If you’ve become seasoned at applying for jobs, you probably already have a pretty impressive resume.
But even if it’s a fantastic one-page summary of your work experience and academic history, the question remains: have you listed your analytical skills? If not, can you even define what analytical skills you possess?
In the event you’re wondering what the heck all of this means, this guide will show you the value of inserting a few choice phrases into the “skills” portion of your resume.
What are analytical skills?
Analytical skills are, in plainest terms, the skills you use to gather and process information. That’s why they’re called analytical skills—they’re all about analysing.
Here’s an example of what putting these skills to work would look like: someone asks you to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but you’ve never heard of such a thing before. Given that you have a task and have absolutely no idea how to achieve it, what do you do?
First, you’re going to want to research what a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is. As you learn about what ingredients make this sandwich, you’re going to disregard irrelevant results from your search, such as those giving guidance on making grilled cheese sandwiches. And each time you discard irrelevant data and expand your knowledge of what accurate data looks like, you’re exercising analytical skills.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to determine which specific type of peanut butter and jelly sandwich is required to fulfill your task. So you’ll ask the person who assigned the task which variation of sandwich they’re in need of. By using communication in this way, you’re exercising another analytical skill.
Now you’ll have to assess your options to work toward a solution to your task.
You know your client wants white bread, crunchy peanut butter, and strawberry jelly, so you need to calculate the benefits and disadvantages of hiring someone to make the sandwich and deliver it to you versus going out, getting the ingredients, and doing the cooking yourself.
This assessment phase illustrates yet another analytical skill in motion.
Why do analytical skills matter?
As you can see from the lengthy sandwich example detailed above, analytical skills can get you from knowing nothing to knowing everything and having the ability to take action. You can see how this would be useful.
Imagine your boss assigns you a do-or-die task that you’re not familiar with. How do you handle it and save your job? Via analytical skills.
Just apply the above methodology to your problem and odds are a solution will emerge. That’s likely what your employer is counting on you to do when they give you a task that requires analytical skills.
Which analytical skills do you need on your resume?
There are a handful of key analytical skills you must list on your resume, so we’ll break those down right here. You’ll want to include some variation of these items underneath your resume’s “skills” section:
- Capacity to research, fact-check, and compile accurate data
- Ability to communicate and solve problems within teams
- Critical thinking and complex ideation skills
- Management abilities (with regards to time, risk, teams, etc.)
The bulk of these are things you’re probably going to organically integrate into your cover letter anyway, so you wouldn’t want to waste resume space repeating information. And not all jobs are going to require all of these skills.
Plus, stuff like “critical thinking” isn’t exactly groundbreaking resume material—it’s more of a dumb, corporate-flavoured buzz phrase than anything else. It doesn’t describe your value. So why is it on our recommended skills list?
That’s where the “include some variation of these items” part of our resume-building instructions comes into play.
You’re not going to want to outright say “I’m a critical thinker,” since that’s going to have the counterproductive effect of making you look like a fool.
But if you repackage and rephrase that idea into words specifically applicable to whatever job and field you’re applying to, odds are it’s going to gel well. The point is to communicate the idea that you’re a critical thinker without having to overtly say it.
That last bit is key: how you phrase your analytical skill repertoire matters. Don’t start blurting out analytical buzzwords en masse because they sound cool on paper. Tweak them to fit your particular situation.
Analytical skills you must list on your resume, in summary
When employers and recruiters look at a resume, they’re thinking about it with the job they’re aiming to fill in mind. They’re considering how your skills match up with the tasks that’d be assigned to you, and if you’d be able to rise to the challenges of a given role.
The applicant whose resume outlines analytical skills is the applicant who has demonstrated that they’re ready for challenges beyond what they’re familiar with, because they have a mindset that’s custom-built for adapting to new obstacles.
If you’re not showing off any analytical skills at all, either in your cover letter or resume, that’s a problem. Fix it! You can take a numerical reasoning practice test to showcase that your analytical skills are on point.
Odds are, if you’re missing something as integral as this, you might need to spruce up a few other areas of your application package template. Do you know the best way to sign off on a cover letter sent by email? Are you making rookie resume mistakes? Have you mislabeled your CV as a resume without even knowing it?
Make sure you know the ins and outs of all the aforementioned application components in addition to knowing where and when to detail your analytical skills.
Once you properly plug all these odds and ends together, you’ll look more like the complete package that recruiters and managers are eager to hire.
This article was written by Robert Carnevale and originally published on The Ladders.