Analytical Thinking Skills What is Analytical Thinking? Detailed Types of Analytical Skills Why Are These Skills Important For a Job Search? How to Develop an Analytical Mindset How to Highlight Your Analytical Skills The Final Words
Analytical Thinking Skills What is Analytical Thinking? Detailed Types of Analytical Skills Why Are These Skills Important For a Job Search? How to Develop an Analytical Mindset How to Highlight Your Analytical Skills The Final Words

Analytical Thinking Skills

Analytical skills are a godsend for any employer. Doubt it? Read our guide and find what these skills are, why they matter, and how they can boost your career.

Analytical skills are a godsend for any employer. Doubt it? Read our guide and find what these skills are, why they matter, and how they can boost your career.

If you have looked for a job recently, you have probably noticed that a growing number of hiring managers expect candidates to have not only professional qualifications but also an array of soft skills, for example, analytical skills. If you are wondering what analytical thinking is and how it relates to the job search, keep reading and you will find a definition for the term, as well as analytical skill examples.

Regardless of whether you only interact with people or you work with data and research information, you will need well developed analytical thinking. Nowadays, employees need to constantly develop their skills to adjust to new challenges in the industry and the job market. By improving one's analytical thinking capacity, employees learn to see new patterns and trends, analyze information more deeply, and come up with unexpected solutions.

01

What is Analytical Thinking?

Analytical thinking is the individual’s ability to observe and analyze information related to a problem and then solve it by using analytical skills, such as critical thinking, creativity, data analysis, and communication.

Analytical thinking is the opposite of emotional response to a problem. For example, you do not know why sales started to plummet. Emotionally, you would want to fire the salespeople who you believe did not do their job properly. But by using analytical skills, you can research the market trends and analyze the data. You might find out that there is a new competitor on the market and all you need is to change a promotional strategy to attract new clients.

By approaching an issue with analytical skills, you develop a more complex understanding of the situation. By observing a subject and defining a problem, you will be able to produce new solutions or ideas. Thus, we can say that there are several steps in approaching a problem with analytical competency: developing new knowledge, coming up with a solution, and analyzing the effectiveness. In more detail it looks as follows:

  • Identifying a problem
  • Gathering information
  • Brainstorming ideas and working out solutions
  • Testing solutions or new ideas based on what you’ve learned
  • Reviewing the effectiveness of the solutions, or assessing your new knowledge

The basis of analytical thinking is the cause and effect identification. If you are able to quickly grasp what seems to be the problem and what are the consequences, you will probably eventually be able to initiate a problem solving process. Do not think that great logic and problem solving skills exclude errors and mistakes. It is common for human thinking to make mistakes and then correct them. That is why one’s analytical capacity is very useful in teams where the intellectual capacities of each member enhance the thinking skills of them all.

02

Detailed Types of Analytical Skills

Researchers single out five major types of this competency, such as research, data analysis, critical thinking, communication, and creativity.

Research

Before you start working with information and working out a solution, you need to gather information. Research skills allow you to go to different sources of information, collect data, and look for relevant information. To make this analytical skill valuable, you need to be able to not only collect data but also prioritize it and check for accuracy.

Data Analysis

To be good at analysis means not only reading and understanding new information but also identifying patterns and trends in large amounts of data. Data analysis, in turn, is further divided into more specific skills such as financial analysis, policy analysis, predictive analysis, ROI analysis, rhetorical analysis, etc.

Critical Thinking

Data that is researched should be analyzed by using critical thinking skills. This is a crucial component for strong analytical thinking. Critical thinking refers to evaluating information and then making a decision based on your findings. Critical thinking helps people to make rational and clear conclusions. Detailing critical thinking skills, they include:

  • Deductive and Inductive Reasoning
  • Comparative Analysis
  • Correlation
  • Decision-Making
  • Data Interpretation
  • Classification

Creativity

Sometimes a problem needs to be approached from an unexpected angle. Creativity is crucial not only for arts and humanities but for business and technology too. From budgeting and optimization to brainstorming and strategic planning, creative skills are a parcel of strong analytical thinkers, useful for problem solving in any industry.

