational skills.
  2. Research: You ought to be able to make needed inquiries. After identifying an issue, the next thing you do is collect information on it. This can be done via observation or testing.
  3. Development of related solutions: Research lets you in on possible ways to fix a problem. Drawing from what you know lets you develop solutions in line with the problem.
  4. Application of developed solutions to problems: Having logically investigative skills also means being able to apply solutions to problems, which is a needed requirement for testing how appropriate the developed solutions are.

After testing, you have to adapt the developed solution to a wide range of related problems.

Types of Analytical Skills

There are different types of systematic reasoning skills. However, each of these skill types can be categorized under the following:

  1. Critical Thinking: The ability to mentally and objectively observe and diagnose an issue, task, or situation. Critical thinking allows you to make well-thought decisions that are based on logical reasoning.
    When you think critically, you don’t just accept conclusions and arguments brought before you. Instead, you go into deep questioning and find out the facts that back those arguments and conclusions. You’re curious and skeptical. You’re open to being wrong as long as you get to the right conclusion.
  2. Research: Skills that revolve around the ability to investigate a problem and find out every detail about it. You get to identify the origin, nature and history of a problem to be able to fashion out the right solution.
    The process involves everything from asking a manager or colleague about details of a particular issue to checking scholarly articles on a specific topic.
  3. Information and Data Analysis: Analytical thinkers love to work with complete information. It allows them to know the crux of the matter and help them find and eliminate potential errors.
    That’s why they have to perform extensive research before tackling a problem or handling a task.
    But after gathering information, they must analyze it. That’s why information analysis is a critical part of being an analytical thinker. It lets you organize the information obtained from research.
  4. Communication (Presentation): Skills that let you present your findings rationally and convincingly. They involve verbal and non-verbal skills that allow you to share your thoughts and ideas in different settings.
    You must know how to convince others and show them why your findings and plans are valid, especially when you’re still proving yourself. Verbal communication skills, for example, are valuable during interviews.
  5. Problem-Solving (Relevant Application): Skills that let you successfully apply the solutions you developed without mixing up observed problems or using unsuitable means.

How to Improve Your Analytical Skills

Some individuals are blessed with natural analytical thinking skills. But that doesn’t mean others can’t develop them.

There are things you can do to train your mind to be more analytical. They include:

  • Consciously analyze and assess your environment: Try to always observe and take note of everything around you. Always ask the “how” and “why” in any situation. This way, you’re training your mind to be curious.
  • Teach others: By teaching others how things work, you’re not just learning but also identifying fine details about specific topics.
  • Play new games: Games that involve strategic thinking such as mathematical games, board games, and crossword puzzles will allow you to think more critically.

It doesn’t end at developing an analytical mindset.

Whether you learnt how to be an analytical thinker or have the ability naturally, you must continue to improve.

There are many different methods of improving your skills. Two of these methods are presented as follows:

  1. Study and improve knowledge of relevant subjects: Information is a core component of diagnostic skills. As a result, the more information you have regarding a particular subject, the greater your ability to analyze it satisfactorily. Thus, research is the most important tool in the toolbox of anybody that uses diagnostic skills effectively.
  2. Practice your analytical skills by taking part in activities that require them: After researching important subjects, practicing possible solutions is the next step. If, for example, you find that a decentralized management style in your firm boosts employee engagement more than the centralized system, you need to test out this solution in any way available. This may be in your weekend basketball sessions or when you team up with office colleagues for a friendly game of Scrabble. Knowing the effectiveness of your solution in different situations and levels will help you refine and apply it better.

How to Highlight Your Analytical Skills (with Examples)

You may have as many systematic reasoning skills as humanly possible. As long as you can list and draw attention to these skills in your resume, you don’t have a problem.

However, if you are like the majority of job applicants, then you need to know how to include these skills in your job applications, cover letters, and resumes.

Let us take your resume, for instance. You can only correctly include systematic reasoning in three sections of this resume. These include the Resume Summary section, the Professional Experience section, and the Skills section. Moreover, for each of these sections, hiring managers frown at any arbitrary itemization of these skills.

Highlighting Analytical Skills in the Resume Summary Section

The Resume Summary section serves as an important pillar of your resume because it includes all relevant information. To shine the light on your logically investigative skills and attract hiring managers, you have to be subtle. A good example is given below for a Fashion Designer job:

An experienced fashion designer with a highly perceptive mind and meticulous disposition. An effective communicator with great interpersonal skills.

Highlighting Analytical Skills in the Professional Experience Section

When you want to draw attention to your diagnostic skills in the Professional Experience section of your resume, you may first make a list of the most notable actions you took in former places of employment.
After outlining these actions, you can then add some of the systematic reasoning skills mentioned in the job requirements. A good example is given below for the position of a Structural Architect:

Chief Architect at Sam & Tom Construction, July 2015 to present
– Methodically assigned roofing and wall materials to different housing situations.
– Researched cost-effective means of home-building in high-class business neighborhoods and suggested the use of solar power (which is cheaper) as a replacement for fossil fuel.

Highlighting Analytical Skills in the Skills Section

The Skills section usually consists of a list of hard and soft skills, so you can use bullets to highlight every systematic reasoning skill in your arsenal. These skills may include diagnostic skills such as brainstorming, critical thinking, attention to detail, comparative analytics, deductive reasoning, troubleshooting, etc.

Exhibiting Your Analytical Skills in Your Job Interview

Displaying your analytical thinking skills during an interview helps your recruiters confirm what you have highlighted in your cover letter and resume.

First, ensure you critically unpack every question and provide detailed answers.

Then, you should identify and take advantage of any opportunity to share a story of how you analyzed a complex problem, simplified it, and provided a working solution. You should also explain how you can predict, discover, and prevent errors.

Conclusion

All in all, having analytical skills can make the difference between landing the job you want and are applying for, and remaining an unemployed and under-employed person. Developing these skills is not difficult, and it is just as easy to highlight them in your resume.

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