Communication

It would be difficult to try to apply one’s analytical skills in a team without being able to communicate your ideas and thoughts properly. Communication is an essential skill in many aspects. In analytical thinking, well-developed communication skills are translated into good oral and written communication, active listening, one’s ability to present one’s ideas, reporting, and enhancing group productivity.

03

Why Are These Skills Important For a Job Search?

It is easy to see that analytical thinking is just as helpful in everyday life as it is in a career. You can apply your analytical thinking skills to any sphere of your life, from weight loss to Tinder dating to buying presents for close ones. Therefore, employers now prefer to see strategic thinkers in almost any position. Job seekers with developed analytical capacity are better communicators and valuable additions to any team involved in problem solving. Hence, analytical thinking becomes a necessity for any job seekers if they want to be competitive on the job market.

Candidates with analytical thinking skills are most viable in leadership positions and in positions where it is essential to make business decisions and interact with people. However, strong analytical thinkers can work in a wide range of professions and workplaces, and companies/employers highly value their input.

Here are five reasons why:

#1 Strong analytical thinkers know their jobs and responsibilities exceptionally well

#2 Employees with developed analytical thinking skills are able to predict how small changes will be translated into the work of the company

#3 People who are great analysts often have correct and useful information at hand

#4 Analytical thinkers can support their ideas and solutions with hard facts and numbers

#5 Employees with strong analytical skills support good structure, procedures, and policies

Analytical Thought Process Jobs

It seems only natural that analytical thinkers excel in accounting, Information & Communication Technology, and logistics.

Any position that requires management needs people skilled in critical thinking and problem solving. For example, the profession of project manager controls work flow at a department or a firm. It requires the project manager to be knowledgeable about their job responsibilities and intricacies of a project they are heading. Project management is just as applicable in IT as it is in engineering or construction.

ICT careers are very rich for analytical skills. From database administrators and system analysts to test engineers and computer gamer developers, thinking logically and creatively is essential.

Is There a Difference between Problem-Solving Skills and Analytical Skills?

Reading the definition and descriptions of analytical skills, there is certain alignment with problem-solving skills, for example, in the analysis of a situation and looking for solutions. Where the two differ is that analytical skills are not limited to problem solving only. Analytical skills can be applied to forecasting, modeling, financial analysis, etc.

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04

How to Develop an Analytical Mindset

You may be wondering whether people are born analytical thinkers or if analytical skills can be developed. There are definitely all kinds of people, and some personalities may indeed have innate analytical abilities. However, in general, people have proclivities towards emotional and intuitive responses to new knowledge. Analytical capabilities require rigorous training through extensive reading and interest in science, technology, and philosophy.

Psychologists single out some traits that are very common in people with developed analytical thinking. Check out whether you can associate yourself with some of them, and you will understand if it makes sense for you to try yourself in analytical jobs:

  • You can give rational explanations to everything you do, say, and choose.
  • You like to spend time alone to think uninterruptedly and solve problems.
  • You make intellectual tasks and knowledge your priority and therefore your domestic life is someone disorganized.
  • People turn to you with their problems because you have extensive knowledge and can help with a solution.
  • You like to hang out with people who also think quickly and develop their intellectual abilities.

Even if you could not recognize yourself in the above mentioned descriptions, analytical skills can be developed. Much like how colleges develop special programs to help students develop their critical thinking and analytical capabilities, adults can arrange activities for developing analytical skills on their own. Here are ways and methods to build and develop one’s analytical capacity.

Learn to ask questions

When you see a solution, be skeptical and try to see its weak points. When you are solving a problem, do not overcomplicate. Start by asking: What do we already know? And what do we want to achieve? If you are facing an obstacle, ask yourself: What are we overlooking? Are we disproving or proving a point?

Develop healthy skepticism

Do not consider assumptions as facts. Remind yourself to critically evaluate what you know and believe. Check out your biases and cognitive distortions.

Be curious about the world

Get interested in the things that you take for granted. Scrutinize how domestic appliances work, how constituents develop their political leanings, how natural phenomena change over time, etc. By getting a better understanding of the things and processes around you, you will hone your analytical skills.

Evaluate what you know

Look at how others solve similar problems. See if you can find weak spots in their solutions. Start by questioning their evidence: who found it? how was it done? with what purpose? For example, if you rely on research findings published in a peer-reviewed journal you can question the premises and methods. For example, research could have been funded by your competitors. Therefore, the results may be compromised.

Play intellectual games

From puzzles and crosswords to chess and Sudoku, train your brain by playing intellectual games that develop your logical thinking and analytical capabilities. While you are having fun, your brain is getting training and new neuron connections. Also, google ethical dilemmas or find an activity to develop your analytical skills and try to come up with several solutions. This type of mental exercise will help you hone your analytical skills.

Train your problem solving muscles

Examine case studies in textbooks and learn about new ones from your friends and colleagues. Think of possible solutions to a case study, or several better solutions. Share your solutions with your colleagues and brainstorm how effective they are.

Work backwards

Even counting backwards helps the brain stay more concentrated. If you try to solve a problem backwards, you will spot elements you failed to notice before.

05

How to Highlight Your Analytical Skills

Given the popularity of analytical skills in employers and hiring managers, job seekers have a few ways to use them in their job search.

Start with the Cover Letter and Resume

To know how exactly to word your resume entries, peruse the job description carefully and see what kind of analytical thinking is required for a position. Phrase your cover letter and resume in such a way as to mention the analytical skills required for the role to which you are applying. Don’t limit yourself only to Work Experience and Skills sections. You can naturally weave your analytical capabilities into your interests and activities, and probably even into the Education section if you did relevant coursework and extracurricular activities.

Be specific

When you draft your cover letter and resume, don’t just add the generic phrase ‘analytical skills.’ It is too vague, and hiring managers will pass it over without paying much attention. If you specify in detail ‘data analysis,’ ‘research,’ ‘ROI analysis,’ etc., your competences will stand out and be remembered.

Give examples at a job interview

If you are asked directly about your analytical skills, don’t say general phrases that you have them. Prepare an example and illustrate your analytical skills by going into detail.

Get prepared for specific questions

Recruiters often use similar questions to find out whether candidates have the skills and abilities they are seeking. You may be asked about the biggest challenges you may face next year (analyze the company’s business plan, threat from competitors, and wider socio-political environment); about your work conflicts (analyze the colleagues’ motivation, behavior, and tendency to face conflict); about your ideas on how to invest a large amount of money (analyze the country’s financial and market trends).

Be ready for assessments and evaluations during an interview

Employers and hiring managers do not just rely on a candidates’ self-report regarding their analytical skills. The best way to check out one’s analytical capacity is to see them ‘in action.’ That is why job seekers are often offered to make a case study exercise right at a job interview to see how their analytical mind works. By explaining your thought process you demonstrate your logical approach and critical thinking skills.

Be prepared for tests

Recruiters often use ready-made tests to evaluate candidates’ thinking skills. To examine your analytical skills, a hiring manager may ask you to take numerical tests, situational judgement tests (SJTs), or inductive reasoning tests. Practice some of them beforehand to know what to expect.

06

The Final Words

Your analytical skills have a wide area of application. Indeed, they will improve your candidacy for a potential employer but they will also improve your everyday life by enabling you to identify and evaluate problems, develop and review solutions, and analyze the effectiveness of results.

As you can see, it is possible to develop analytical skills by engaging in very simple and mundane activities, such as reading books and participating in team sports. But also you can act on a larger scale and enroll in a class specialized in problem solving or do brain games. Use any opportunity to learn from more experienced professionals. Emulate your mentors and power figures in your field. Finally, never stop learning. The better you know your subject matter, the deeper you can analyze it and offer a solution.

Refining your analytical thinking process is a life-long endeavor, but in the long run, you can make yourself a more competitive and valuable employee as well as improve your cognitive capacities.

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